Wednesday, December 22, 2010

World Gourmet Foods

World Gourmet Foods comes up almost every time I talk to one of my friends about shopping in Bloomington. She and her boyfriend love to stop in and sample cheese each time they are in town.
I visited World Gourmet in November and perused their wide selection of coffees, teas and ethnic and gourmet items. Eventually I made my way to the cheese sampling and tried six cheeses they had available for tasting. Knowing my husband's taste, instead of going with one of those I selected a half pound of a six year aged cheddar from Wisconsin.
I tossed in two pieces of Baklava for myself and a bag of ginger chews (something I don't have to worry about the husband bogarting) and I was set.
After trying the cheese melted on burgers and breakfast sandwiches, I think I may become a cheddar snob. The flavor was incredible.
My Dining Companion, who was my partner in crime for this shopping event, also made off with a few hunks of cheese.
Before leaving we wandered past the buffet area in the restaurant and saw that it was not a run-of-the-mill selection. Several people were enjoying lunch in the dining area.
World Gourmet will be on my list of stops the next time I am shopping in Bloomington.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Noted

Peoria has a new breakfast and lunch spot at 201 E. Lake, Over Easy Café. We've tried lunch and I am looking forward to going back to check out the breakfast fare.

Amber and Marty's Fillin' Station restaurant is open at 2400 Washington Road in Sunnyland.

Mickie's Pizzeria has opened a new location in Dunlap.

If you haven't heard the good news, Emo's of Peoria was purchased by the owners of the Ice Cream Shack of Peoria, so the tradition will carry on at the corner of War Memorial and Prospect.

I've also heard from a reader that a hair salon and spa called Pure Bliss will be opening soon in Glen Plaza.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Mediterranean Mart

Mediterranean Mart, located at Glen Avenue and University Street in Peoria, carries a plethora of Mediterranean goods.
The compact store stocks some produce, dried fruits, pita bread (small and large), baklava, tahini, coffee and much more.
On my first visit they had fresh eggplant and citrus fruits, in addition to some other produce, plus a wide array of other items.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Noted

There are signs posted at Water Street Wines, Café and Coffee in Peoria stating that the location is opening soon under new ownership.

Recently I've enjoyed lunches at Rizzi's on State and Avanti's in Peoria and Ming's in East Peoria.

On Small Business Saturday last weekend we shopped the Metro Centre in Peoria, and visited many of the merchants there where I found some nice gift items.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Noir Tapas & Rendezvous Lounge

This month for date night I chose a movie followed by dinner at Noir Tapas & Rendezvous Lounge in Peoria Heights.
We arrived at Noir shortly before 7 p.m. on a weeknight and were able to get a seat right away, but within less than an hour of our arrival there would have been a wait for a table.
There were chocolate leather couch style booths, bench booths and tables plus tall tables available for seating and some fun vintage horror flicks were being broadcast against the back wall.
We chose a bottle of wine from the list of many and decided to start with two tapas (appetizers meant to share) selections: sauteed mushrooms with garlic and the bruschetta.
Our order arrived quickly.
The mushrooms, in this case Crimini mushrooms sauteed with garlic, parsley and applewood bacon, were incredibly rich and flavorful. The bruschetta, toasted crostini topped with tomatoes, feta cheese and a balsamic reduction was great.
Next we ordered the spicy Chorizo skewers, which were presented like upside down meatball lollypops. The Chorizo was paired with Gruyere cheese and the balls were coated in a breadcrumb-type crust. Not being a huge fan of Chorizo, I was surprised at how good they were.
After enjoying some more of our wine and allowing our food to settle, I couldn't get the gelato I had noticed on the menu out of my mind so we ordered it to share.
The gelato, vanilla bean and roasted banana served with fried plantains topped with rich whipped cream was a nice finish to the meal.
Our server was helpful and attentive, and with our wine selection (about $30), our bill with tip came to about $80.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Apollo Theatre

