A New Choice for Upscale Farm-to-Table Dining in Historic Downtown St. Charles
Along the gaslit brick sidewalks of Main Street St. Charles, some of the best local restaurants are tucked cozily into the city’s historic buildings. But it wasn’t until this summer that residents and tourists could step into a place where everything is made from scratch, the ingredients are locally sourced and the menu is dictated by the changing seasons.
Building on the success of The Rack House Kitchen Wine Whiskey®, which has been a Cottleville mainstay since 2014, owners Josh and Bridgette Hamilton have brought their modern spin on American comfort food to St. Charles with Tompkins by The Rack House®.
While The Rack House is known for its upscale casual atmosphere, Tompkins’ home in the former Mother-in-Law House restaurant immediately elevated the elegance factor, leading the Hamiltons and executive chef Philip Day to craft a high-end, farm-to-table menu to match.
“We’re trying to reach those people in St. Charles—and there’s plenty of them—who want a high-level dining experience near home,” says Josh Hamilton. “But they also don’t want to feel like they have to dress up and wear a jacket and tie just to enjoy a great meal. At Tompkins, we suggest business casual, but being on Main, you have people walking up and down the street from all walks of life. If you come in here with jeans, we’re not going to turn you away.”
“That’s the vibe we’re trying to go for,” he adds. “It’s a little more on the upper-end as far as service and food, but you can still feel like you can relax and laugh and have a good time.”
Since opening this summer, Tompkins has already cemented its spot as a Main Street dining staple. Its butter-basted scallops, complemented with hen of the woods mushrooms and local Wenneman’s bacon, has become the star of its seasonal menu and a customer favorite. A variety of locally inspired dishes—such as peppered venison in a grand veneur sauce and smoked duck breast nestled in Marcoot white cheddar and grits—round out its dinner offerings.
For guests with a sweet tooth, the Death by Chocolate—a mingling of fudge cake, French chocolate mousse and chocolate ice cream—adds a decadent end to dinner. The restaurant also serves both a full lunch and brunch menu and offers an extensive boutique wine selection.
However, what truly makes Tompkins stand out is its unwavering dedication to quality. Along with produce and meats selected from local farms, almost all of the accompaniments, from the dressings on its salads to the ricotta in its agnolotti, are handcrafted from scratch. This old-school preparation does push the prices of dishes higher than at most other restaurants on Main, but Hamilton explains the experience is worth the price.
“We’re going for people who are looking for a higher level of quality when dining out. The fact that we make our ketchup and our butter and all of our sauces in house—we think, and our chef certainly thinks, if that’s your palette, you’re going to love this place because just about everybody else is using processed ingredients. You can just taste the difference right away.”
500 S. Main St.
Images courtesy of Brenden Brooks.