Monday, October 27, 2008

Ginger Asian Bistro

My husband, StfRon, has been raving about a place he discovered in Springfield, Ginger Asian Bistro, for a few months now. Recently I had the chance to check it out for myself.
Walking in to the restaurant located at 3100 W. White Oaks Drive, I asked what had made him decide to try the place, since it seemed a little contemporary for his taste. He said it was the promise of free WiFi on the sign that originally attracted him, but I know he's drawn back due to the soothing atmosphere and the teriyaki chicken.
Shortly after we were seated our waiter stopped by and took our drink order, which he delivered momentarily, along with some complimentary hot and sour soup. I'm not a big fan of this soup, but I must say that Ginger's version was the best I've ever tried.
Going with my husband's rave review, I ordered the teriyaki chicken while he went with the sesame chicken. The teriyaki chicken was, as he described, not too heavily seasoned or sweet, and cooked until it had a light, crispy texture, and was accompanied by a nice selection of vegetables, including carrot disks edged in a scalloped pattern.
I was intruigued by some of their cocktail offerings and the dessert menu, which included things like ginger créme brulee, green tea cheesecake and, one of my all-time favorites, green tea ice cream.
This is not your typical lunchtime Chinese fare, and our meal was not followed by a bill delivered on a tray with fortune cookies. But this certainly didn't detract from the experience, perhaps it lent a little something extra.

Punchy about lunch

Lately I've been looking for ways to save on lunches. I love going out to lunch, but it's nice to be able to save a buck or two.
This morning I went and had a free cholesterol screening at the Methodist Wellmobile, at the request of my doctor. After my consult, the nurse gave me a bag of goodies that I opened a few minutes ago.
Inside I found a lunch punch card from Carnegie's 501, 501 Main Street in Peoria. The card is a five for one lunch club: purchase five lunches and the sixth lunch is free. I'll have to check that one out. I like eating downtown, and I know Carnegie's had a nice salad bar the last time I was there for dinner.
Vallarta's, 3510 N. University Street in Peoria, has a punch card. Buy 10 lunches and your 11th is free.
The City News Café, 311 Main Street in Peoria, also has a punch card, and I'm sure there are other places I've yet to discover.
If anyone knows of locally-owned restaurants who offer lunch punch cards or special lunch deals, please comment and let me know!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

TNT Sports Bar & Grill

Sunday we took another ride on the River Trail of Illinois in East Peoria, thinking the fall colors would be out in full force. Either they're not quite there yet, or they aren't going to be that stunning, but the weather was great for a ride nonetheless. Some friends of ours met us for the ride.
The trail passes right behind TNT Sports Bar & Grill, so we made plans to stop there for a bite to eat.
TNT is located at 3304 Meadows Avenue in East Peoria.
We stepped inside to find a dark (especially coming in from the noontime sun) dining room behind the bar, walls lined with wood planks. Through some window openings into the bar that were covered with Plexiglas, we could see a row of several flat screen TVs, each displaying different football games.
Along the bar wall in the room was a nicely maintained shuffleboard table.
When we took our seat, there were about three other tables of people in the dining room, but once noon hit a pretty steady stream of customers flowed into the restaurant.
We had been tossing around the idea of Bloody Marys and breakfast at the bar. Our waitress came by to take our drink order, and since I hadn't seen any sign of a breakfast menu, I asked for an iced tea. StfRon looked at me and said "What, no Bloody Mary??" Our waitress piped up and said they had a Bloody Mary bar. We were all intrigued, and three of us ordered one.
The waitress delivered three glasses of vodka on ice to our table, then escorted us to the Bloody Mary bar to give us the rundown.
There were several bottles of Bloody Mary mix, one of which is TNT's own creation, which she mentioned has won some awards. We all decided to try that one. There were seasonings like Worcestershire, celery salt, salt and pepper, and garnishes including Slim Jims, celery, green olives, pickles and green onions. There was also a pot of chili and some bowls on the Bloody Mary bar.
We loaded up our drinks and headed back to the table to enjoy our creations.
We decided to go with pizza for our lunch. StfRon and I ordered the sweetfire chicken pizza and our friends went with a deluxe. We also ordered some wings in honey BBQ (StfRon's doing) and mild for me.
TNT's pizzas are thin crust. The sauce on the sweetfire chicken pizza ended up having a pretty good kick to it. Between that, the Bloody Mary and the mild wings, my taste buds were heading toward a mild inferno. If I order that pizza again, I think I would have to cut down on the amount I ate.
StfRon enjoyed the honey BBQ wings. I don't particularly care for sweet wings, but I liked the mild ones.
Service was good, and several servers checked on us from time-to-time. I also visited the women's restroom and was fairly surprised at the decor and cleanliness. I really had prepared myself for a more low-end utilitarian restroom, but this was definitely a few steps above.
We were also pleasantly surprised when we got the bill. With the Bloody Mary bar priced at only $3, wings at 35 cents and pizzas at a few bucks off on Sundays, we made off with a bargain, and had we not been on bikes, we could have taken home some leftovers.
TNTs has daily specials and offers free WiFi.