October 30 we caught a show at Peoria's Apollo Theatre, which I've wanted to do for ages.
The main feature was Vincent Price's "The Tingler", a black and white film from 1959.
Admission was just $5 each and we received some candy and popcorn and sodas were also available. I see now on their site that $5 is a suggested donation, and had I known that, I would have gladly paid more.
We were treated to an old Red Riding Hood cartoon, an episode of "Thriller" (a 1960s TV series), and then we got to enjoy "The Tingler".
The Apollo opened in 1914 and showed movies for more than 40 years. For several years now the theater has been used to show classic, foreign and independent films.
Once inside you can see much of the Art Nouveau grace the theater shared with so many entertainment fans over the decades.
We have also heard a couple of people talk about private parties they have attended at the Apollo, which sounds like a blast.
I thoroughly enjoyed our evening and will be keeping an eye on their future events.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Noted

Dane's Bar & Grill in the former Feldan's location off Brandywine in Peoria is hosting a grand opening Saturday, November 13. Find a coupon for a buy one get one 50% off sandwich in today's Washington Times-Reporter.

With weather like this, who knows, it may just rain on your winter wedding day! Bremer Jewelry (Peoria and Bloomington) offers a full refund of the purchase price of your wedding bands if the National Weather Service at Peoria Regional Airport measures an inch or more of precipitation between 12:01 AM and 11:59 PM (Central Standard Time) on your wedding day.

Jones Bros. Jewelers in Peoria is giving away an Everlon diamond knot pendant and chain valued at $600. Visit their web site or Facebook page for details.


As a brief round up...

We met a group at the newly re-opened Kep's Place in Washington recently. Things were hopping, but we did manage to snag an order of their soft pretzels. They may be deep fried (I'm not entirely sure), but were very good, and I will be keeping them in mind for future bar snackage.

We had dinner at Noir in Peoria Heights tonight. I should be posting about our experience soon!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Noted

I got the scoop from a reader: the former Cummins drive through location at War Memorial and Route 91 in Peoria is now called Meat-n-Place. I will have to check it out.
Meanwhile, if you were jonesing for some of Cummins corn fritters, I did see them on the specials board at their Washington family restaurant last weekend.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Noted

Just heard via Peoria.com that Water Street Wines, Café and Coffee in Peoria is closing their restaurant this Saturday. I will miss their cheese fondue and black bean burgers!

Monday, October 25, 2010

309

This month I visited 309 in Peoria's Junction City twice, once for drinks and once for dinner.

On my first outing my husband and I sat at the bar. He enjoyed an Oktoberfest beer and I had a glass of the Cigar Zin for $8.
We selected two of their artisan cheeses to accompany our drinks, the Fromager dʼAffinois, described as a rich French double cream made from cowsʼ milk, and the Gruyere de comte, a semi-soft unpasteurized cowsʼ milk cheese from France. The bartender said that the Gruyere is their most popular cheese.
Two artisan cheeses were $10 and came served with wild flower honeycomb, quince membrillo, and crackers. We also had some of their wonderful warm crusty bread with butter.
My husband preferred the Gruyere but I liked both cheeses, perhaps even enjoying the d'Affinois better, and the honeycomb and quince fruit spread were a great accompaniment.

On my second visit, I met some friends for dinner.
The dining room, like the bar area, featured a contemporary flair and the soft tunes piped in reminded me of nightclub music.
A fellow olive lover at the table ordered the fried olives stuffed with goat cheese and herbs de provence ($3) for a starter and was kind enough to offer me a bite. The whole dish came with three or four olives and I sampled a half of one, but wow, what a taste explosion!
With a backup meal choice of the half roasted chicken served with olive oil mashed potatoes and a lemon-rosemary pan sauce ($16) in mind for me, we asked about the days' grilled market fish selections and there were quite a few. I selected the rich Hawaiian butterfish served with spicy aioli and had asparagus as my side. Both were wonderfully prepared.
Another friend ordered the Caprese Burrata with heirloom tomatoes, basil, and aged balsamic ($8) and I tried a bite of the cheese which was rich, creamy and delicious.
Our server was professional, and recognized when my fish arrived with the wrong sauce without me having to point it out.
309 is also open for lunch and has private party rooms available.

