Chicago >Food & Dining > Geja's Cafe
340 W Armitage Ave, Chicago, IL | Directions 6061441.918327 -87.637886
Mon-Thurs 5-10pm; Fri 5-11:30pm; Sat 5pm-midnight; Sun 4:30-9:30pm
Neighborhoods: North Side, Lincoln Park
There's a reason Geja's is considered one of Chicago's most romantic restaurants: it's underground, super dark, brimming over with wine and you have to dip your succulent food in chocolate and cheese.
overall...meh – Awesome, spectacular service....incredibly good cheese fondu starter.....incredibly good chocolate fondu dessert.......incredibly overpriced, small-portioned, stinky soybean oil main entree. We went to Second City after leaving Geja's and everyone within 10 feet of where we were sitting could smell the saturated oil in our clothes. The place settings while you cook the meat get loaded with oil as well, leaving you feeling like you need to take a shower after eating there.
Would I go again? Yes, but only for the appetizer and dessert. For $100 I would expect much more food. When the entree arrived I thought to myself "where's the rest??" 2 cubes of beef...2 small pieces of lobster...3 scallops....2 shrimp....3 cubes of chicken.....all yours for $50. And you get to smell like a grease trap when you're finished! No thank you.
Staff was incredibly friendly and helpful however. Not their fault for the "sorta good" review.
Great experience! – My boyfriend and I have never had fondue and decided to give it a try. We went there with a Living Social coupon and they still treated us like normal guests. The food was absolutely amazing! We both loved the cheese and chocolate fondues, and the salad was very yummy too! We both didn't like the main course as much (frying the meats) because of all the grease (you end up smelling like it), but the dipping sauces were very yummy! It's pretty expensive even with the $60 coupon we used (our total was almost $100), but we'd love to go back. We'd probably only get the cheese and chocolate and skip the meat portion. You would think that you'd get more meat because that really racks up the cost of dinner, but it's filling because you have to wait while the food is cooking. We were both stuffed at the end. Thanks Geja's!!
Great fondue – Last Friday Erica and I decided to have a nice, romantic fondue dinner at Geja's. I'm surprised there are not more fondue places in Chicago. The melting pot is fine but has the obvious feeling of a chain restaurant and none of the charm of a neighborhood gem like Geja's.
Writing a food review of fondue is tricky similar to a "build-your-own stir fry." Many of the flavors are self directed along with your success or failure. However, what separates Geja's, and makes it a fun and worthwhile meal, is the quality of experience. The setting and decor is great, the wine list superb, and the main course options extensive. Geja's does have an a la carte option, but most people choose the full premier dinner - salad, cheese fondue, main course and chocolate fondue. For our meal we both selected the beef tenderloin and scallops, even though each person can pick different "proteins."
Everything was great and we left unable to finish our chocolate (a rarity, but Erica was too stuffed to help me). The cheese course was amazing and it took self-restraint not to kill our appetite on bread dipped in melted cheese. Our meat and scallops were also fantastic, especially when I did not overcook my steak. The main course is served with a variety of vegetables, including broccoli, peppers, potatoes, onions and mushrooms. The vegetables were especially important while cooking the scallops so the scallops did not fall off the skewer. Once cooked you have a choice of eight dipping sauces to flavor your treats. I enjoyed the BBQ sauce (sweet baby ray's) and teriaki sauce for my vegetables and tenderloin, respectively. The butter sauce and dill sauce worked well with the scallops. Everyone has their favorite, but they are all very good. Lastly, the chocolate course is the most well known fondue experience. You get a basket of marshmallows, pound cake, bananas, strawberries, etc to dip into a warm pot of melted chocolate. There is no good explanation why dipping treats and fruit into warm chocolate is so much fun. Marshmallows and bananas were my favorite chocolate transporters.
Geja's remains my go-to fondue spot in Chicago and highly recommended for first-timers or experienced masters of hot oil skewer cooking. It is a romantic dinner experience at a good value if you arrive hungry (most Premier Dinners are $40-$50 per person). Weekend nights usually feature live guitar music as well. Next time I might stick with the favorites and try the cheese-chocolate option.
