Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Burgers galore!

We stopped by Sullivan's in Peoria Heights again. Turns out the kitchen is not open yet due to the chef and his wife just having a baby, but should be open very soon.
We got a bit of a rundown of what will be on the menu: hamburgers, bison burgers, Kobe steak burgers, ostrich burgers and the hand cut fries that were served at the Main Street location. Sounds interesting, indeed!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

River Trail of Illinois

We've hiked the River Trail of Illinois from East Peoria's Fon du Lac park district building on Veterans Drive a few times over the years. But, with the recent acquisition of some bikes, I thought it might be fun to ride the trail Saturday, which turned out to be a beautiful morning.
The hard-surfaced hiking and biking trail was finished in 1991, running 4.8 miles north and east out of East Peoria along the old Illinois Terminal Railway line.
Starting out on our bikes, we were soon pedaling and pedaling. Each time we would stop pedaling to coast a bit, we would instantly lose speed. It didn't really look like we were ascending, but checking our GPS, we found that at one point in the ride, we had ascended almost 200 feet!
About four miles into the ride, we were able to stop near an ice cream shop in East Peoria and look for a geocache. StfRon quickly found the hidden gem, and I grabbed a bottle of water from the ice cream shop vending machine, since they were closed.
We did encounter a pretty long uphill slope at one point, but we finally made it to the crest.
We continued on the trail to see the end, and turns out it connects with a trail in Morton. We rode to the Oak Lawn trailer park, then turned back, deciding we could check out the Morton portion some other time.
Riding back was the real treat due to the return trip down the slope. Coasting down, I kept picking up speed until at one point I was cruising at 18 MPH. I was able to coast without pedaling for at least a mile, with the breeze blowing through my hair, enjoying the view of all the trees.
It was at that moment that I decided I would have to hit this trail again on my bike when the fall colors are out in full force.
Several people were out enjoying the nice day on the path, from bikers to walkers. I plan to make it more of a habit now, too.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Carl's Bakery & Restaurant

For years we've talked about stopping by Carl's Bakery & Restaurant, 815 E. Camp Street in East Peoria. How could we resist, with the regal rooster perched in the parking lot? But time and time again when we drove by, we found the place closed.
Today we lucked into finding Carl's open. We stepped inside, which was a bit like stepping back in time. I'll bet things haven't changed much there in 40 years.
There were a few booths in the dining room, and a case of pastries along the back wall near the kitchen. There was also a counter which I'm sure used to host a row of stools, but now there's a booth in front of the counter.
At 10 a.m., we found about three tables of people enjoying coffee and reading the paper.
We took a seat along the wall, above which hung an old framed Daylight Donuts poster.
Our waitress, Edna, was a delight, joking with us throughout our visit. She also took care of the fairly steady stream of people who stopped in for the donuts.
Checking out the menu, I was surprised at how reasonable the prices were. All of the sandwiches except the tenderloin were under $4, many of them even under $3.
We both chose the two eggs with corned beef hash, served with a side of toast. While we waited, we shared an apple fritter that seemed very fresh, filled with apple and cinnamon goodness.
Right about the time we were expecting our food to arrive, there was word from the kitchen, where things seemed to be a little harried, that there was no corned beef hash. We were somewhat devastated by this, as we have corned beef hash pretty much every place that serves it. StfRon decided to sub ham and I went with bacon.
Our meals arrived a bit later with an apology, piping hot. StfRon found the ham to have some sweetness to it, and my two scrambled eggs must have come from the biggest egg laying chicken around.
The lady who brought our meals out stopped over at the next booth and bantered around with the couple who are apparently regulars, as she took their order.
In addition to the Daylight Donuts, Carl's is also home to Broaster chicken, and offers catering and special occasion cakes. They are closed Sunday and Mondays, and serve breakfast and lunch the rest of the week.
On our way out, the lady from the kitchen again apologized for our wait, and said, "Next time we'll have corned beef hash...maybe!" with a wry grin.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Round up

Not a whole lot has been going on with us, save for spending large amounts of money on car repairs!!

Last weekend we had a fun time in Milwaukee with our friends, despite plenty of rain. We did the Sprecher Brewery Tour for the first time, and the beer garden at the end of the tour was a nice time, but a group of guys who had been rowdy from the time they checked in ended up getting the boot in the beer garden. And I don't mean the German beer boot...
We had dinner at Karl Ratzsch's, an historic German restaurant opened in 1904. The live piano music lent a bit of an upscale feel to the evening, and I thought the food was pretty good.
We also hit Ma Fischer's for breakfast. The food was decent but service was a little slow.
And of course we hit our standard haunts, the Old German Beer Hall, Alterra by the Lake, Brady Street, the Public Market and the Wicked Hop.

This week I enjoyed lunch at Water Street Wines, Café and Coffees and Adams Street Café, both in Peoria. We had some wings at Gracie's Chicago Style Grill in Washington. We're still waiting to get a gander at the new menu, which last we heard was supposed to be in place three or four weeks ago.

Around the area, I see that Fedora's at McClure and University Street in Peoria has replaced their sign that disappeared from its post in April.
Emo's in Peoria is closing for the season next week, Wednesday, I think, so head on over for one last treat.
German Specialties will be moving to Peoria's Metro Centre in October, just in time for your holiday shopping enjoyment.
I just remembered something I found out a few weeks ago: Vertucci's Chicago Style Eats will soon be open in their larger location just north of where they currently are (the Shell station) in East Peoria.
The restaurant portion of Tavern on the Water in Peoria closed in late July, and now it looks like the riverfront roost will be dubbed Johnny's Hide-A-Way and the Skybar. Not sure who this Johnny is, but just now it made me think of Johnny B's in Westlake. Back in the day, that was a fun hangout with lots of good finger food. Must have been during the mid to late 1990s, when I also spent a lot of time at Barnacle Billy's along the river in Peoria Heights.

Speaking of the riverfront, despite record flood stages for the Illinois River, looks like Peoria Oktoberfest is staying put. We'll be out there in all our glory later on Saturday.
The fest starts Friday at 5 p.m. and continues through Sunday.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Round up

Friday after work we swung by the newly-opened Sullivan's in Peoria Heights for an after work cocktail. The atmosphere is great and if I didn't know it had just opened that week, I would have thought the place had been there for years. Our former Main Street Sullivan's bartender Larry was holding down the fort, and it was good to see him again. The kitchen won't be open for a couple of weeks yet, but the bar is in full swing.
That night we took in the American English concert at Lakeview Museum in Peoria, one of the free Ameren summer concert series events. This fab Beatles tribute band put on a great show, as usual. If you would like to check them out, they'll be at the Morton Pumpkin Festival this Saturday night.

Saturday night we met some friends at Water Street Wines, Café & Coffee in Peoria and shared one of each of the cheese fondues. Both were good, but I would have to say I prefer the classic. We had a fun time, and I enjoyed our waitress' sense of humor. The second wine we tried, a Shiraz, was quite good, especially after a gentleman dining in the restaurant came over and gave us some chocolate to compliment the wine. I'll have to get the name of the wine from our friends, who were wise enough to jot it down.
We then walked over to John S. Rhodell Brewery & Bar for a pint. It's been a while since I'd been in there, and it was such a nice night, we were able to sit on the brick patio.

Today my mind was on the tomato grilled cheese soup from Le Café in Peoria. I think it may have been the roasted red pepper tomato sauce on our asparagus appetizer at Water Street Wines that reminded me of the soup. It's a hearty, comforting, cheesy soup. Slogging though the rain to the café's door in the Metro Centre, though, only led me to a dark restaurant with a piece of paper taped to the door informing customers that the restaurant is closed for major renovations. It will be interesting to see what the changes will be.
Oh, well, chances are that the soup of the day would have been something else anyway, right?

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Kelleher's Irish Pub & Eatery

The Salty Sam fundraiser last week gave us good occasion to visit Kellher's Irish Pub & Eatery once again.
Phil Luciano's column in the Journal Star brought to light the fact that the popular actor from the local Captain Jinks Show, George Baseleon, is buried in Peoria's Springdale Cemetery sans headstone.
The show aired from 1956-1972, a bit before my time, but apparently had scores of fans, including my husband, StfRon.
A fundraiser was organized to help raise money for a more appropriate burial, with the extra funds going to St. Jude (the last tally we heard before leaving was that $2,600 had been raised).
Kelleher's, 619 SW Water Street in Peoria, hosted the event Thursday, August 28, complete with several characters dressed Salty style, sporting caps and mustaches. Owner Pat Sullivan was one of them.
I've always loved the atmosphere at Kelleher's, with the exposed brick walls and worn wood floors in the old warehouse building. There's even a balcony with upstairs seating, and the back bar is beautiful. Add to all of this a nice brick patio with seating, and the site is a real winner in my book.
There is also a good amount of neat memorabilia scattered throughout the building.
Hanging around watching the Salty Sam hi jinx, we decided to order some appetizers. We settled on an order of Irish chips and some wings, half with Beamish BBQ and half with hot sauce. A few of the other appetizers caught my eye, too, like the Galway Bay crab cakes and the crab crunchers, but despite being a fan of Captain Jinx and the USS Albatross, StfRon is no fan of seafood.
The Irish chips were potato wedges, most likely from frozen, nicely crisped on the outside, topped with some cheese sauce and crumb style bacon bits. The cheese sauce was much tastier than I thought it would be at first glance.
Normally when it comes to wings, I stick to the hot or mild variety, as I haven't found a BBQ wing I like thus far. However, upon sampling these wings doused in Beamish BBQ sauce, I now have an acceptable BBQ wing option, one I will probably even crave from time to time. The sauce hit just the right note with me, smoky, sweet and savory.
With all of the hubbub, we found the service to be good. We were seated at the bar, and our bartender was wearing a Salty Sam cap. He was cheerful and on the ball throughout our stay.