Monday, March 30, 2009

Round up

Last week I unintentionally had a bit of an ethnic fest for lunches.
I enjoyed some great Hunan chicken at Ming Shee in Peoria, chicken enchiladas at Lorena's in East Peoria, and Hunan beef at Yen Ching in Peoria.

To end the week, I had a veggie sandwich with dill sauce and an added slice of swiss on multigrain served with deli chips at Adams Street Café in Peoria. With a drink, this lunch came in at about $7, which I noticed was a stark contrast to my last veggie sandwich at Jimmy John's which I believe ran higher than that without a drink or chips. Granted, the one at Jimmy John's was much larger, but also packed with calories (800+).

We attended the 2009 Pere Marquette Gala and very much enjoyed hearing the Squirrel Nut Zippers perform.
Sunday we had lunch at Feldan's in Peoria. We got to try the brown sugar ham, and I thought I noticed a hint of cloves as well. Quite good, as was the pizza from the buffet. StfRon also really enjoyed the baked beans.

We also stopped by Sullivan's in Peoria Heights. I see they will be hosting a bash on election night April 7.

My husband is trying to talk me into chili dogs for breakfast at Emo's in Peoria this Thursday. That angle may not work with me because a) I don't like chili dogs very much and b) I'm not a morning person, but it is for a good cause. From 5:30-10 a.m. the menu items at Emo's will be half price, and all proceeds will go to the Arthritis Foundation.
I do love Emo's cheese fries and chocolate sodas.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Round up

A couple of weekends ago I headed out early to attend a funeral out of state. I thought some coffee to go would start the trip out right, so I stopped by Lester's Tasty Donuts on Glen in Peoria and was surprised to see a couple of gentlemen perusing the Saturday paper at the counter prior to 6 a.m.
I placed my order for a glazed donut and a coffee to go. Beware: A glazed donut sounds a lot like eight glazed donuts, which I soon found out when a large box was placed in front of me, along with my coffee. In my early morning stupor, I just thought they had a shortage of small packaging, until I heard the total. No problem, though, as the donuts came home with me later that evening.
They kept up a pretty steady stream of customers while I was there, which surprised me at that hour, but was nice to see.

StfRon and I met for lunch at Thanh Linh in Peoria one afternoon and enjoyed the buffet.

This weekend we took advantage of the Sunnyland Ice Cream Shack in Washington being open early in the season, and I had a hot dog with mustard and relish accompanied by a butterscotch sundae with krunch. The hot dog tasted great, and the small sundae was a bit too large for me, but very good. Business was pretty steady.
Then we headed over to Sunnyland Cinemas and watched The Knowing, which was interesting.

Sunday we rode our bikes to Denhart Baking Company in Washington for some breakfast. We got one of the last two tables, and by the time we left, people were waiting for tables. I'm not sure if some of the crowd was due to Golden Corral being closed, or just general good business. They were also seating people in the B & B dining room.
I was glad to see so many out and about.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Venue Art Gallery Wine Social

We popped in for the grand opening of the Venue Art Gallery Wine Social in September last year, and have been planning to visit again once an event or date caught our eye.
This past Friday we headed over to 112 N. Main Street in Washington to hear Joe Metzka play his first show at the Venue.
We headed upstairs and sampled some wines to help us select a bottle. Some of them, like the Hey Mambo red and Don Rodolfo Malbec we have had before, and we wanted to try something different.
We settled on the Plungerhead Lodi Old Vine Zinfandel, which was a nice start, paid for that and our $5 cover charge and picked out a place to sit with our friends. We chose one of the low, round tables rather than a couch. Both couches were attractive and Victorian in style, however there would have been no place for us to stash our wine glasses.
The Venue was not serving food, however you can bring some in with you from home, or pop by Lindy's Downtown Market (great cheese selection) or the C Note Pub across the street and bring something with you to gnosh on.
I really enjoyed the music, as I always do when listening to Joe play.
For our last bottle, our friends selected the Oberon Napa Cabernet Sauvignon.
My husband poured some, swirled it in his glass and took a sniff, and swore he smelled hints of caramel corn, which gave us all a laugh. This too was a good wine.
The walls of the Venue showcase art, pottery and jewelry of local artists, available for purchase.
If you're not a wine lover, they do have a selection of beers available.
The Venue is also available for private parties.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Childers in Peoria is featuring $5 specials all day long. On a Wednesday we enjoyed two of them, the ribs with fries and an Italian beef sandwich with fries.

The Ice Cream Shack in Sunnyland is open for the season.

Sunday we set out to have breakfast. First stop, closed. Second stop, not much of an offering. Third stop, closed. Fourth stop, paydirt!
One World
in Peoria served up a great breakfast, and we will keep them in mind for future Sunday dining.

The Mountain Mudd coffee stands in the area closed a few months ago. We see that the Washington location will soon be taken over by The Blend, operating as The Blend Express.

A reader contacted me and mentioned that eight Peoria area funeral homes are owned by a Texas conglomerate. Clary Funeral Home and Deiters Funeral Home and Crematory are locally owned, to name just a few.