(Last note: be prepared to dry clean your clothes afterward- similar to Japanese teppan style, the cooking oils and flavors permeate everything :)
my blog: jjrappeats.blogspot
Horribly Overpriced Food – Horribly overpriced food with excellent service. For two people with one cheap drink each, the bill was $129.95. For that money, you get (with the seafood platter, not the most expensive item on the menu, and no a la carte):
1. Three pieces of lettuce with two slices of cucumber as a salad (one salad per person)
2. Cheese fondue with 4 small slices of apple, two small slices of pear, 6 grapes, and 4 cubes of bread.
3. Fondue dinner with 6 scallops total, 6 shrimp, two small "wads" of supposedly shaved lobster, 5 mushrooms, some sliced onion, sliced green pepper, two potato cubes, and 8 dipping sauces.
4. Chocolate fondue with 6 triangles of pineapple, 6 cubes of apple, 4 cubes of pound cake, and 6 quarter-sized pieces of banana.
That's all you get for $129.95. Not even half an apple for two people. Very small portions with a very limited selection.
The atmosphere was loud, cramped, but still romantic. The service is the best in Chicago. Very friendly people that are genuinely interested in making you happy.
The food is, by far, the worst for your money in Chicago. Six shrimp, six scallops, some shaved lobster the size of an iphone, a quarter of an apple, and a couple of cubes of bread for two people at $129.95. Just horrible and insulting for a fondue place where you cook your own food on a stick.
The service is, by far, the best in Chicago. It's quite a dichotomy of a restaurant, but stay away since you now know that the price for the food will ruin your night (if you're the one paying, that is).
The Best Fondue and very romantic! – This is the only way I'd do fondue, and I've gone to Gejas a number of times and I definitely would highly recommend getting a booth because it's definitely much better than the tables. Every time that I've gone I've had good service and the food has been good as well. Just be careful if it's your first experience to watch out for the oil because when it does get really hot it does kind of crackle and pop. The first time my brother went there he was mad and couldn't stand it because he couldn't keep track of how long his food was cooking and kept on losing the food off of the little forks. The forks are color coordinated, and it can be tough to keep the food on them, especially with lobster and the patatoes. It was rather dimly lit, but hands down the most romantic place I've ever been to. I agree that if you have noisy people behind/in front of you you can hear their conversations, so going later can help with that. This is the only place where I'll eat lobster and actually the first place I tried it, and I just love it! (and I'm generally not a seafood fan, plus, the shrimp is good too). Everything is top quality food, and I'll be coming back here again and again because it's a fun, and unique experience every time.
Perfect for couples – I went here with my boyfriend on a monday night to celebrate our one-year anniversary, and it was the best choice we could have made. First off, the valet was the great at only $9. We chose to wait for a booth (which I HIGHLY recommend doing). It definitely isn't a bad wait if you aren't pressed for time. They have a decent outdoor patio with little tables and candles, and the hostess calls you in when the booth is ready. Despite what some people may have said, I completely adored the restaurant's decor and atmosphere. It wasn't too dim, as the windows are a nice size for the "cellar vibe", and there are candles, and warmly lit lamps in the booths. There are old wine bottles covering all of the walls, and wine-style oil paintings. It isn't one big room like some restaurants, but has a few walls dividing the doorway, seating area, and bar. Not all the tables in the center were extremely close, and I could tell that they had done their best spacing people out, but on a busy night it would be best to wait for a side table or a booth if you don't want to feel like you're a joint party with another table.
The food was simply delicious. They are quite generous portions, and the fruit and vegetables were very fresh. The waiters were very professional and elegantly dressed. The guitarist was also great. He sits on a raised chair in the corner of the dining area. It took just over two hours for us to finish our premier dinners: salad, cheese fondue, meat/vegetables, chocolate fondue, and coffee. Since we only chose to have chicken and meat, as opposed to seafood as well, the whole dinner was only $36/person. For some reason they charged us for our cappuccinos, so I'm assuming that just plain coffee is included in the premier dinner price. So overall our bill was $88, and with a tip we paid just over $100. Definitely worth the money. You also get a $25 off certificate with your bill, always a nice way to recieve a check.
My favorite restaurant when I visit chicago! – I discovered this place 4-5 years ago when visiting chicago (I am from MI), and no fondue experience has ever been the same. Everytime I return to chicago it is a must that I dine here! If you have ever been to a chain like the melting/pot - it doesn't even compare to the experience here. The atmosphere is small, cozy, romantic. I DO recommend that when calling in for a reservation that you specifically ask for a booth. If you get a table, you will find that you may be sitting on the laps almost of the table next to you. Also, I would suggest coming a little later - say 8:30-9ish as things will calm down a little more.
