Monday, January 28, 2008

Recent round up

With recovering from the holidays, and other slightly unexpected turns, we haven't been doing a whole lot of shopping and dining out.

Last week we did enjoy a birthday dinner with friends at Paparazzi's in Peoria Heights. I still say they have the best chocolate mousse EVER! I went with the coconut gelato as my dessert, but then kicked myself and ate a few spoonfuls of StfRon's mousse.

Early in the week, we enjoyed lunch at Yen Ching in Peoria. Normally, I do not stray from the Mongolian beef, but, in trying to be a little more health conscious, I tried the chicken lo mein lunch special, with an egg roll. Wow!! I had no idea that Yen Ching had such great lo mein. The egg roll was good as well, and almost seemed less greasy than StfRon's Mongolian beef egg roll companion. I wonder if they cooked it differently due to what I ordered. Either way, it was all very good.

We also had a nice, but chilly lunch at Euro Jacks in Peoria. Lots of patrons, including us, wanted to sit at the booths along the windows and look out onto Main Street, but it was quite a chilly perch. The waitress suggested that we move into the back room with the platform and mural, so several tables of people relocated. It was much warmer in there.
We both had the chef salad with britney dressing. If you want a salad with a lot of meat and cheese, and not a whole lot of lettuce, this is the salad for you! And the dressing is great.
We've also enjoyed a the return of a nice tradition reminiscent of the good old days at the Hofbrau. Regular once a week meet ups with friends and a great bartender is almost like old times. Except we're all a bit older now.

We have also been out of town for a bit recently. One of the things we've enjoyed over the years is looking at great old business signs, many of them neon.
Traveling on Route 32 in Wisconsin, the Lake Michigan Circle Tour, you can hardly travel 10 miles without seeing an interesting looking supper club, family restaurant or cocktail lounge, usually proclaimed by some retro neon sign.
We stopped to check out the Village Supper Club, in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin.
It was odd at first to be in a place that allowed smoking, since Illinois recently went smoke free.
The dining room was small and cozy, with a bar along one wall. The bar was topped with shelves housing bottle after bottle of an interesting collection of vodkas. There was Virgin Vodka, vodka bottles shaped like dolls, even a vodka bottle with a skull on it. Someone has quite an extensive collection. Along the restaurant wall, there is quite an array of beer cans as well.
After this most recent stint driving on 32 from Milwaukee to Chicago, we were discussing how much fun it might be to do a supper club/cocktail lounge crawl in the area, after booking a room at one of the motor lodges nearby.

Further along on our trip, we finally found ourselves in the vicinity of Dell Rhea's Chicken Basket, rather than just zipping by the exit sign. The Chicken Basket was built in 1946 along Route 66, in Willowbrook, to be exact. We thought we would have a peek at the lounge, but we were thwarted by a handwritten sign on the door stating they were closed for a private party.
We'll have to check it out next time we're in the area.

Last night, we finally mentioned a story we both noticed in the paper at separate times, but hadn't discussed as of yet, the closing of Andris Waunee Farms in Kewanee, Illinois.
Having had grandparents in the Kewanee area, I spent many years visiting on day trips, and stared out at the building from my back seat perch. I never knew anything about it. The only thing I recalled was a friend of mine from high school telling me her aunt worked there.
Apparently, we have missed out all these years, and now for we've missed out for good.
Andris had a Tiki lounge, of which we knew nothing. Dubbed the Aku Tiki room, there are forums and books documenting the lounge, and it certainly sounds like a sight to be seen.
The man who took over the restaurant in 1953 has recently died, and the restaurant is closed. The contents will be auctioned off in June, and the building will be torn down.
The site is functional now, but I would imagine it will go offline.
I can't help but feel like we missed out on a nearby gem here.


StfRon said...

If only we'd known such kitsch was SO CLOSE. We could have been enjoyinh polynesian cocktails :(

Jeep2000 said...

Hmm...Yen Ching has polynesian cocktails on their menu...

Anonymous said...

After visiting the like to the place, I can tell you that places like this are a rare find and are slowly dying out, never to return again. For some reason, the masses prefer the chain restaurants where everything looks the same (e.g. junk all over the walls ala Applebee's). Might have to attend the auction as some of that stuff might look good in my own bar.

Fraochán said...

I think we are a society of convenience....most of us don't want to sit and "talk" *gasp* with family or friends for a few hours over dinner. I mean, just going out to eat with people...if the service is a little slow...the complaints start.

I remember going to supper clubs as a kid...the parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts/uncles, etc. We all went. And we would go, catch up on things, and slowly wait for our food. If we were there for two hours - it really wasn't a big deal. We were always going to these places in/around the Princeton and LaSalle-Peru areas - and it was really a treat. Good food, good company....and for me...kiddy cocktails. *smiles*

Today - we want everything fast. Our society has changed, our families have changed (nuclear family dying out...) and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that businesses have changed or that they would change.

Jeep2000 said...

Yes, I also thought it would be neat to attend the auction. Some good finds, but due to the loss of what sounds like a very unique place.
I need to start tracking down more of these restaurants!

I have enjoyed some dinners out with groups that have taken close to two hours. Sometimes it does just start to seem like it's taking too long. Probably due to all the multitasking and busy lives, and yes, I'm sure our expectations have changed as far as how long dinner out should take.
Since my grandma's death, we have managed to have a few family outings at restaurants with her siblings, and also with the cousins. It's something we really never did often before, and I'm sure she would have enjoyed it.
We should start hitting some of those supper clubs still in existence!

StfRon said...

The Village joint was so cool- I love these locally owned retro gems. They seem to be found a lot in Wisconsin, especially on the lake.