Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Captain Ron's

We did some boating this summer, and a couple of times ended up grabbing some grub at Captain Ron's, 579 Wesley Road in Creve Coeur.
I had never been to Captain Ron's prior to this. The river access makes it a great place to stop, and deck dining can't be beat on a nice day.
This riverside restaurant has a distinctly nautical decor, befitting the beachy location.
I sampled a burger on one visit, and a spicy pulled pork sandwich on another visit, the latter of which I topped with my side of cole slaw, Memphis style. Both were good, but what also kicked things up a notch was the side dish I chose, the sweet potato fries, served with a whipped cinnamon butter-type substance. Pretty tasty.
Our service was good both times.
The prices are reasonable, and it's easy to wile away part of the afternoon on the deck, enjoying the breeze and river views.

In August 2012, Captain Ron's became Kuchie's on the Water.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Expo Gardens

Sunday we were out running errands, and decided to check out the Giant Flea Market at Expo Gardens.
Admission is $1.50 each. Once you get inside, it's really almost a big garage sale, with some collectors' items and antiques thrown in for good measure.
We did score on this visit, finding a couple of knick-knacks for our home bar we are in the process of setting up.
If you find yourself hungry at the flea market, you can visit the concession stand for things like nachos and hot dogs. Sunday, there was also a grill going right outside the entry doors, which smelled really good each time we walked by.
If the Giant Flea Market is not your speed, you can check out events like the reptile show, the haunted house, and the Heart of Illinois Fair, all also hosted at Expo Gardens, 1601 Northmoor Road in Peoria.

The rest of our weekend was good. Saturday night we dined at Jonah's in East Peoria. It was a red letter date: StfRon ordered fish, marlin, no less. It was prepared with andouille sausage. I tasted it, and it was very flavorful. I thought I tasted a good amount of garlic, which is always good in my book. I splurged on the Thai chai tuna, coconut crusted. It was good as well, although I didn't catch the chai flavor. The tuna came with two sauces, a Thai peanut and one that tasted like soy and ginger. The ginger sauce was a little too sweet for my taste.
For my side I chose island rice, which was good, but quite sweet, too. StfRon had the au gratin potatoes, which were very tasty.
To accompany our meal, we each had the Ravenswood zinfandel, one of our favorites. And to finish, we shared the bananas foster. Delish!

Sunday our Peoria errands took us to Northwoods Mall, so we took advantage of the visit to stop in at the Smo-King Pit. We had a delicious lunch, each ordering the four bone rib dinner, StfRon's with fries and potato salad, mine with green beans and potato salad. Everything was great, as usual. We also got to meet and talk with Mike, the owner, about smokers and smoking meats. Here is a guy who really loves his work, and it shows. Kudos to Mike!

On his way home, StfRon picked up a pork belly he ordered from Lindy's Downtown Market. The belly is cut and basking in bags of cure, and will soon be turned into his first bacon experiment in our new smoker. Mmm...bacon!!

Friday, October 26, 2007

'Burbs dining round up

This week we had the opportunity for a little travel to the suburbs, so we sampled some local fare in the Chicago area.
On the evening we arrived, we headed for the Fondue Stube, 2717 W. Peterson Avenue in Chicago. We had dined there almost 7 years ago when we first started dating.
I remembered the decor being a little different, kind of 1980s living room with silk plants, sponge paint and the addition of red and green lights lining archways in the room. The theme is also classical, including the music, some of the artwork and the names of the menu selections, like Sinfonia Eroica.
The last time we were in, I think we went with the Sinfonia Eroica, a three-part meal including a cheese fondue served with bread cubes and apple chunks; beef fondue with vegetables and dipping sauces; and a fudge fondue for dessert, served with fruit and cake. The thing I remember from that visit was that we were not overly impressed with the fudge fondue, but we had a nice time.
Several years later finds us more the fondue aficionados (we have swiss fondue about once a month at home), so this time we went straight for the cheese: one order of cheddar fondue and one order of swiss, with the promise of a dessert fondue as well. Each pot of cheese fondue was $17, with dessert priced at $9 each. The cheese fondues are also available in half orders.
We were surprised when salads were served to us, as we didn't realize we would get them. The salads were well above most garden salads served to us at home, filled with dark leafy greens, a large carrot slice, a tomato wedge and a cucumber wedge and some red cabbage, accompanied by garlic bread and a dressing caddy at the table with Bleu cheese, creamy Italian and white French dressing.
Next came our pots of cheese fondue, set on their own flame in front of us, and each of us received our own basket of bread cubes and a nicely-arranged set of apple chunks. The fondue was a little mild for our cheesy palates, and also seemed a bit oily. Both had a nice garlic flavor. I was surprised to find that I preferred the cheddar to the swiss, so much so that I finished the whole pot, with a little help from StfRon.
After all of that, and after waiting a few minutes for our server to have a chance to come back, we decided to pass on trying the caramel dessert fondue.
Our server was pleasant and the other gentleman working was johnny on the spot with the water pitcher.
The Fondue Stube is a small, local restaurant, a bit off the beaten path. It's not the best food we've ever had, but we have enjoyed our visit each time we've been in.
Tuesdays and Thursdays they feature scallops, fish and chicken for your fondue enjoyment.
The also seem to believe in advertising and coupons, so be sure to check online if you decide to go. We've saved money with coupons and offers each time.

