Fresh, locally sourced and made from scratch – that’s what makes this newcomer in Rochelle an exciting new destination for locals and visitors alike.
It’s a sunny afternoon and spring is in the air. In Rochelle, Ill., it’s also on the menu.
Acres Bistro, 407 Lincoln Hwy., offers a unique culinary experience for all who pass through. From its inviting ambiance to its carefully crafted menu, Acres Bistro serves up exceptional food in a warm and friendly atmosphere.
Bright white lights inside the bistro reflect off intimate table settings. Along a brick wall covered with locally crafted art, rich green booths sit opposite black chairs.
For the woman behind the bistro, the design is entirely intentional.
“I picked green colors and bright lights to represent growth, freshness and simplicity,” says owner Teresa Petry, a Rochelle native. “I don’t want people to feel like they went out to eat; I want them to feel like they came home.”
The menu at Acres Bistro is built upon the provisions of several local farms and is constantly changing with the seasons. This spring, it centers around colorful and fresh ingredients on small plates like the lightly battered asparagus with garlic ginger sauce or the house pimento cheese dip with fried wonton chips. Entrees put on a show of their own with selections like the garden greens salad, featuring spinach, watercress, asparagus, peas, cherry tomato, green onion and mint.
Larger plates include the 6-ounce butterflied catfish fillet with cornbread stuffing, herb sauce and spring salad or the 8-ounce sirloin cab strip steak with potato croquettes and roasted asparagus. Regulars gravitate to the Acres Burger, which features Boursin cheese, house-made onion jam and arugula on a brioche bun.
No matter what you choose to sink your teeth into, everything is made from scratch with healthy choices in mind. Any dish can be prepared according to dietary restrictions.
“I am in a small town, so my focus is: how do I make delicious, fresh food both approachable and affordable for everyone to enjoy?” Petry says. “Our kitchen is very educated on cooking vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options, and nothing is frozen or out of a box.”
A former Chicago art student and Lombard, Ill., real estate agent, Petry returned to her hometown in 2012 and started selling vegetables at farmers markets and artistic creations at art fairs. Six years later, she bought a building downtown and opened The Artists’ Garden, a home decor shop and painting studio.
Petry and her brother, Erik, who are constantly dreaming up new ideas, were sitting in the studio one day in 2019 and wondering how to use the rest of the building when they had a breakthrough moment. Literally.
“I took a hammer and went through the wall,” says Petry. “Erik asked me if we were doing this, and that was the start.”
Initially, Petry planned to fill the space with a small sandwich shop. In December 2020, Acres Bistro was born, and by August 2021, she had transformed the dirt-floored basement into ScaleHouse Lounge, a laid-back bar that serves the Acres menu and hosts a wide array of entertainment.
Petry has plenty of ideas for the future. Among other plans, she’s creating a garden space where she can grow fresh produce for Acres Bistro.
She believes the work is far from over.
“I have so much more in my head that I want to do,” she says with a chuckle. “I’m tired, but not done.”
Acres Bistro is open Wednesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
ScaleHouse Lounge is open Wednesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday to 11 p.m.