Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Round up

Over the past week I stopped by The Blend in Washington to pick up some locally roasted coffee for gifts.
I also got some yummy stocking stuffers from Holland's Mercantile, also in Washington.
StfRon and I caught two flicks over the holidays at Sunnyland Cinemas in Washington: Seven Pounds and Marley and Me.
Sunday we stopped for lunch at the new Tequila's in Washington. Food and service were fine, and we were surprised to have a small carafe of fresh tasting salsa dropped off at our table for our chips. The lunch specials are also available on Sundays, which was nice to see. There was also some live music being played on a synthysizer as we were leaving.
I visited the Chillicothe Tequila's location a while back.
After a movie we hit the Illinois Antique Center in downtown Peoria. They're doing a bit of remodeling, and we had a nice time browsing around.
Later that evening we stopped by Sullivan's in Peoria Heights and had a bite. I went with one of the specials: peppercorn marinated kebabs. Seriously spicy and quite good. StfRon had a mushroom swiss Angus burger and some fries. We both ended up taking home aluminum foil swans filled with leftovers that made a nice dinner Monday night.
We also enjoyed lunch at Ming's in East Peoria recently where everyone was friendly and the food selection was plentiful, as usual. I enjoyed the mushroom chicken, plenty of fruit, crisp green beans and the marshmallow fruit salad, among other things.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Local biz casualties 2008

I remember putting together a list of local businesses that closed last year, and have been mentally preparing my list for this year for a couple of weeks.
Some of these closures are fairly recent while others happened several months ago.

In 2008, we said goodbye to:
Red Zin
Euro Jack's
The Ugly Mug
Penguin Tap
River Station
White Buffalo
Walt's Dos
Ken's Gourmet Chili
Danner's Salads
Lenny's Comedy Café
Mi Rancho Grande

Saturday, December 20, 2008


I knew they were considering giving lunch a go, and I see that Sullivan's in Peoria Heights has posted a sign touting lunch Monday-Friday.

I hear that Peoria Heights will have another tenant in the former Penguin Tap, and it won't be Amvets Post 64.

Last night I was sad to hear that Po-Boys is closing. We heard a lot of great bands there over the years, and I had some awesome food. I loved the decor, too.
Certainly, finding a great live blues band to hear in the Peoria area will be a lot more difficult now, and I can't imagine the venue having the same kind of class.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Changes in Peoria

Yesterday my husband noticed that Jill's On Galena is closed and that the building and land are for sale by Remax.
He also saw that Mi Rancho Grande on Pioneer Parkway is for lease.
A new restaurant, Rosie's (BBQ and Grill, I think) has moved in to the location at 2626 N. Sheridan Road.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Cyrus Gifts & Home Accents

Cyrus Gifts & Home Accents is one of the shops occupying the nicely restored warehouse building at 401 Water Street in downtown Peoria.
After enjoying a chicken salad sandwich on wheat bread at Café 401 today, I stopped by Cyrus to browse a bit.
I saw some neat wine bottle stoppers, fun greeting cards and lots of tag brand towels and home decor. They had some cute cocktail themed ornaments and nice drinkware. They also had a selection of drink mixes and baking mixes that would make nice gifts.
Cyrus also carries the Crabtree & Evelyn line, some cosmetics and jewelry, and a collection of Robeez toddler shoes.
I also spied a cute black lab puppy napping on a posh bed behind the checkout counter. The dog reminded me of when our black lab was a puppy. I wish I could bring my dog to work!

November, 2009 — Cyrus, along with the Best of Post & Pillar and Jewelry on Water, has moved to the Metro Centre.

Willett's Winery & Cellar

Sunday we were up for doing something different. I was thinking about going to Bishop Hill for the Julmarknad celebration, since we missed it last weekend due to the snow. I checked the events listing on Peoria.com and saw another option I'd been wanting to check out, Willett's Winery & Cellar, was having a Christmas open house, so off to Manito we went.
We drove right by the location at 105 East Market Street when we first got into town, so we ended up driving around and taking a look at things before finding our way to the shop. We discovered a neat old jail house not far from Willett's.
The winery location, originally a harness shop in 1893, was mostly destroyed by fire in 1914.
Today there are warm wood floors with most of the former paint on them sanded down, then sealed, lending them nice character.
Placed throughout the tasting room were several nice pieces of antique furniture displaying wine wares and gift items.
In the middle of the room several small tables were scattered about, making for a nice cozy spot to sit and enjoy wine while visiting.
StfRon and I sampled a couple of their driest reds, and both ended up settling on a glass of the Leon Millet, which, though young tasting, was a very nice selection. Chef Kevin, who prepared hors d'oeuvres for the occasion, pointed out that if you let the wine breathe for a bit, the effervescent effect would disappear.
I tried a sample of the St. Croix, but found it too sweet for my taste.
Next, I sampled the Frontenac on Chef Kevin's recommendation, and found it to have faint hints of strawberry. It was cool and refreshing, so I ordered a glass. StfRon had a glass of Chardonnel.
To accompany our wines, we had several nice hors d'oeuvres, cheeses and crackers.
I found the bottles of wine at Willett's Winery to be quite affordable, $12.50 per bottle on our December visit.
This turned out to be a fun Sunday outing, and we'll definitely keep Willett's in mind for future visits. I'd like to check out their outdoor live music events, and they also have a murder mystery coming up in January I wish I could make, plus a Valentine's event on tap that sounds like a lot of fun.