The next morning, we were in search of a local place to have some breakfast near Elk Grove Village. We settled on the Rose Garden Café, 111 E. Higgins Road in Elk Grove Village. There were several cars in the parking lot, even at almost 9 a.m. on a weekday, so we thought it might be a good choice.
There were some nice plants and rose bushes landscaping the front of the restaurant.
Stepping inside, I was pleased to see that the decor was not outdated, like many local family restaurants can tend to be. This restaurant had some nice wall treatments and a pleasant atmosphere. Which was broken shortly by some moron who had a missed call ringtone bleating out of his phone every two minutes. Everyone in the dining room, including the hostess, who was busily rolling silverware in cloth napkins, kept looking around each time this blast would go off, but no one seemed to be acting responsible for the noise. Finally, after about six instances of this missed call sounder, our hostess seemed to have narrowed the culprit down and walked over to a booth. She said something the man sitting there about his phone, and he said "Oh, yeah," and turned the phone off. Thank goodness for her boldness. Now we could enjoy our dining experience!
I perused the breakfast menu, hoping for something like granola or some similarly healthy dish, but nothing jumped out at me. I was pleased to see they offered crepes, and what a selection they had! There must have been eight types of crepes available, along with specialties like cinnamon roll French toast, pancakes and other goodies.
I decided to have a cafe latte, a bowl of oatmeal and a side of corned beef hash. I love a good plate of corned beef hash, with the edges cooked until they are nice and crispy. Plus, the meaty dish has a little more staying power than a sugary breakfast.
StfRon likes breakfast with eggs over medium and toast to dip them in, plus potatoes and corned beef hash, so he found a special that included all of this for one price.
Our food came out very quickly. The oatmeal was served with little containers of milk, cinnamon, raisins and brown sugar, which was great. We both loved the corned beef hash.
Our waitress was friendly and efficient, and the hostess was also very nice when we cashed out.
I noticed while we were paying that the Rose Garden Cafe also does banquets and catering.

After this filling meal, which tided me over 'til after 2 p.m., I did some shopping, and ended up at Oakbrook Center. I struck out on early Christmas gifts, but I was surprised to see the Christkindlmarket setting up in the mall courtyard. These German Christmas market booths will be at Oakbrook Center from October 26-November 11. November 23 the market will open in Daley Plaza. StfRon and I have begun a tradition of trying to go every year or two, and we always have a good time.

We didn't make it to any local shops, unfortunately, but before we made it all the way home, we did hit another local restaurant for a late lunch.
This place was dubbed the Doggie Diner, 457 N. Weber Road in Romeoville, chosen because StfRon was in da mood for some dawgs. And also because our GPS said it was called Peepers dogs, so we thought it would be funny to take a picture of a Peepers sign for my blog. Alas, there was no sign of Peepers once we got there.
The restaurant had a large selection of specials on the board. I was a little overwhelmed by the choices. What was a chicken wrap? Did they have Chicago dogs? Rather than stand and grill the guy all day, I asked what a pizza puff was. He said it was like a hot pocket, so I went with the two pizza puff special, served with fries. StfRon ordered chili dogs and onion rings.
The chili dogs were OK, but the chili was not as meaty as he would have liked.
The pizza puffs were almost exactly like a toaster strudel filled with pizza sauce and sausage, with some cheese thrown in. They were actually quite tasty. One of them even made it home and survived being in the car with our dog. It should make a nice lunch.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Vault

