Sunday, April 29, 2007

No smoking?

One place I've enjoyed visiting while in Bloomington over the years is Fat Jack's. Roxy's, of Peoria fame, was owned by the same group. They have the Warhol-style paintings in Fat Jack's as well. Roxy's is long gone, but Fat Jack's remains.
We stopped in after Lucca Grill for a drink. On the walk there, it did occur to us that Bloomington has enacted a no smoking rule, as we saw several people outside Lucca smoking. We got to Fat Jack's, and the story was the same.
If you've ever been to Fat Jack's, though, you know they have a lounge of sorts with cushy couches, dark paneling and a large humidor full of cigars. Still there. And so are the nicely painted cigar logos on the wall. Right next to which appears an art-deco styled NO SMOKING sign, under the exit sign.
Upon speaking to the bartender, we found out that yes, there is no smoking at Fat Jack's anymore. You need to go out the door and to the left 15 feet. No, you can't take your drink with you. Which explains the purses and half-finished drinks spread along the bar.
First, no one was 15 feet to the left of the door, they were right outside. Second, Lancaster's is to the right. Do they have the same policy? If so, wouldn't their patrons be 10 feet to the left of Fat Jack's? Would that cause issues?
The bartender said in Normal, you can take your drinks outside. I would think a lot of people would chose Normal over Bloomington, if they want to smoke.
Fat Jack's might consider redecorating the lounge room. Unless they're holding out hope.

Lucca Grill

I've driven past Lucca Grill, 116 East Market St. in Bloomington, many times, and have always wanted to try the place out.
This weekend, I had my chance.
Lucca Grill has been serving up Italian favorites in the same building since 1936. It's a neat place, exposed brick walls and tin ceilings, with old memorabilia covering the walls; the friendly kind of place where you feel comfortable on your first visit. We didn't check out the upstairs, but there was a lot of traffic headed up there.
There's a bar along one side, with several cushy seats to sit in while you enjoy your brew.
They even have a dumbwaiter to move food and dishes from level to level.
We started with an appetizer of fried meat ravioli. It didn't seem fried at all, almost baked, with no greasy flavor. The cornmeal coating gave it a very nice crunch.
We then went for the gusto, a meat combo pizza, covered with sausage, pepperoni, ground beef, ham and bacon. The bacon was my favorite part. This pizza is on a homemade, crispy thin crust.
Now, knowing what I've been missing, the next time, I might not be able to just drive on by.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Kauth & Mayeur

StfRon has a VW Jetta diesel he bought off eBay, and we've enjoyed about 45 miles to the gallon for the past several years. We're also lucky enough to be able to carpool about three days a week.
When the Jetta needs some love, we head to Kauth & Mayeur, the import specialists, at 1013 N. Orange Street, just off Main St. in Peoria.
Kauth & Mayeur, in business for more than 25 years, offers parts and service for all import vehicles, and specializes in servicing European makes.
Taking your car in? You can catch a ride with their shuttle van.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Jubilee College State Park

Jubilee College State Park, off Route 150 between Brimfield and Kickapoo, is a beautiful 3,200 acre site with hiking, biking, horseback riding and camping.
The historic site at Jubilee is beautiful as well, featuring a sandstone chapel from the college, founded in 1839 by Bishop Philander Chase, the first Episcopal bishop of Illinois.
In June each year, the Olde English Faire is held at Jubilee, featuring arts and crafts, jousting on horseback, music and more. This year, the faire will be held June 16 & 17, starting each day at 10 a.m.

Friday, April 13, 2007

International Beer Festival

Here's a plug for the 15th annual International Beer Festival, held at Exposition Gardens in Peoria.
This year, the fest will be April 20-21, and funds will benefit the Peoria Art Guild and Peoria Jaycees.
April 20, you can catch a great local band, the Bogside Zukes, while sampling lots of different kinds of beer.
Catch the details at

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Hearth & Patio

Hearth & Patio, 8304 N. University St., Peoria, is a good source for outfitting your patio as a great outdoor living space.
They have a nice selection of grills and patio sets. The Weber Genesis line of grills is currently made right here in the USA, and Ducane makes grills in the US as well.
Hearth & Patio also can set you up with a built-in outdoor grill.
If you're looking for some warmth indoors, they also have many fireplaces and gas stoves, or, if you're looking to update yours, check out the mantels and fireplace doors they carry.
They've remodeled their showroom, and soon will be offering cooking classes. Find out more at

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Goodfellas Pub & Pizza

Say you're in Pekin and you feel the need to hit a sports bar or have some decent pizza. Give Goodfellas, 1414 N. 8th St., a try.
Here you can play some arcade games or shoot some pool, catch a band and have a good pizza with a nice, thin, crispy crust that has a great touch of sweetness to it. I'd love to get the dough recipe for this pie!
Or try some appetizers or a sandwich. Or just quaff a cold one. It's all good.
They'll even give you some of this rooster hot sauce to use, with Chinese or Japanese writing all over it, which, by the way, is clearly marked "Made in USA" on the back of the bottle. Hmm...

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Elmwood Brewing Company

There's a nice restaurant and brewery tucked away in the quaint town of Elmwood, Elmwood Brewing Company.
I love to see an old, beautiful brick building used like this. This one dates back to 1896.
Elmwood Brewing Company also does a nice job with their own brews and have several of them on tap.
The menu is American-style cuisine, much like you would find at any brewpub you run across.
The restaurant also has room for groups and makes a great mid-way point to meet family or friends who are from the west side of the state.
Many times it seems their web site is down, so give them a call if you have any questions, 309-742-4200.

July, 2007 - The business is now known as the Parkview and is under new ownership.