Sunday, November 30, 2008

Café Evergreen

The Metro Centre's Le Café has a new look and a new name: Café Evergreen.
We stopped by this week for lunch after I noticed they were open for business.
The walls are now a crisp white, and the half wall separating our table from the dining room had a heavy plaster texture on it that looked like rich buttercream icing you would find on your cake from Le Bakery next door.
I liked all of the various patterns on the black and white tablecloths gracing the tables.
In addition to the new look, there were three new faces running the show. The young lady who took our order was cheerful and helpful, and told me that of the three quiches that day, she recommended the ham and cheese. No enemy to a ham and cheese quiche, I ordered that. StfRon selected a roast beef sandwich with onion and a horseradish mayo, minus the green peppers that also typically come on the sandwich. His arrived at our table accompanied by some chips, on a large, thick quarter circle of bread, perhaps a ciabatta. My quiche slice was a big double serving filled with large cubes of ham and plenty of swiss cheese. I could taste the hint of nutmeg in the egg mixture, and it reminded me of ham and swiss quiche my mom used to make. There was enough there that I took half home and enjoyed it for breakfast a couple of days later.
StfRon said his sandwich was yummy, and after trying a bite, I would agree.
With our two iced teas and tax, our meal came in at just under $18.
Café Evergreen's menu features soups, several sandwiches, salads and coffee drinks.

Monday, November 24, 2008


This week my thoughts turn to what I am thankful for. Friends and family and health, of course, but I'm also thankful for things unique to central Illinois.
Here's a rundown of 10 things I enjoy about central Illinois this time of year:

1. Bishop Hill's holiday celebrations and Swedish meatballs at the Red Oak
2. Shopping at Abe's in Peoria's Metro Centre
3. Local fresh roasted coffee beans from Leaves-n-Beans in Peoria Heights and The Blend in Washington
4. Saturday lunch specials at the Hofbrau in Peoria
5. Buying gourmet stocking stuffers at Lindy's Downtown Market in Washington
6. Irish coffee at Sullivan's in Peoria Heights
7. Shopping at the 401 shops in downtown Peoria after lunch at Café 401
8. Browsing through the Illinois Antique Center in downtown Peoria
9. Shopping on Seminary Street in Galesburg, with lunch at the Landmark Café and then enjoying a cup of coffee at Innkeepers
10. Driving on Forrest Hill Avenue and Grandview Drive to look at holiday decorations after the first snow

November 25, 2008 — Opening my newspaper this morning, I was sad to see that Leaves-n-Beans has closed. I always pick up holiday gifts there, and have enjoyed much coffee and many lunches in the house over the years.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Missy's Corner Café

One day this week StfRon and I decided to have lunch in Pekin. Not sure where to go, I asked my friend J. for some advice. He tossed out several suggestions, including Missy's Corner Café. He said he thought I would like it, and that they were known for their tenderloin, so we decided to check it out.
Arriving at the non-descript location at 17 N. 4th Street in Pekin during the lunch hour, I found the restaurant filled with a respectable crowd of people. We took a booth by the tall windows in the tidy main dining room, which looked to have been decorated maybe 15-20 years ago, accented with bright blue and white paint and wooden ceiling tiles.
Our waitress followed us to the booth and dropped off our menus and silverware, encased in plastic bags, and took our drink order. Another lady was back with the drinks almost immediately.
On a board along one wall, I saw the day's specials advertised as four pieces of fried chicken with two sides, chili mac with garlic toast or a fish sandwich. On our booth table, I noticed the napkin dispenser was emblazoned with an ad touting Missy's as home of the giant tenderloin, with a picture of a standard Central Illinois tenderloin in the background.
Opening the menu, I noticed the prices seemed quite reasonable. StfRon slapped his closed almost immediately. "What are you having?" I asked. "Giant tenderloin", he said. Giant. Hmm.
When the waitress arrived to take our order, StfRon asked if the Jr. tenderloin was a kids' portion. Ohhh nooo, she said, and did some gesturing to give us an idea of how big it was, saying that it would stick way out of the bun.
"I'll have that," I said, and ordered tater tots as my side. Hey, if I'm having a greasy lunch, I may as well go all the way! StfRon went with the junior tenderloin, too, and copied my tots order.
Our order did take a bit longer than your typical lunch stop to arrive, but not alarmingly long, and we're pretty sure the pounding we heard from the kitchen about five minutes before our meal arrived was our tenderloins being freshly pounded out.
And oh my, did these look good! The breading is hard to describe, but has a lot of texture to it, with lots of nooks and crannies. It looked like the most awesome chicken fried steak I had ever seen, and I almost wished for a side of sawmill gravy to top it with. The bun almost seemed like an afterthought, so I ditched it, and cut in to the tender pork. The breading was crispy and had a great flavor to it.
The photo of the tenderloin on the napkin dispenser is obviously some stock photo and does not do Missy's tenderloin justice.
These tenderloins were both accompanied with huge orders of tater tots. I ate about seven of them, and I swear there were still more than 14 left to take home, along with the other half of my tenderloin.
If I hadn't been pigging out a bit I could have made four meals out of that lunch, but as it is I will have dinner or lunch to look forward to later in the week.
Lunch for two with reasonably priced ($1.25) iced teas came to about $18 including tax.
Both ladies waiting tables in the dining room were friendly and efficient.
Another bonus for me was that they had a bucket o' hard candy at the cash register, but it was not filled with the standard red and white peppermint candies. These were butterscotch disks, one of my all-time favorites. And, to top it off, I don't think they were Brach's that have the cellophane wrappers with twisted ends. These were sealed flat at each end, and seemed to have even more butterscotchy goodness than Brach's.
We popped in to a side room on our way out, and found it filled with several electronic poker games.
Missy's Corner Café serves breakfast all day, and is open seven days a week until 2 p.m.
Next time I find myself on jury duty, I know where I'm headed for lunch!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Comfort food

