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Clayton’s Restaurant: A not-to-be-missed dining destination

Executive Chef Jim Thomas [left] inspired Kevin Kaegel [right] to open Clayton’s in 2016.

Kevin Kaegel went to extreme measures in search of the perfect filet mignon. He tracked down the former executive chef of Bocaccio’s and Premier Catering, and convinced him to open another restaurant.

“His food was that good,” said Kaegel, who opened Clayton’s restaurant with executive chef and business partner Jim Thomas in 2016.

Kaegel first tasted Thomas’ cuisine when dining at Bocaccio’s in St. Charles in the 1980s. Considered the first fine dining establishment in St. Charles, Bocaccio’s had an all-male serving staff donned in tuxedos. Chandeliers hung from the ceiling while a filet mignon dinner cost about $50 per plate.

“It was very upscale. The food was phenomenal, the service was impeccable,” said Kaegel.

The restaurant closed in 1999, and Kaegel said he simply had not found another dining establishment that could replicate Bocaccio’s mouth-watering, cut-with-a-spoon filet mignon  – until he experienced Premier Catering.

“We were so impressed that my brother and I ate dinner there every Friday night from 2003 until 2010,” Kaegel said.

As a frequent customer, Kaegel became friends with the owners and learned that Thomas had created the filet mignon masterpiece Kaegel experienced at Bocaccio’s. In 2010, Premier Catering closed its doors.

“I told him, ‘I really miss your food. There’s no place in St. Charles that puts out the quality of product that you do. What’s it going to take to open your own restaurant?’” Kaegel said.

The pair was able to negotiate a plan in 2015, and Clayton’s opened in O’Fallon in May 2016. The 4,000-square-foot restaurant offers an extensive menu that includes juicy steaks, fresh seafood, chicken and pasta. All of the select steaks are handcut in-house. The salad dressings and special sauces all are homemade and made-from-scratch.

While the Filet Mignon remains the most popular item on the menu, the seafood selection is exceptional. From the Grilled Salmon served with Citrus Butter to the Sautéed Crab Cakes topped with a Chardonnay Dijon mustard sauce to the Shrimp Sophia, Clayton’s offers a multitude of seafood choices.

The restaurant also features four chicken dishes including Roasted Chicken Parmesan, which comes with two chicken breasts covered with a rich, creamy, white Chardonnay cream sauce.

“The sauce is outstanding and it’s what makes the dinner so good,” Kaegel said.

In the pasta category, Fettuccine Genovese is made with fresh basil and cream and topped with grilled tenderloin tips and house-made marinara sauce.

“You get the opportunity to eat a filet mignon with fettuccine alfredo. It’s really, really good,” Kaegel said.

In the bar area, diners can enjoy the full menu, which also includes more typical bar food. Clayton’s also runs a 12 oz. Prime Rib Special every Wednesday that includes a salad and a side.

Kaegel considers Clayton’s a destination restaurant where people can relax and just enjoy a great meal, dessert and drinks. While it may take a little longer to be served dinner, it’s worth the wait.

“It takes us longer to prepare our food because everything’s prepared from scratch, and not until you order it,” said Kaegel. “People that are foodies, they appreciate the quality in what we put out on our plates.”

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