On my way home from Bloomington recently, I took the scenic route via some country roads. My drive took me through the town of Danvers.
My attention was drawn by a neat old brick bank building with a glossy black door decorated like a vault door. The script over the door proclaimed the place The Vault. I'm not sure of the address, but it's on the main drag, and you probably can't miss it.
StfRon and I went to check out this bar/grill Saturday night. When we arrived, there were a handful people sitting at the bar, a family of four sitting at a table, and a couple of other guys having some food at a table.
The walls were lined with brick paneling, pretty well installed, but I was sad that the walls weren't original exposed brick inside. The tin ceiling was neat, though, as was the dark wood bar back with it's curved glass sides.
The woman behind the bar was running the place by herself. She took our drink order and we took a look at the menu.
The menu was larger than some small town bar and grills, with an array of appetizers, burgers, sandwiches and the local bar stalwart, Butch's pizzas.
StfRon went with a burger, and I decided to try the spicy chicken sandwich, a fried, non-breaded bird. When I asked if the sandwiches came with fries, she said they come with chips, but you can substitute fries, "which I make myself". The burger was on special, served some pre-made potato wedges. I decided to try the fries with my chicken.
Our cook/waitress/bartender was hopping, but keeping up with the small crowd pretty well. She brought our food over before too long. StfRon enjoyed his burger, and my chicken sandwich was very good, with just a bit of spice to it. The fries were were also quite tasty. Similar to Khaki Jack's fries, but not as dark.
We were finishing up our drinks around 7:15, when the door opened and a few people trickled in. 7:16, door opened again and a few more trickled in. 7:17, same thing. 7:18, again. This went on and on for several minutes. It was almost like a bell had gone off in town, and everyone decided it was time to hit The Vault. The poor gal behind the bar had her hands full by this time.
We decided it was time to hit the road after some tasty bar food and drinks, so we paid the tab and made our way through the newly-arrived crowd.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Chicago Hut

The weekends many times send us to Pekin for some shopping. This last time we went during the lunch hour, and when thinking of a local place to grab some grub, I thought of Chicago Hut.
Chicago Hut, introduced to us by some friends who live in Pekin, is located at 2111 Court Street, near County Market.
The menu is huge, featuring things like Chicago dogs, paninis, Greek chicken, gyros, burgers, wraps and even something called a Maxwell Street polish sausage, which I learned from my friend J, is famous because of Chicago's Maxwell Street marketplace.
This time I went with the BBQ half chicken, but it was a hard decision. There were a few other items I really wanted to try, too. I ordered my chicken with rice and it also comes with a Greek salad and some pita bread. Everything was wonderful. The BBQ sauce was very flavorful and citrusy, the cube o'cheese atop my Greek salad was delicious and the pita bread was irresistible. This set me back only $6.75, not including my drink.
StfRon had a chili dog and a gryo.
Since they strategically placed the baklava near the checkout counter, I had to order a piece of that as well. They offered to warm it up for me, which was a nice touch. It was almost as good as Mom's homemade.
The small dining room has a few casual booths and tables, most of which were full while we were in for a late lunch on a Sunday. The restaurant is decorated with some Chicago posters.
Chicago Hut also does a good carryout business, with great prices on Greek chicken dinners, said to feed four, but you will probably end up with leftovers.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Garden Gate Floral

I love to see historic buildings preserved and used for local businesses. I'm especially fond of train depots.
I was surprised to see a photo of a depot in Washington where Khoury's Cuisine now sits, and was sad to realize it was torn down. Actually, I have grand dreams of living in an old depot one day.
One town that has preserved their depot is Mackinaw. Last used as a depot in 1953, this is a beautiful brick Spanish-style building with a terra cotta tiled roof.
Located at 310 N. Main Street, the depot now hosts Garden Gate Floral, among other businesses.
Stopping in the Garden Gate recently, I found the shop filled with Christmas decor galore. Even if you are a petite person, you will probably feel a bit like a bull in a china shop in this cozy shop.
Garden Gate Floral does custom floral arrangements in addition to the decor and gifts carried in the shop. The prices on their Christmas ornaments actually seemed quite reasonable, compared to some shops I've visited.
There is also a tea room on site. I tried dining there one time, but was turned away because we did not have reservations, so if you want to check it out, be sure to call ahead.