Knollaire Flowers on Sheridan Road in Peoria is going out of business.

A couple of weeks ago we got a USDA choice rib roast from Alwans & Sons Meat Company, so my husband could try his hand at smoking it. Pat was very helpful and the meal turned out great.

As a side note, it's also worth mentioning some great service we received.
Last weekend while running around Peoria, we noticed that one of our tires was losing air. We stopped and put some air in, then headed over to a locally owned tire center only to be told that they were closed. The guy suggested Wal Mart, since he said most other places in the area were closed as well.
Rather than go to Wal Mart, StfRon figured we could make it home and take it to Brecklin's, our local stop.
On a whim, we punched up auto service on our GPS and found Meineke on Prospect, which was about 5 minutes from where we were by then. StfRon gave them a call, and they said to come on in.
Turns out they were closed as well and were just finishing up the last customer's car, but we never even realized it until they were done. They were very friendly and courteous, not at all irritated that we kept them 15-20 minutes over, and had us on our way very quickly.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Leaves-n-Beans Roasting Co.

We stopped by Leaves-n-Beans Roasting Co., 4800 N. Prospect Avenue in Peoria Heights, to pick up some gifts a couple of weeks ago.
We used the downstairs entrance, since we were looking to buy some beans, and found ourselves at the end of a line of coffee buyers.
There was a lady busily scooping and bagging coffee, and soon the new owner popped down, saw the line and happily pitched in.
We ended up getting some of their Snickerdoodle, a long time favorite, and a vanilla variety as gifts, and some bananas foster beans for us on a whim. We aren't as much into flavored coffees as we used to be, although I still appreciate a good brew with cinnamon flavor, especially during the holidays. But bananas foster seemed interesting enough to give a try.
Since visiting Leaves n' Beans, we have noticed our regular home brew, Yuban, which I've drank for 15 years or more, at least the can we are using now, is not as bold as it always was, so we may be on the lookout for a new bold home brew.
The owner had us set in minutes, and I was surprised to find the old punch cards still on file from several years back when I started one. He said that he would add us to the computer, and that he has plans to do some demographics studies as far as where customers are coming from and such.
The lady in front of us was actually from the suburbs of Chicago, and he mentioned that they offer shipping, but she said she does make it to the area often enough to stay stocked up.
We then popped upstairs and each ordered a cup of brewed coffee to go and found a few people sitting at tables visiting.
The coffee shop is featuring live music some evenings, and has added dining options. I am looking forward to making it over there for lunch one day soon.
It was refreshing to see the enthusiasm the new owner has for the business, and great to see them doing so well.

April, 2009 — Leaves-n-Beans is now serving both breakfast and lunch, including some vegetarian options. They also carry organic coffees.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Grumpy Pete's Steakhouse

We tried to stop at Grumpy Pete's Steakhouse, 1440 N. 8th Street in Pekin a few months ago for lunch, but they were closed.
At a birthday bash, a couple of our friends got us a gift certificate to the restaurant, so we made plans to meet them there for dinner.
I called late on a Wednesday afternoon and made reservations, but when we arrived on Friday, the lady at the hostess stand could not find us on the list. No worries, though, because we got right in.
The dining room had a bit of a Tuscan flair, a holdover from it's previous tenants, I would guess.
Our waiter Nick stopped by and told us he would be right with us, and had heard me talking about a wine list, so he mentioned that he would bring one by.
After ordering our drinks and some appetizers, we decided on our meals. Minney ordered a pasta dish, J and StfRon selected the ribs ($16.95)and I went with a petite filet ($18.95).
Our appetizers arrived: fried button mushrooms ($5.95) and sautéed, smothered mushrooms ($5.95). Both were good, the latter topped with Swiss cheese.
A live musician set up in the bar, which is fairly close to the dining room, and started playing some tunes.
Our salads arrived (cole slaw for StfRon) and I enjoyed the poppyseed dressing I had selected.
Diving in to dinner, I found my steak to be nicely seasoned and well prepared. StfRon said the ribs were good, however he has become a bit of a rib snob since purchasing a wood smoker a couple of years ago. He knew these ribs were not wood smoked, but they were quite tender.
My side of green beans was standard, but StfRon's side of glazed carrots topped them, with their maple sweet glaze.
Nick seemed to be pretty busy throughout our stay, but he checked in with us at opportune points to make sure we were doing OK.
Grumpy Pete's is not currently serving lunch and is open Tuesday-Sunday at 4 p.m.

