Friday, August 29, 2008

Round up

Over the past seven days, we checked out Andre's Restaurant in Peoria. It was the same week they were reviewed by the Journal Star, so I'm wondering if things were a little off because of the response. I'll try it again and hope to have a full rave review. The entertainment while we were there, the Soggy Bottom Blues band, was an unexpected treat, though.
We stopped by the Erin Feis on the riverfront. Humid, humid, humid, but great to hear the Irish music.
I also enjoyed lunch at the Adams Street Café and City News in Peoria this week.

I noticed on Peoria Chronicle today that the date of Vonachen's Old Place closing has been set.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

EastPort Marina Cantina Bar and Grill

It may be one of the longest business names I've heard in a while, but the EastPort Marina Cantina Bar and Grill decks boast one of the best views in town.
I noticed that the bar and grill, located at 701 Mariners Way in East Peoria, was open again when I saw their ad in the Washington Times Reporter a couple of months ago.
We are lucky enough to go boating quite often with some friends, and another lunch option on the river is always a good thing.
We docked at the marina a few weeks ago for lunch on a weekend, and took a seat on the lower deck. The view of the Peoria skyline and the light breeze made the spot quite relaxing.
After checking out the menu inside, I decided to try a Cuban sandwich. StfRon had a cheeseburger, and our friends split the same two sandwiches, plus an order of chips and salsa.
The food was nothing fancy, but hit just the right spot.

One night after an event in East Peoria last week, we met up at EastPort Marina Cantina Bar and Grill again for drinks, and ended up ordering a Butch's white garlic pizza to serve as our dinner. The bar was featuring a special on Bud Light bottles, $2 each.
Once again, the view was tops and with our appetite nicely sated by the pizza, we were set for the night.

The bar and grill is open from 2 p.m.-1 a.m. Monday-Wednesday, 2 p.m.-2 a.m. Thursday and Friday, 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Saturday and noon-1 a.m. Sunday with live music featured on weekends.
You can also carry out ice and cases of beer for boating, should you run low.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Round up

I suppose it's high time I catch up on what's been going on.

Last week we hit the grand opening of Bernardi's North in Dunlap for my mom's birthday. They handled our pretty large group with typical Bernardi's style and grace, and we enjoyed a nice evening there.

The next day we dined at Sushigawa in Peoria for my friend's birthday. My bowl of tempura noodle soup was good, however StfRon's teriyaki beef won my rave reviews. They were out of green tea ice cream, but had a substitute ice cream in green tea flavor that I really enjoyed. It had a gummy coating on the outside and was cut into wedges, which made it great to just pick up with your fingers and pop the pieces into your mouth. The coating reminded me of the big tapioca balls that were in the tea that they used to have at the Monkey King at the Shoppes at Grand Prairie.
Oh, and when they delivered the bill for the meal, they brought some melon hard candies that were most excellent. I must check around at the ethnic markets here and see if I can find some.

Our next stop was the state fair in Springfield, where I sampled polenta with feta from the Romania booth at Ethnic Village. We shared a Pronto Pup dog and elephant ear, and on our way out were going to hit the "Deep Fried What?" booth for some deep fried Oreos, but there was quite a line, so we passed.
Didn't see any sign of chocolate covered bacon, or I'm sure we would have been up for that.

Friday night we met some friends and rode bikes to dinner at Basta O'Neill's in Washington. I tried the special o' the night, grouper Oscar, which was wonderful, and the plate presentation was quite nice, too.

This week brought the attack of the car problems. Tuesday, between the time that I drove to work and lunch, both of my turn signals stopped working. I was going to have StfRon meet me at the dealership that evening to drop it off until we met, and he said his transmission was acting up. He had made an appointment to drop his off at Kauth & Mauyer in Peoria, and since that problem trumped mine, we've been sharing the Jeep for a few days (turns out it wasn't a transmission leak, so we're on to the stage where they find out what the problem is and how much the repair will cost). I just figured out that we're averaging about $10 a day in gas using the Jeep, which would put a serious cramp in the ole budget if we did this permanently.
This morning the Jeep had a rough start, as it has from time-to-time, but evened out and got us out to bring home the bacon, and the turn signals are currently working, so I don't feel like such a jackass switching lanes and turning.

I had lunch with a friend at One World in Peoria and checked out the new menu. I was glad to see that my faves are still on there, and didn't branch out and try anything new. The place was hopping.