TNT opened a second location in Peoria Heights at the former Penguin Tap in early 2009.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Garner's Pizza & Wings

This week StfRon and I tried the lunch buffet at Garner's Pizza & Wings, 9101 N. Allen Road in Peoria.
Our first stop was the cash register where we paid just under $18 for two lunch buffets (pizza and salad bar) and two drinks. Heading to the dining room, we found that all of the booths appeared to be occupied (some people were in the buffet line, but had already claimed their space). We did find room at the end of a couple of tables of eight chairs, where two men were enjoying their pizza at the other end.
I went for the pizza right away, figuring salad could wait. Hey, I like my pizza hot!
All of the selections had a thin crust. I took a piece of pepperoni pizza that had green peppers and onions on it, and a bread stick with some marinara. Sitting down to try them, I found both to be OK, but they didn't knock my socks off.
On my next trip to the buffet, I snagged a slice of BBQ chicken pizza and some salad: iceberg lettuce with red cabbage, added on some cucumbers and red onions plus some bacon bits and ladled on some Italian dressing.
Now THIS slice was more up my alley! The cheese was nicely browned, the thin crust was nicely dusted in cornmeal, the chicken was tender and not dry, and the BBQ sauce...whoa!! It tasted like Steak 'n Shake chili mac sauce, of which I am a HUGE fan.
It's a good thing that when I glanced back over at the buffet, I noticed that the BBQ chicken pizza was gone or I would have had one or two more slices.
The place kept up a steady lunch business while we were there. The dining room features a TV and there is an arcade room just down the hall.
I've had and enjoyed Garner's wings in the past, but it's been years. They also have appetizers and sandwiches on the menu, and offer delivery.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Business weather report

You might recall that we tried to visit Ken's Gourmet Chili a couple of weeks ago. There is now a for rent sign in the window at Ken's. I'm sorry to hear that because it's fairly close to where I work, and chili sounds great on a chilly afternoon.
I guess there's a new chili game in town, though, that I've been hearing advertised on the radio, somewhere on Allen Road. Chili Works, if I remember correctly.

We also noticed that Lenny's Comedy Café in Washington has closed. We had taken in a show there and found the food to be OK (we had a deep fried appetizer trio), the first comedian that night was so-so, but the second one was a blast. The location (the old Uncle Al's Steak House) seems to be sufficiently cursed.

On a bit of a different note, I hope the Bark in the Park yesterday was a big success. We were out of town for a camping trip (our second attempt ever!) but still donated to one of our favorite causes: DOGS!!
We met some cool dogs at the campground, which was nice, since we left our canoe-capsizing canine at home with Grandma R. I hear she fared pretty well, though, dining on cheese, beef jerky and peanut butter!