Friday, October 19, 2007

River Station

This week we made our second visit to the River Station on the Peoria riverfront since it re-opened this year.
It's so nice to see this beautiful, historic landmark building in use and the restaurant back in business.
We were given a great table, right next to a large bay window looking out onto the river.
There were a few empty tables near us in the dining room, so they were not packed.

Our waitress was cheerful and joked with us, running to the bar several times to check on drink possibilities for the table.

Our guest of honor and his wife ordered some calamari, and were kind enough to share. The calamari was thick, chewy and good, served with a creamy red pepper sauce for dipping.

We started with salads. Since the last time we were in, they have changed the standard practice of bringing the salad bar caddy to the table. The menu stated "tableside salad bar available upon request", so we went with the pre-made salads. They were good, and included a cucumber slice, tomato wedge, shredded carrots, some cheddar cheese and croutons. StfRon had bleu cheese dressing with bleu cheese crumbles, and said it was very good. I went with the balsamic dressing, which was also quite tasty.
I did miss the tableside salad bar, though, and wished we had asked for it.
Some of our friends had the seafood bisque instead of salads, which they were pleased with. I tried the bisque last time, and enjoyed it.

Between soups, salads and breads, there was a noticeable delay before our dinners arrived. It wasn't a shocking delay, but there was a point when most of the conversation had stopped at the table and everyone was wondering where dinner was. The waitress brought by some more bread and said the food would be out in a few minutes.

For dinner I chose the chicken Oscar, a chicken breast topped with crab meat, hollandaise sauce and asparagus spears, served with mashed red skinned potatoes. The plate presentation was very nice and the chicken had a good flavor, but it was surprisingly salty, like it might have been brined. It was also a little brown and dry in a couple of spots, as if it had been under a warmer for a while, and the hollandaise was a little thickened, too, in spots. The chicken might have been plated and waiting for some of the other meals to be prepared. It was a tasty entree, nonetheless. The red skinned mashed potatoes were very good, seasoned nicely and topped with some shoestring potatoes.
StfRon gave the prime rib a second try, since he's a prime rib junkie. He ordered the medium-sized prime rib prepared medium rare. It came out more rare than medium, and he was disappointed that there was no "crust" to the outside that comes from slow roasting. However, the medium prime rib, which all of the men ordered, was quite a large cut. We all wondered how big the large cut would be after looking at these hunks of meat. The steaks, not the guys!
The prime rib was served with a horseradish sauce, and accompanied by the Bleu cheese potatoes he chose. The cubed potatoes were great with the Bleu cheese, says he.
My friend M had the pork tenderloin medallions topped with a balsamic reduction, and she said it was wonderful.
C had the salmon, and also said it was great.
My friend Minney had the asiago chicken, which I had considered getting. I didn't get a chance to holler down the table to see how it was.

Once we all finished eating, some time went by and our waitress came back to see if anyone wanted dessert. One couple went for the pumpkin creme brulee to share, which sounded very good. After taking the dessert order, no one took our plates away. Between 7 dinner plates, 7 bread plates and various glasses of wine, beer and water, our table was getting a bit cramped. Some of us also could have used some refills.
When the dessert arrived, the waitress took several of the plates away, which gave us some breathing room.

We did have a nice time at the River Station and enjoyed the view and the ambiance, and, of course, the company. There were a few kinks that you can find at any restaurant, and it would not keep me from coming back.
In fact, I hope to be back soon because I see that the Wine Room is now open, and I must partake of that!
I also would like to try their brunch, after reading Floyd's report.