I love it when I can go to a locally owned restaurant and enjoy some good comfort food.
Yesterday I found myself at Cyd's Gourmet Kitchen in Peoria's Junction City and noticed that the special was turkey pot pie. Sounded good on a chilly day, so I ordered one.
It took a bit of time to warm it up, but soon my piping hot fancy pot pie was delivered to my table in its white tureen topped with layers of golden, flaky pastry.
Digging in, I found it filled with chunks of white meat turkey, potato cubes, pearl onions, carrots, peas, lima beans and celery, all covered in a thick sauce.
Now that hit the spot!

More holiday happenings

With the weather being like it is, I guess it's not so difficult to believe that next week is Thanksgiving.

For more holiday happenings around the area, check out:

The Poinsettia Show at Luthy Botanical Gardens in Peoria Friday, November 21 and Saturday, November 22.
Hundreds of colorful poinsettias on display and Christmas trees throughout the conservatory will be decorated in themes.

Holiday Open House at the Metro Centre in Peoria on Saturday, November 22.

The Chillicothe Christmas Parade will be held Saturday, November 22 at 2 p.m.

The Illinois Antique Center in downtown Peoria will hold a holiday open house this weekend as well.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Holiday happenings

With this chilly weather, maybe you are in the mood for some holiday events. Me, I'm just sniffling, sneezing and taking in large amounts of warm drinks and soups to try and soothe my sore throat.

This weekend Junction City shopping center in Peoria will host a holiday open house on Friday, November 14 from 5-9 p.m. Events include live music, carriage rides, cocktails and snacks plus pictures with Santa (cost for photos is $5).

Hoerr Nursery in Peoria will also be hosting holiday open house events this weekend.
Friday, November 14 from 3- 5 p.m. Buffalo Wild Wings of Grand Prairie will be selling and serving food. There will be drawings and holiday decorating demonstrations. Starting at 6 p.m. there will be live music.
Saturday the open house continues at 10 a.m. with food from Buffalo Wild Wings from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m.

On Sunday, Kickapoo Creek Winery in Kickapoo will have a Christmas showcase featuring tastings, refreshments and gift ideas from noon-6 p.m. I made my first visit to the winery a couple of weeks ago and sampled several of their wines. A couple of the reds I tried were quite nice.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Chiliworks Café

Last week we made the trek to the new Chiliworks Café, 8305 North Allen Road in Peoria.
Walking in to the restaurant in a new strip mall at about 11:30, we found ourselves right at the counter where you place your order.
After looking over the menu board on the wall, I decided to go with a regular bowl of the Cincinnati chili, billed as "one of a kind (unless you're from Ohio) ground beef chili with unique flavors of cayenne pepper, cocoa & cinnamon". I chose cornbread over French bread for my side.
StfRon ordered a chili mac, described as "pasta covered with chili, cheese and onion" with French bread.
We went to fill our drinks at the station and look for a place to sit in the crowded dining room. The walls were painted a warm red and were not adorned by any decorations. We took a seat near the stone fireplace in the center of the room.
Our food arrived shortly. My chili, topped with a bit of shredded cheddar and diced onions was not scaldingly hot, so I was able to dig in right away. I could taste the cinnamon and cocoa, which nicely complimented the tasty chili.
StfRon sampled his chili mac and found it to be too heavy on the green peppers for his taste. After trying mine, he decided to have a bowl of that instead.
The cornbread was a nice accompaniment to the bowl of chili.
The owner stopped by our table as he was visiting the dining room and asked how everything was. With only a couple of seats along the window bar open, the place was hopping.
The chili menu features original chili, an incandescent variety, turkey chili, plus there is an Austrian onion soup on the menu. There is Texas chili (with steak), cheese soup and bison chili, as well as some sandwiches, salads, pastas and desserts. In addition to a regular bowl of chili, you can order a large bowl or a bread bowl. Chiliworks also features some kid's menu selections.

January, 2009 — We recently visited Chiliworks and found that they have added some interesting art to the dining room wall, which dresses things up a bit. I also noticed that they are serving beer, and there are a few on the list that StfRon was wishing he could partake of during the lunch hour.

May, 2009 — Chiliworks has closed.

Monday, November 03, 2008

German Specialties relocation

Maria from German Specialties (formerly located at 3919 N. Sheridan Road in Peoria) had told us a couple of months ago that she may be moving the shop to the Metro Centre.
Plans must have changed because this weekend we ran across their new digs in the 3000 block of University Street, tucked in between FedEx Kinkos and Hobby Lobby. The new location looks like it will be much larger, and they should be opening soon, just in time for us to pick up some yummy Christmas stocking stuffers!