I will say I had one minor bad experience here the last time I visited this x-mas of 07. I took my fiance here for the first time (his first time in chicago as well). I won't make this long, but watch out for the exploding potatoes! My fiance got minor burns on his hand from the hot oil, and I got oil all over my new shirt I had just bought. While the staff made sure to frequent our table more, the manager only comped a couple glasses of wine, he didn't offer anything for my ruined shirt, and we still had to pay for the dinners in full. Considering how great of business this place gets (and how much I frequent it for not even being a resident of the city) I would think that the least they could have done was comped our meal for this time. If you are someone that can't laugh an experience off like this I would suggest not going as apparently this does happen from time to time.
However, b/c of how much I love this place, the experience, and the food I will visit again the next time I am in chicago. Make sure to give yourself plenty of time (2-3 hours), and come with an empty stomach!!!!
So Cozy and Romantic... – As first timers at the Geja's Cafe I didn't know what to expect. I found the cafe in the Fodor's guide, with the words Romantic catching my eye. I called on a Thursday night making reservations for that Sunday for 7:00pm for two people. They were very nice on the phone. I let them know it was our first time at the cafe and it was my boyfriends birthday, so could we be put down for a booth(Fodor's recommendation).The receptionist said it was a first come first serve basis with the booths, but she would make a note by my name. We arrived at 7:00pm, didn't have to valet park ($9)since we found parking not even a half a block away. We only waited a few minutes after checking our coats and we were seated in our requested booth. Our waiter was nice and explained the menu to us and how the courses worked. He was even kind enough to bring two hot pots for us to cook the main courses in, because I don't eat meat/fish and didn't want my veggies tasting like fish. The first course cheese foundue was so rich and creamy, my boyfriend and I will be back for just that! The main dishes were fun to cook, and they even give you 8 different souces to dip you meat or veggies in. By the time we reached the end and the melted chocolate was brought out, we didn't think we would be able to eat it, but we forced ourselves to nibble. A great choice for a date or a group of people. We'll be back!
A word of advice... don't were heavy clothes(even in winter) and sweaters, unless you have a shirt underneath, it can get a bit warm with all of the fire on the table! You may also get a little grease on your clothes-it can jump from the pots, so wear something you can through in the wash.
One of my favorite restaurants in Chicago! – Yeah, so you smell like oil when you leave. And yeah, sometimes the smell of sterno is bad. But, I have been here for dinner at least 10 times and I loved each experience. I tell the host at the beginning that I would rather wait for a booth than sit at a table in the center of the room... or when you make the reservation (I believe weekdays only) ask specifically for a booth. The wine selection is fantastic and I have loved everything I have tried there. The meat portions are small but if you ask for more veggies, they are more than happy to oblige. The service is usually very good.
I go to restaurants so someone else will cook my food!! – I made a reservation at Geja's based on several recommendations from people who had previously lived in Chicago. While I enjoyed the experience, I wasn't as thrilled with the food as I thought I would be. First of all, while the ambience is interesting, it can be a bit claustrophobic with the very dim lighting and low ceilings (it's in a basement). I would recommend requesting to be seated at a booth-- some of the 2 person tables are tiny and very close to the adjacent tables. The menu is a bit confusing, but the waitress did a great job explaining how the whole thing worked. I loved the cheese fondue, but I was dissapointed with the whole cook-your-own-food-in-oil deal. Besides being way too much work, the food didn't even turn out that great once I cooked it. I found the lobster to be a bit chewy, and the sauces offered on the platter were less-than-interesting. I also found that I quickly tired of the oily flavor that accompanied everything I cooked, and as a result I didn't finish all the items on my platter, not because I was no longer hungry, but because I couldn't take that oil taste any more! The chocolate fondue was very good, and I liked how they lit the liquour on fire when it arrived at the table so that you could roast marshmallows until it burned off. In conclusion, Geja's was an interesting dining experience-- it was cool to be actively involved in cooking your meal at the table, but be warned that the results might not be as good as hoped. Or maybe I'm just not a fondue person...
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