July 3, 2008 — The River Station has closed.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Grecian Gardens

Having spent about 2/3 of my life living in Chillicothe, two blocks from Grecian Gardens restaurant no less, I didn't really have a high opinion of the place. And not due to anything I had heard or experienced, I guess it was just because it was always there and Peoria was so much cooler.
Occasionally meeting people from Chicago and the suburbs, if I said I was from Chillicothe, they would say, "Oh, have you been to Grecian Gardens?" Walking away, I would chuckle to myself, Grecian Gardens??
My mom heard Grecian Gardens, 304 Plaza Park Drive, served a good prime rib, so she felt she must pass this information on to StfRon and I. Friday night we ventured in to check it out.
Walking in to the place was surreal. I had been in the dinette-type room a couple of times over the years, for lunch when I worked in Chillicothe during high school, and once for a disastrous blind date. It looked vaguely familiar and comforting.
The door marked "Lounge" and the dining room, however, were a complete surprise to me. It was like I had always come in and entered the dinette section to the left and never knew the rooms to the right existed.
The hallway between the two dining rooms was lined with long, retro sofas.
The decor in the lounge was delightfully old, either late 1960s or early 1970s with an awesome red velvet wallpaper and lots of dark wood. The carpet was decidedly 1960-ish, too. I felt like I somehow remembered this carpet, too, from when I was a wee lass.
We went into the lounge to wait for our table, but ended up just eating there amongst the video games and jukebox. Some guy kept playing the same two songs, one of them by CCR and the other from the Blues Brothers, I think, over and over. Finally StfRon snuck some money in the jukebox to spare us another repetition.
We all ordered the prime rib, me with mashed potatoes and white gravy, StfRon went for brown gravy, and we all had the salad bar. The salad bar was not too exciting, but sufficient.
Our prime rib was well-prepared, the au jus not too salty, and the meat was very tender. The smaller portion runs about $14.99, and they also offer a king prime rib.
I had started with a non-descript Cabernet, but worked up the nerve to try a Greek red wine, which was much better.
There are also some Greek entrees on the menu, and baklava, which I wanted to try, but forgot to order.
Our bartender/server was pleasant. Although, the bar became rather busy while we were there due to a wedding party arriving, and a manager-type lady started helping out behind the bar. She had a bad attitude or was having a bad day or something, but eventually she mellowed a bit.
If you're looking for decent food and a blast from the past, give Grecian Gardens a try.

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Blend

For weeks we've been driving by the banner that said "The Blend Opening Soon" in Washington at 1128 Peoria Street.
This week we saw The Blend was open, and stopped in to check it out.
The decor is upscale coffeehouse, with orange and yellow walls, pendent lights, eclectically upholstered booths and glossy cement floors.
The Blend roasts their own coffee, and on the day we were in, the bags were marked "fresh roasted on 10-4". There are several varieties of coffee to choose from. Next time we need some, we'll go buy some so it's fresh and we'll brew it up at home and see what we think. I also have my eye on some flavored varieties for Christmas presents.
The Blend serves bagels, muffins, scones and something called Wally Biscotti, which look awesome with flavors like Ginger Binge-ers, The Lemon Sisters and Pistachi-o-wie. They also have huge cinnamon rolls. We opted for the bagels, covered with poppy seeds. I had mine with garden veggie cream cheese, which was very savory. StfRon's been raving about the softness of the bagels. Our only complaint: they should see about a faster toaster, maybe one of those chain dealies where you put the bagel it and a few minutes later it pops out on the conveyor belt ready to go.
To quench your thirst, The Blend has espresso drinks, hot chocolate, chai, teas, smoothies and juices. I opted for some Minute Maid orange juice, having already caffeined up at home that morning.
If you decide to hang out at The Blend, they have some magazines and books to read and WiFi access, and so far are open in the evenings as well as mornings.

August, 2008 — We rode our bikes to the Blend before a weekend road trip. We were disappointed to find that they had seemingly changed both their bagels and cream cheese. The bagels were not as soft, and the cream cheese was not as savory. They are still roasting their own coffee on a regular basis, though, which will make for great gifts for coffee lovers.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Penguin Tap

I was introduced to the Penguin Tap several years ago by a friend from work who often lunched at the restaurant located at 4913 N. Prospect Rd. in Peoria Heights. She was a regular, and was always happily greeted by the waitresses.
Actually, prior to going there with her and some other friends from work, I had no idea what the place was called. There was no sign for the longest time, just a large wooden penguin cutout on the side of the gray building.
This building has been there for about 15 years. The previous one was destroyed by fire.
Each time we went in for lunch, there were comforting lunch specials like chicken noodle soup, cheeseburger chowder and grilled cheese. But once I tried the pizza, it was hard to stray to other menu items.
The Penguin's pizza is served on a very thin, crispy crust. You can even order a personal pizza, which is typically my choice, topped with pepperoni and onion.
The dining room is decorated with plenty of penguin memorabilia, in honor of the place's namesake.

Visiting after work, instead of sitting in the dining room, I like to sit in the bar area. While here you can enjoy a large schooner of beer.
The last time we were in, a bonus was the baskets of popcorn our waitress set out for us. Definitely addictive.

The Penguin reminds me of my friend, who died a few years ago. Actually, her birthday would have been this month. A good time for me to visit one of her favorite establishments and have a drink in her honor.

March 24, 2008 — The Penguin Tap has closed.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Bark in the Park

The weather forecast for Sunday, October 14 looks great so far, so I think we are on track to hit Bark in the Park for Peoria's Humane Society at the Peoria Riverfront.
Our dog has $270 worth of professionally polished pearly whites to show off. Who knows, it may have been a rip off, but the vet recommended it, she doesn't have dog breath anymore, and her teeth are very white. She's a pretty girl, yes she is!
The event will start at 11 a.m. this year, and dog lovers and dogs are welcome to join in the fun. Activities include a walk ($25 registration per dog), paw painting, obedience demos, photos, raffles, food vendors, a mutt show and more.
This year, you can raise pledges and receive prices for each fundraising level attained, like collars, leashes, shirts and even iPods. Several people have posted pledge pages on the Humane Society's web site.
Visit http://www.peoriahs.org for more info.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Sterling Family Restaurant

Saturday we stopped at Po-Boys for some dinner and music. I knew they had changed chefs in the past couple of months, so I was wondering how the food would be. They have expanded their menu, and I had the crab cakes with a side of corn bread muffins. It was all excellent, and the muffins were served with butter that had a hint of cinnamon to it. Prior to the crab cakes, we ordered some toasted ravioli with marinara sauce. The sauce was excellent, with a nice touch of sweetness to it. I couldn't put my finger on the flavor, but it was great.

Sunday we decided to check out the Spoon River Drive. On the way, we wanted to get some breakfast.
Our first stop, Gebby's, found several groups of people waiting for tables. Heading further west, we came to Sterling Family Restaurant, 4513 N. Sterling in Peoria.
President Bush dined here in January, and I wasn't sure if this claim to fame would mean we wouldn't be able to get a table, but we were greeted cheerily and escorted to one of the last handful of tables in the non-smoking room.
The restaurant is older, with dark wood paneling, however the tables and booths have been updated in recent years.
Our waitress was very friendly and efficient, quickly bringing us some iced tea and orange juice. The orange juice was pretty good, not the watered down stuff served at some places.
We both went for Louie's Special Breakfast, your choice of two eggs, meat, potato and bread. What sold me was that one of the meat choices is corned beef hash, and one of the potato choices is grits. I also chose an English muffin and scrambled eggs with my meal.
StfRon went with the hash as well, hashed browns and wheat toast, with eggs over medium.
This breakfast bonanza comes in at under $6.
Our food came out pretty quickly, which was good because we were hungry. Everything was good, and the meal proved to be too much for me to handle.
Sterling Family Restaurant has also made the top three in the Peoria Journal Star's Reader's Choice Awards.

Spoon River Drive continues next weekend, October 13 and 14, with crafts and food vendors and plenty of garage sales along the route. Oh, and if you see Uncle Bud's apple booth in London Mills or anywhere else, check out the cider slush. It's DEEEELICIOUS. Especially on a 90 degree day in October.