Sunday, December 07, 2008


With the arrival of the holidays, I had the chance to visit Medici in Normal for a gathering with friends.
Arriving at 120 North Street, we stepped inside and were greeted by a hostess. We had reservations, but were early and had planned to sit at the bar and enjoy a drink.
The floors in the restaurant are a blue tinted concrete, and I also noticed an upstairs, where from the sounds, there may have been a large group party in full swing.
Another interesting feature is the large knarled tree standing proudly in the dining room.
We found several open stools at the bar and took our seats while I was taking in the atmosphere.
Medici is filled with lots of wood, from the rustic table tops made from small soda bottle sized log slices cut and embedded under varnish, which I found myself admiring from time to time during our visit, counting the rings to see how old the trees might have been.
The booths were wooden as well, handmade, low and attractive, and the restaurant was scattered with artwork. One piece, a painting of a filled gumball machine, was most notable to me.
The lighting throughout the restaurant was interesting, and there were several stained glass pieces on display with a prairie style theme, reminiscent of Frank Lloyd Wright, with perhaps more of a contemporary twist.
We ordered glasses of wine and waited a few minutes for those, and by the time we had paid, our hostess had appeared and said our table was ready, so we headed over.
The menu was not extensive but had some nice appetizer selections including tortilla chips with guacamole and pico di gallo, which my friend ordered. The pico tasted fresh and crisp and the chips were dosed here and there with seasoned salt. The guacamole was fine (I'm no guac aficionado).
For dinner, strangely, we all selected pasta. Three of us went with the Mediterranean pasta with varying accompaniments and I selected the penne with a tomato cream sauce, topped with chicken.
I also ordered a house salad, thinking I could get some veggies in and try the creamy parmesan dressing. I was well into my pasta dish before I realized that I had never received my salad, but I had plenty to eat, and it was not on the bill.
I really enjoyed the penne dish, which was much too large for me to finish. Despite this, I did try (and succeed) to choke down a slice of the pecan pie, homemade in Medici's bakery next door. The pie was said to take 15 minutes to warm in an oven, foregoing the microwave. It took much closer to 30 minutes on this night, but we were having a good time and did not mind too terribly.
I found the saltiness of the homemade crust to be an excellent compliment to the sweet pie.
Our waiter was personable and efficient.
My tab pre-tip (minus a drink paid for at the bar) was about $22.
The menu also features sandwiches, salads, a handful of entrées and a few seafood selections.
There is also a Medici in Hyde Park, IL.

Thursday, December 04, 2008


This week we decided to stop for lunch at Zim's, 1200 N. Main Street, Peoria.
Located in the Campustown shopping center, Zim's is simply decorated.
They were not busy at about 11:15 when we arrived, and we were greeted and given menus right away.
Our waitress took our drink order after seating us and we made our selections. I was wavering between the French dip and the spicy chicken swiss sandwich. StfRon suggested I should get the chicken, so he could try it. I have had the sandwich before at Zim's, but it had been quite some time ago.
I ordered that with cole slaw as my side. StfRon went with chili dogs and a cup of loaded potato soup.
The soup and cole slaw arrived first. Both were very good. The cole slaw was really zesty, not the average fare served at a lot of places around town.
When our meals arrived, we were both a bit taken aback by the sheer height of the spicy chicken sandwich. Not only was this breaded bird topped with a tabasco-based sauce, it was also topped with lettuce, tomato, swiss, pickles, mustard, some mayo or maybe ranch sauce and a thick slice of onion. It was almost towering on the plate.
I did remove the tomato, not being a big fan of them, and managed to mash the bun down a bit and take a bite. The sauces and toppings seemed like it would be a bit much, but all of the different flavors made for an interesting experience.
StfRon found that his hot dogs were a little lukewarm and mentioned it to our waitress, who quickly remedied the situation. When the dogs arrived back at the table he ate them and I didn't hear how they were, but that means they must have been to his liking. If the buns are dry or the chili is lame or filled with green peppers, he'll make it known to me.
Zim's is open 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Breakfast is served all day and kids eat free on Tuesdays.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


I was glad to see in today's Journal Star that Leaves-n-Beans in Peoria Heights has been reopened. A couple of former employees are giving it a go. I wish them the best, and plan to stop by in the next week or two.

I also see that the Book Nook is taking over the former Tepper's Gift and Party Place location on University Street in Peoria. The more visible location should serve them well.

Monday, December 01, 2008

auf Wiedersehen

The Kaiserhof in Bradford celebrated their last day of business yesterday.
We've enjoyed many great German meals at the restaurant, and will miss that location.
A new Kaiserhof has been in the works at the Shoppes at Grand Prairie in Peoria, and I would expect them to be open any day now.
Yesterday an ad was posted looking for a few more experienced restaurant personnel for the Grand Prairie site.