On the new biz front, I see that Emack & Bolio's is moving into Peoria Heights, near Basta Mangiare on Prospect. Not really local, but tasty nonetheless. I'll bet they do well there.
On the local front, Sullivan's, just down the street from the aforementioned businesses, should be opening in a week or two, and we're looking forward to that, and Davis Brothers Pizza is taking over the location vacated by Kkolors in Heritage Square, again in Peoria Heights.
And, in a depressing bit of news regarding the end of summer, Lou's Drive-In in Peoria is closing for the season August 30, so head on out for a burger and a root beer a.s.a.p.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Round up

One day this week I headed to the Metro Centre in Peoria for lunch and errands.
My first stop was Kay's Hallmark. After TCB there, I decided to walk down to Jalepeno's because I had noticed a board touting their $3.99 lunch special on the sidewalk when I drove by.
I walked in and was seated right away, and noticed the decor seems to be updated from that last time I'd been in, and I liked what I saw.
The $3.99 lunch specials advertised were the numbered lunch combos, from #1-#11. I decided to go with #8, a beef burrito and a tamale with refried beans.
Someone dropped of my prerequisite chips and salsa, and I enjoyed a few while looking out the window as I waited about five minutes for my meal.
In the second dining room, where I was seated, I noticed that the overhead lights were off, and I thought, why the heck not? Save some energy while enjoying the sun that filters in through the large windows along the front.
My combo arrived quickly, the burrito topped with a red sauce and the tamale was cornmeal through and through topped with green sauce and shredded pork. Very tasty.
When the bill arrived, the meal was indeed $3.99, with $1.50 added for my iced tea. After a decent tip and tax, I made it out just over $8, and with the speedy service still had time to pop into Abe's on my way back to the car to pick up some gum.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Original Gulley's BBQ

Last week we made a stop StfRon had been talking about doing for several days: Original Gulley's BBQ. He wanted to swing by the restaurant at 123 S. MacArthur Highway in Peoria and pick up some carryout for dinner.
The dining area is quite small, with seating for about six people, and a counter where we stepped up to check out the menu.
The menu features chicken and fish, pulled pork and beef sandwiches, a rack of ribs and rib dinners. We ordered two of the latter, $12 each, both with baked beans and cole slaw as our sides.
After about 10 minutes, we had our bag of food and were on our way home. StfRon went around the side of the building to take a gander at the smoker, and ran into the original Gulley himself, who built the smoker at that location over 50 years ago.
Pulling the Styrofoam boxes out of the bag, I swear each one weighed several pounds. Opening my dinner, I could see why. The ribs are very meaty, and we were served several of the hearty rib bones. A piece of waxed paper covered the dinner and my slices of soft white bread were placed on top of that.
Taking a bite, the pork had a good smoky flavor and was crusted with some BBQ sauce. The meat was not falling off the bone, but was good nonetheless. There was a side of BBQ sauce as well, and to my untrained BBQ palate, it tasted like a Kansas City style sauce.
The beans were fine as a side, and the creamy slaw was tasty.
At $12, this meal was quite a take out feast. I'll be enjoying the leftovers this week.

January, 2009 — Gulley's has closed

Saturday, August 09, 2008


We've heard talk of it for several months now, and now it's officially noted that the Kaiserhof Restaurant of Bradford fame will be opening a location at the Shoppes at Grand Prairie.
The opening is slated for October and the restaurant will be across from Border's back entrance.
We'll certainly be checking it out and enjoying some great German cuisine and wish Gary and the crew the best in their Peoria location.

We'll also be checking out the opening of Bernardi's North at Lake of the Woods Plaza in Dunlap in honor of my mom's birthday next week, and look forward to their new location. I spent many a Thursday night in the Woodcutter back in the 90s, so it will be interesting to step inside after all these years, but even better to see some familiar Washington faces.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Pottstown Meat & Deli

Some more moderate temperatures moved into the area this week, which made me contemplate a picnic lunch of sorts.
StfRon stopped by Pottstown Meat & Deli at the Metro Centre in Peoria (4700 N. University) to pick up some sandwiches, and called me with some options.
He rattled off the salad sandwich (ham, chicken or tuna salad on honey wheat, white or croissant); ham and cheese; corned beef and swiss on pumpernickel; turkey, cream cheese and cranberry sauce on a croissant (which I considered, but I'm not a big fan of croissants, so I let him go on); the smokehouse (smoked turkey, Black Forest ham and Vermont cheddar on honey wheat with brown mustard and mayo) which he placed his order for; beef and cheddar; the Sicilian; Horsey beef, homemade roast beef on marble rye with horseradish cheese, onions and sauce...OK, now you've got my attention. I stopped him and said, "I'll have that!"
He added a bag of Kitchen Cooked potato chips to the order and we met and headed to a picnic table along the riverfront to sample our lunch.
The sandwiches run between $4.99-$5.99 and include a pickle spear (a good one at that), no chips included, but the sandwiches are piled pretty high with toppings.
The Horsey beef had a nice kick to it, and I could barely choke down any chips since the sandwich was pretty filling.
StfRon proclaimed his sandwich a good picnic lunch option.
Pottstown Meats has been providing meat in Central Illinois for over 100 years. They also specialize in marinated meats, with tons of flavors of marinated chicken breasts.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

City News Café

Recently I've taken to having lunch at City News Café, 311 Main Street in Peoria.
I've always loved the City News logo. It's so metropolis!
This coffee shop makes me think of the virtues of living downtown in an urban area. Once I saw a sign posted next door that said "unique loft apartment for lease" that really got me to thinking how cool it could be. It's close to the river, close to bars, close to several dining establishments. Now, if only there was a patch of grass for our dog...
The café has a wall lined with shelves of reading material like Peoria magazines, newspapers and more. WiFi is also available.
For drink selections, choose from espresso drinks, brewed coffee, organic tea, hot cocoa, chai and specialty sodas, just to name a few.
The City News has Boar's Head Brand meats and cheeses, with sandwiches like Black Forest ham, smoked turkey and a grilled tomato basil. Also available are salads, pizza by the slice, baked goods, hot dogs and breakfast sandwiches. They also have boxed coffee.
There are lunch specials each day, and I've always gotten out for under $7 with chips and a drink. My favorite so far has been the French dip, even though that day they ran out of hoagie buns and I had it served on sourdough, which might have made it even better. Those Boar's Head meats and cheeses make a mean French dip!
I enjoy sitting in the café and enjoying the day's Sun Times on my lunch hour, watching the many people pop in and out for lunch.
I can also attest to the fact that they serve a delicious black and white cookie, since StfRon and I shared one one day after eating lunch from a vendor cart.
The City News Café is open from 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Friday. Pick up a lunch punch card to save some dough.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Mel's Port O' Call

We recently purchased some bikes to see if we would enjoy riding, and found out a couple of our friends are avid bikers.
They ride from Goodfield to Deer Creek often for dinner at Mel's Port O' Call, a trek dubbed "Ride for Fried". We decided to meet them in Goodfield and give it a shot.
The ride clocked in at about 11.5 miles round trip, and after some grumbling about sore asses, we made it to Mel's.
Keep in mind, the farthest that we'd ridden up to this point was 2.5 miles.
Walking in, we drank in the air conditioning and took our seat at a table along the wall. The restaurant was decorated with several nautical paintings, some oars and other seafaring decor.
Our waitress came over and took our drink order, mostly Fat Tire beers and big ice waters.
We checked out the menu and made our selections. I chose a chicken fried steak served with mashed potatoes, StfRon and Dr. Z ordered burgers, and I think Dr. Z's lovely bride chose chicken strips, but I could be mistaken. Several of the meals came with salads, which were mainly iceburg lettuce, and StfRon placed an order for some chili cheese fries.
Upon the fries arrival at the table, the rest of us expressed shock at the size of the order, but StfRon said for $5, he figured they were going to be large. We sampled a few to help him out.
Our group was a bit high maintenance that night, but our waitress took it all in stride and handled us very well.
Soon, our bellies full of bar food and our wallets not much lighter, we made our way back out to the bikes for the trek back.
Mel's offers lunch specials during the week, and I also noticed a board listing several varieties of pie, which I may have to sample on a future ride.

Saturday, August 02, 2008


Tuesday I turned on the radio at work, which I rarely do anymore. 99.9 was playing some good tunes, and the morning moved along well. I also heard the DJ say probably four times that Crusen's on Farmington Road had a grilled chicken sandwich special with two sides for $5.25 or thereabouts, which sounded like a bargain to me, so when StfRon stopped by for lunch, I threw that option on the table.
He went for it, so we headed to 2117 W. Farmington Road for some lunch.
Crusen's is a college hangout during most of the year, and the wear and tear seems to show on this location more than the Peoria one. They do have a nice back patio (and the War Memorial location recently built a beer garden).
We walked inside at 11:45 and took a booth near a table of about seven people just taking their seats. There were also a couple other booths of customers.
Our waitress stopped by to take our drink order, and we learned she was the only waitress on the floor. No worries, though, as she did great and checked on us several times throughout the course of the meal, even after the dining room filled up a bit more. There were a couple of guys who helped with refills and delivery of meals, too.
We both went with the grilled chicken sandwich basket, and I had cole slaw and applesauce for my sides. StfRon chose their homemade chips and some cole slaw.
The chicken sandwich was juicy and nicely seasoned, not like some bland birds I've been served at other places. I added a slice of swiss to mine for 50 cents plus lettuce and some nice Claussen-esque ridged pickle slices. They keep their menus on the tables, though, and during my meal I read a line I remember from the Peoria location "We'll buffalo anything for a dollar" and contemplated the merits of having this bird buffaloed.
The little plastic containers of sides were more generous than some I've seen places, and the cole slaw had some zip to it.
I also noticed there are lunch specials all week long, including cheeseburgers on Thursdays. With our lunch coming in at around $13, I'm sure we'll be back.