August 2012 — 309 has closed.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Noted

Kep's sports bar has opened in their new building in Washington. If you've been waiting to get back in there, you can also enjoy $30 worth of food for $15 by purchasing the Seize the Deal offer today.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Richard's On Main

I last visited Richard's On Main many years ago, and one thing I remembered was that they had Framboise, a raspberry lambic Belgian style beer, on draft.
Fast forward about 9 years and we decided to make a stop at the downstairs pub in Peoria once again. Much to my surprise, they still had a raspberry lambic on draft!
There's something appealing to me about a basement pub, especially one with exposed brick walls, ancient tile floors and great historic photographs of downtown Peoria from eras past.
An added bonus on this visit was finding out how many of Richard's menu items are home made. The hand battered mushrooms are not poured frozen from a bag. The pizza crust and sauces are made from scratch. The list of items the bartender identified as being made on site was impressive.
They also feature hand cut steaks, a long list of sandwiches, some salads and burgers.
On this visit, we tried their white garlic pizza and an order of the battered mushrooms. Both hit the spot, especially for me when washed down with a chilled St. Louis Framboise.
Taking note of all of the sandwiches (ranging in price from $4.29 all the way to $29.95 for the "Clydsdale Horseshoe") available and the large juicy steak a lady at the bar was enjoying, we discussed coming back soon for both lunch and a steak dinner.
And if we were night owls (rather than losers who rarely leave the house after 8 p.m.), it would be good to know that Richard's serves food until 4 a.m.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Noted

The Goodness Café in Peoria has announced they will close the business at the end of their lunch on Saturday. Lunches there were tops in my book.
They will continue making breads and sweets through Peoria Bread Company, which is next door to the café.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Noted

Michael's Italian Feast, which has locations in Washington and Germantown Hills, plans to open an additional location on Riverside Drive in East Peoria in the strip mall next to Office Max.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Main Street BBQ

I frequently pass through the small northwestern village of Wyanet for work. Usually, I am too early to enjoy the treat of lunch at Main Street BBQ, 115 East Main Street. However, last week I made the time.

The menu at Main Street boasts standard BBQ choices like a brisket platter (2 sides, $9.95) and Memphis-style pork ribs (6 bones, 2 sides $9.95- 12 bones for $18.95). However, this time I enjoyed my BBQ mainstay, the pulled pork sandwich.
The sandwich was a large helping of tender pulled pork with a very distinct hickory smoked flavor. The home made dry rub created a very tasty mahogany colored bark. The bark has a slightly sweet flavor and not too much spice.
For my sides I chose creamy cole slaw (Memphis style, on top of the sammie) and BBQ beans. The beans have a nice spicy-sweet flavor without being overly spicy. Chunks of smoked pork are also found lingering in the sauce.
The menu is varied including garden salads ( dinner salad and Smokehouse salad), a kids menu, and "Award Winning BBQ Nachos".
My only complaint is that the smoker of choice is a Smokin' Tex Smoker, which puts out good, consistent food, but does not produce a noticeable smoke ring. The smoke ring is a pink ring which is created when smoke cures the outside of the meat during the cooking process. However the flavor is not affected by the lack of the ring, as far as I can tell.

The owner seems to be doing well in this small railroad town and plans a remodel this winter.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Noted

There is a sign posted at the strip mall in the 600 block of N. Cummings Lane in Washington that says Aunt Dena's Bakery coming soon.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Noted

The Bean coffee shop in East Peoria is now closed.