We finished our afternoon with a trip to Maurie's for some caramel apples. StfRon was swayed by the case of candies, and added some toffee, turtle-type candies and cashews to our order.
I love the caramel on these apples, and it was just as good as I remember. The toffee was terrific, a nice blend of salty and sweet; a new treat to add to our list, and I know someone who just might appreciate some for Christmas.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Chef Leo's Bistro 320

I've tried going to Bistro 320, 240 SW Jefferson in Peoria, off and on for a few months, and they've been closed each time.
This week we did a drive by, and found them to be open, so we decided to check it out for an early dinner.
The bistro is under new ownership since September 1, and is now called Chef Leo's Bistro 320.
Chef Leo was in the dining room when we arrived, and asked to make sure the music was not too loud for us.
Our waitress came to take our drink orders, and we ordered some wine. I tried a Pinot and StfRon had a Cabernet blend. Each were $7.
Our waitress brought a basket of warm hearty rolls served with butter. The basket was accompanied by two petite butter knives tucked inside.
We tried the soup of the day, a beef stew, which was not thick like most stews, but was hearty and full of herbs. This soup was great.
The menu features a lot of great options like crab cakes, baked brie, creative salads, steaks, pasta, lamb, chicken and seafood.
We tried the filet served with a brandied onion compote, and a side of garlic mashed potatoes. The sides are extra, but the meals come served with the vegetable of the day. The steak was tender and well-prepared, the garlic mashed potatoes were savory and the plate presentation was great.
We finished our meal with some dessert, some sort of chocolate overload for StfRon and a bourbon pecan pie for me. Both were drizzled with light fruit sauces, which added a nice touch of color.

The Bistro is open from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. through the week and also has a lunch menu full of salads (including a broiled salmon salad) sandwiches, quiche and wraps.

August, 2008 — The bistro has made way for Andre's restaurant, featuring Cajun fare.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Fired Up

One business I have inadvertently overlooked blogging about for a while now is Fired Up, 4532 N. Prospect Rd. in Peoria Heights.
My first visit to Fired Up was with "the girls" in June. I took a walk around the studio looking at the selection of bisque items available for hand painting. There are coffee mugs, bread pans, bowls and even pet food and water dishes. I ended up selecting a small square dish that I figured I could use to keep my rings in after I take them off for the day.
Fired Up charges a flat studio fee, and you also pay for the cost of your chosen bisque piece(s). The pieces start at under $8 and go up from there.
After selecting my paint colors, I sat down to enjoy wine, hummus, veggies, pita chips, tortilla chips and wedding ring cookies brought by my friends.
It was fun to see everyone else's creations at the table. H chose an egg plate and painted it with accents of purple and pink, then spattered with black paint over all. Minney made a very cool switch plate cover.
A week later, our pieces were finished being fired by the studio and ready to be picked up.
My little ring tray now has a place of honor in the bathroom at home, and gets used every day.

Last month, we convinced some of our guys to go along for another trip to Fired Up. The promise of being able to bring booze might have had something to do with it.
The outing seemed to bring out the creativity in everyone. I was very impressed with my friend J's plate design. StfRon used chalkboard paint for his creation, and my friend M used a chili pepper stamp on one of her tiles.
There were comments about how Zen the whole thing seems, and also reminiscing about kindergarten and preschool art projects.
This time I chose a rectangle tray with handles at each end, and painted it a salsa red and vibrant yellow. I plan to use it to carry glasses of wine or snacks about.
Fired Up is definitely something different to do. It would make a great Mother's Day outing, too. Just be sure to make reservations during any holiday seasons, and it's worth checking their web site for any coupons or specials. And for those of you on the east side of the river, there is now a Bloomington location.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Global Village

When I first heard about Global Village opening at 1308 E. Seiberling in Peoria Heights, I was interested to check it out.
Global Village carries fair trade merchandise from around the world, including toys, clothing, food, jewelry and gifts. The shop is staffed by volunteers.
I've stopped by twice now, only to find them closed both times. I guess it's just a matter of bad timing. They are closed on Mondays, and Saturdays are open from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. This last time I stopped by around 9:30 Saturday after picking up some locally-grown yams at the last Peoria Riverfront Market of the year. Served up with our Creekstone Farms steak from Lindy's Downtown Market Saturday night, those were terribly tasty tubers.
I'll stop by Global Village again soon now that I know the hours. I'll bet I could find a gift for my mom that I could squirrel away for Christmas.