seared scallops atop a bed of corn at bakers & hale photo by michelle volansky

First Look: Bakers & Hale in Godfrey, Illinois

Longtime friends and colleagues Rex Hale and Kelsi Baker Walden officially opened the doors to their seed-to-table restaurant Bakers & Hale at 7120 Montclaire Ave., in Godfrey, Illinois, on Monday, Aug. 6.

As Sauce reported in late April, Hale left his longtime position at executive chef at Boundary to strike out on his own in the small Illinois river community of Godfrey.

Appellations like “locavore” and “farm to table” aren’t just marketing terms at Bakers & Hale. Most of the ingredients are grown onsite or sourced from purveyors within a 50-mile radius, and Hale said he plans to expand the eatery’s garden in the near future.

The resulting dishes include starters like heirloom tomatoes with Marcoot Jersey Creamery mozzarella, herbs and a white wine vinaigrette, and larger plates like smoked chicken legs with peach chile glaze, summer squash and corn.

The bar program includes farm-fresh cocktails like the Bakers & Hale signature bloody mary made with fresh tomatoes from the garden, and the Calhoun Smash with fresh Calhoun County peaches, along with local spirits, beers and an array of organic and biodynamic wines.

The building most recently housed a restaurant called the Rotten Apple, but there’s little left to remind diners of that previous incarnation. The interior has been divided by wall featuring a mural by local artists Crystal and Eric Stephens. On one side, a dining room seats 60, and the bar area on the other side seats 75. The outdoor bar area, dubbed The Watering Can, seats an additional 120.

The walls are adorned with family pictures from both Baker Walden and Hale, along with artwork from Baker Walden’s children on the walls. Even the cabinetry work is courtesy of her husband. The tables in the main dining room were “customized” with artwork from students at the local Montessori school.

Bakers & Hale is open for dinner from 3 to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and Hale said he hopes to kick off lunch service in the near future. 

Matt Sorrell is staff writer at Sauce Magazine.