Keith Cotton Photography has made nice use of a former service station on Prospect Avenue in Peoria.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Hick'ry Stick Catering, Carry Out & Café

We visited Hick'ry Stick Catering, Carry Out & Café for lunch about a month after they opened their new place on East McClure in Peoria.
We made our selections at the front counter, paid and took a seat at one of three tables in the cozy dining area.
My husband and I both chose pulled pork sandwiches, his the deluxe which comes topped with cole slaw. For my sides I ordered slaw and baked macaroni and cheese and StfRon ordered baked beans and fries.
I also ordered a home made bread pudding with vanilla rum sauce.
My husband's sister and brother-in-law were along, and she selected the porky fries (skin on fries topped with pulled pork, bbq sauce and cheese sauce) while her husband went with the pulled pork as well.
I made note of one of their drink offerings, a pineapple lemonade, which sounded interesting, but I passed this time in favor of the bread pudding being my sugar intake for the meal.
Our food was brought out shortly by the friendly gal who had taken our order. She also checked back with us later to see how everything was, and we had nothing but good things to say.
The pork was succulent, juicy and smoky, topped with a tangy sauce. The bread the sandwiches were served on was a soft homemade white bread.
The baked mac and cheese had a good cheese twang to it and the slaw was a creamy variety.
The executive chef Ryan came by our table to see how everything was and we learned that they were using a small Southern Pride smoker on site and their big daddy trailer smoker was at Oktoberfest for the weekend.
The restaurant kept up a steady stream of customers almost the whole time we were there.
Our meal with two sandwiches, two sides each and one dessert came to about $21 with tax.
The menu at Hick'ry Stick also includes panini and other sandwiches including an avocado vegetarian offering and several homemade desserts.
I didn't try the porky fries at the restaurant, however I did get a sampling of them at the Oktoberfest later, and now I see why my sister-in-law had to go for round two. Yum!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Olio & Vino

We visited the newly-opened Olio & Vino in Peoria Heights on a recent Friday night.
We were greeted shortly after our arrival and welcomed to sample the wares, which include hand-pressed olive oils, balsamic vinegars and wines..
Tasting some of the olive oils, I was surprised by the fresh grass-like taste.
We have visited a couple of olive oil/vinegar shops similar to this in the past, but the thing that made a difference with Olio & Vino was the assistance of the staff in mixing samples of oil and vinegar together for a taste explosion. I would never have thought to do such a thing.
After sampling the Tuscan herb olive oil mixed with honey ginger balsamic, we were sold.
All of the oils and vinegars were $16 a bottle, even the 18-year oak aged balsamic. If we had bought three bottles we could have paid $45, a savings of $1 per bottle.
In addition, the shop carries spices and has an innovative wine-tasting station where there were several wines to chose from.
We learned that a few times a year they will run a "bring back your bottles" sale where you will receive a discount for returning some of your empties and picking up some new ones.
We left the shop and headed straight to Dixon's in East Peoria for some fresh seafood to try our new concoction on.
I thought to myself that the oil and vinegar would last us a long time, but I've already found myself using them in so many things. I'm sure we'll be back for more soon.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Noted

Hey all you ice cream fans, the Ice Cream Shack in Peoria is set to close for the season September 26. I would like one more order of tamales and a butterscotch sundae while I still have the chance.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Sleepy Creek Vineyards

On our way to Indiana last weekend, our friend noticed a sign for Sleepy Creek Vineyards in Fairmount, Illinois. We made note of the exit (exit 206 off I-74) and she looked up their web site to make sure the were open Sundays.
We also read with interest about their wine called Little Woody, billed as a semi-dry red wine with lots of oak flavor, but were dismayed to see it was marked as sold out for the time being.
On Sunday afternoon we stopped at the winery for a tasting.
The wine tasting building was a tall, rustic-looking wood sided building with a wood shingled roof, yet the interior was light and bright with an open, airy feel.
We stepped up to the bar and went through the whole gamut with the engaging gentleman who co-owns the winery. We sampled whites, reds, even their secret recipe Sangria and both a white and red wine slush, which were deliciously refreshing summer drinks.
The only wine that really wasn't tops with us was the Three Amigos, which the owner mentioned was made by customer request, probably requested by those such as my mother-in-law who remembers uncle so-and-so's homemade Concord grape wine. Too sweet for us, but a fan favorite!
We purchased a couple bottles of wine and each selected a glass to enjoy outside next to the pond on the property.
Sleepy Creek Vineyards hosts several events, bands and were even planning a film festival. We'll have to stop back this fall to sample Little Woody.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Noted

East Peoria's Youssef's Deli has closed.
Veterans Pub & