Thursday, April 30, 2009


Lou's Drive-In in Peoria is open for the season! Now if it would just stop raining for a day or two...

The Metro Centre Farmer's Market in Peoria kicks off their 2009 season on May 1.

The 5th Amendment Bar & Grill in Peoria has closed. I was looking forward to trying the beef stroganoff and mashed potatoes for $5 I saw on their sign last week, too.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Driving through the Heights, I noticed a sign touting Wine Country's French Toast restaurant's newly offered lunch. Looks delicious, and reasonable to boot.
Located at 4600 N. Prospect Road, they are now serving lunch Tuesday-Saturday from 11-2, and also offer wine tastings Saturdays from 12-4.

Monday, April 20, 2009


Twice in the past couple weeks when driving by the former Original Gulley's BBQ in Peoria, I've noticed people busy at work spiffing up the building. I think we can expect a new tenant there soon.

Last weekend we attended a wine and dine event at Willett's Winery & Cellar in Manito and learned that they will be taking over the Vino 100 location at the Shoppes at Grand Prairie in Peoria. The outlet featuring Willett's wines plans a soft opening May 1, with a grand opening at a later date.
Out of a handful of Illinois wineries I have visited thus far, Willett's has some of my favorite selections.

Peking Garden

On our way back home this weekend, we passed through Eureka and StfRon asked if I wanted to go to Peking Garden. Having never been there, I was game.
We parked across the street from 116 N. Main Street and stepped inside to find about a dozen patrons enjoying a lunch buffet.
We scoped the buffet out, but decided to try something off the menu instead. StfRon placed our order at the counter and we took a seat along the wall.
Soon our order of crab rangoon was delivered, and we dove in. Out of habit, I put a bit of sweet and sour sauce on the fried puff, but after tasting the filling, deemed the sauce entirely unnecessary. The cream cheese filling had visible chunks of what seemed to me to be real crab meat (I'm no crab expert, but I'm pretty sure it was the real deal), and a nice sweet flavor.
My meal arrived: Szechuan chicken with steamed rice, filled with carrots, water chestnuts, onions, green peppers and pea pods, swimming in a nicely spiced sauce. It was certainly good, but I did wish I had tried the hunan chicken instead (I was teetering between the two). I loved the spiciness, but the sauce wasn't quite what I was looking for.
StfRon ordered the Mongolian beef, and the beef, green and white onions and sauce were a nice combination, but not as sweet as some he's had. I sampled the dish and actually preferred it to some of the sweeter versions I've tried.
The tab, with one hot tea and one ice water came in at about $28, and we had enough left over for dinner later this week.
Several more patrons came in while we were there and were greeted warmly by the people working in the dining room. They bantered about how so-and-so was doing and who was in earlier in the day for lunch. Peking Garden obviously offers good Asian fare, and hometown appeal.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The best of central Illinois: chili dogs

After leaving a certain establishment the other day, my husband mentioned that of all of the particular food items of the sort he had just consumed, said establishment had the best.
A seed was planted in my mind: why not do a "Best of" feature on my blog and feature some of our favorite items from local restaurants?
For the first edition, I defer to my husband, as I am not a connoisseur of this particular food item: chili dogs.
My husband will sample a dog with chili on it pretty much anywhere they are on the menu. He's had them at Vertucci's Chicago Style Eats in East Peoria; Emo's Dairy Mart and Velvet Freeze in Peoria; Joe Rogers' Original Recipe Chili Parlor in Springfield; but in his opinion, none top the Hofbrau in Peoria.
Yes, the Hofbrau, German restaurant and bier stube extraordinaire has chili dogs on their menu, available during lunch hours Tuesday-Saturday.
What makes these chili dogs top dog, you may wonder?
First, it's the dog itself. The Hofbrau uses Eisenberg gourmet frankfurters, "made from the finest cuts of USDA inspected beef, seasoned with fresh spices and delicately smoked...add no fillers or sugar...guaranteed a top quality dog every time".
The dogs are nicely broiled, nestled in a soft bun, and topped with an all meat chili. They'll even throw on some chopped onions at your request.
If you enjoy a good chili dog and haven't tried them, think outside of the bun and give the Hofbrau a try.