Grumpy Pete's closed in late 2010 or early 2011.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Feldan's Pizza, Pasta & More

Today's lunch plans were derailed when StfRon called me en route and said that Feldan's was open.
I've been watching Feldan's Pizza, Pasta & More make progress on the former Ned Kelly's building at 4114 N. Brandywine Drive in Peoria for a few months now.
Turns out that yesterday was their first day of business.
Knowing that in advance, I might not have gone today. I usually like to give new restaurants a few weeks to work out the kinks.
I needn't have worried here, though.
Walking in, I was immediately greeted by a cheerful gal who welcomed me. StfRon checked out the buffet and said that's what he was going to have, so I decided to do the same. We paid our $10.59 each (includes buffet and drinks between 11 a.m.-4 p.m.) plus tax and went for round one.
In the center of the buffet area there is a salad bar with an iceberg lettuce and red cabbage mixture, matchstick carrots, peas, croutons, cheddar cheese, cottage cheese, red onions and more, flanked on the left by dressings. I put a drop of one of the white dressings on my plate to sample, lest I be taken aback later by Bleu cheese, and found it to be ranch, but a much better ranch that most salad bar fares. StfRon later said the French dressing was very good, too.
On the opposite side of the veggies there were some fruit selections, two potato salads and white cake.
The buffet manager was on hand checking temps on the food, and everything was fresh and hot.
For round two, I sampled the fried chicken, breadsticks, pizza and a Feldan's roll.
The fried chicken was hot and juicy, with a nice crisp coating that appeared to have cornmeal in it. It wasn't salty, and was very good.
The breadsticks were chewy and the accompanying marinara was herbed and flavorful.
The roll was sweet, hard on the outside and soft inside.
The pizzas I tried were the orange chicken and Hawaiian. The Hawaiian was good, but the orange chicken pizza knocked my socks off. The orange was not prominent, but the pizza had lots of herbs on it and the sauce had a nice sweetness. I would certainly order a whole pie of that!
StfRon loved the pizza sauce and crust.
I went back one more time to take a small piece of the dessert pizza, and snagged a piece of cheese pizza while I was at it. The cheese pizza was fine, and the dessert pizza tasted almost like a homemade Snickerdoodle cookie.
We passed on several other items like pastas, green beans, two kinds of soup, mashed potatoes (skin on), corn flake fried chicken and more.
Throughout our visit a friendly server kept checking on us and whisking away our used plates.
The decor has been brightened with lots of white paint since Ned Kelly's closed, and train pictures are placed throughout the dining area. The tableside menu enlightened us on the fact that trains were selected as the theme in order to bring back hospitality from days gone by. And I would say they are doing a great job of that based on my experience today. Everyone was very cordial, friendly and helpful.
Feldan's has a dinner buffet as well for a couple dollars more, plus you can order wings, sandwiches, chicken and pizzas and an express lunch (11 a.m.-2 p.m.) off the menu.
Each day the buffet features specials, such as pork Adobo and sweet brown sugar ham.

Celebrating a blogiversary

On March 5, 2006, I looked at a flashing cursor on Blogspot, took a breath and dove in.
Yes, I've now officially been on a three year journey writing about local businesses in central Illinois.
It has truly changed my way of thinking, shopping and dining.

In anticipation of my blogiversary, I checked out some of the search terms my visitors, from 10 different countries, have used to arrive at this site.
The ones that stand out can be compartmentalized into three topics.
First category, I'll call...
Strange bedfellows:
chocolate brie panini sandwiches peoria il
vonachen's naked
whip gils

Next, Not sure how this routed them here:
brimfield's dark chocolate graham crackers (might have to search on this one myself!)
buy a keg in peoria il
when was the bbq express in oswego il torn down

And finally, Terms I suspect my husband typed in:
extreme toffee coffee
leather clothing repair in pekin, il (for his Lederhosen, people!!)

As regular visitors probably know, there haven't been a lot of changes to the blog in the last couple of years.
Towards the end of last year I did toss around the idea of adding a star rating, to change things up a bit. It would also give a sort of yardstick to measure things by.
My thought was to start each place out with a number of stars, say five, the minute I walked in the door, and for each thing that didn't meet my expectations I would knock off half a star. There would also be the potential to add stars for bonus things.
I bounced the idea off my husband and we decided it had the potential to be like a local newspaper we know, who will say nothing negative about a place at all when reviewing it, however will only give them three out of five stars.
So for now, the jury is out on that.

In the interest of shining a light on great local businesses, I've encountered many, many hits, and not too many misses. Of those who were not really blogworthy (heck, me bashing a local biz on a support local businesses blog kind of defeats the purpose), I always give them a second try.

I still have so many places to check out. If you have some favorites, let me know! I'm always on the lookout for the local...

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Muddy Paws Pet Wash

We first noticed the Muddy Paws Pet Wash when it moved into a bay at JH Car Wash, 106 Muller Road in Washington last year, and commented on what a great idea it was.
In January, we picked up a dog who was coming to stay with us for a while and found her to be a bit, er, ripe, shall we say.
On our way home we figured it would be a perfect time to try out the do-it-yourself pet wash.
We stepped in to the enclosed room complete with stainless steel tub and a ramp to help escort man's best friend into said tub.
There was also a place to secure your pooch in place while you wash.
The controls were very much like car wash controls; feed in some bills and select your options: soap, rinse, conditioner and a hair dryer. We tried it out on our soon-to-be houseguest, and it cracked me up because the dryer was so forceful it blew this little mini pinscher's skin back in folds.
I think it was $5 for eight minutes of wash/dry time, which was just right for us.
The best part about the Muddy Paws Pet Wash is the fact that you don't have to clean the pet hair out of your household bathtub when fished. They have a cycle for sanitizing the tub, and you and your clean canine are on your way.