Sullivan's Pub

On Wednesday we stopped by Sullivan's Pub, 4614 N. Prospect Road in Peoria Heights, and found the kitchen open for business.
We took a look at the menu, which looked a lot style-wise like the menu from F. Scott's. There were even a couple of my favorite F. Scott's menu items on there: bacon wrapped artichoke hearts and the Brie du Jour. Can't wait to snack on those!
We decided to have some sandwiches at the bar, StfRon going with a cheeseburger and a sesame-crusted tuna steak on grilled toast for me. We also ordered a large order of the hand cut fries.
My sandwich arrived topped with tomato and a light wasabi sauce, not spicy at all. The tuna was thick and nicely prepared with a light garnish of seseame seeds, and I enjoyed the plate presentation, which included a colorful side of three bean salad. The bean salad was light on vinegar.
StfRon enjoyed his burger, and commented on the mixed lettuce greens for garnishing his burger.
The side of fries was tasty, but huge. Next time we'll have to split a smaller one!
I also noticed that Sullivan's is serving homemade soups, which I will be partaking of many times with the cooler weather upon us.
The menu features burgers including bison and turkey as well as beef, tuna, appetizers and soups and food is served each day starting at 4 p.m.

March, 2010 — Sullivan's has been sold and will reopen as another business.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Fall fun

Fall is my favorite time of year. This year I've already enjoyed a caramel apple from Maurie's Candies in Pekin, thanks to my husband. I could live on those all season long.
We've already had our annual fall party, which was a great time.
I'm sure we will soon make a trek to Tanner's Orchard in Speer. Gotta have those apple cider donuts!
This weekend kicks off the Spoon River Valley Drive in Fulton County, and the festivities resume next weekend. Too crowded, you say? There's also the Knox County Scenic Drive on the same two weekends.
Sunday the German-American Society hosts that Schlactfest at Hickory Grove in Dunlap.
Hayrides and Hotdogs run throughout the month of October on Thursday nights at Sommer Park in Peoria.
Of course the next few weeks will bring even more great fall events. I'll rake up a list and post it soon. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Midweek musings

So far it's been a week of Chinese food for me. I lunched at Yen Ching in Peoria one day, where I noticed that the lunch special prices have gone up a bit, but only by a few cents.

StfRon and I had a chance to grab some lunch at Ming Shee in Peoria, where we admired the newly remodeled dining room. I had the Szechuan chicken, which may be my new favorite dish there.
The downside was that in some fluke occurrance, I managed to splatter about three globs of the spicy orange sauce onto the crotch of my light tan pants and the edge of my green shirt. This sort of thing happens to me once in a blue moon, but of course would happen a: when I was wearing light colored pants and b: when we are going straight from work to dinner to a game (see below). It made me briefly envy our friends' policy of carrying backup clothing.
Hey, maybe someone could make Chico pants and a Chico shirt and I could tote them along with my awesome Chico bag! The Chico bag is bundled up to about 4" by 3", and unfolds to a full size grocery bag. But I digress...
StfRon brought me a wet paper towel, and I thought I had gotten all of the sauce blotted up, but apparently it was masked by the fact that my pants were drenched by then. Upon coming back to work, I noticed the distinct spots appearing.
Ah ha! I realized I should have a Shout wipe in my purse. WRONG. Who knows what happened to it, but my best laid plans of always keeping one in there must have fallen by the wayside.

We actually had tried to hit Ken's Gourmet Chili in Peoria instead, with fall weather upon us it sounded like just the thing, but we found them to be closed at 11:16, despite a sign on the glass stating they would return at 11:00.

Tonight we are going to take in a Peoria Rivermen game for the first time in ages, free courtesy of StfRon's quick dialing fingers and mad radio station trivia skills.

This week Tilley's at the River Station opened for business along Peoria's riverfront. It seems they fared the flooding quite well. We probably won't make it there right away, but I'll be interested to hear what people think of it.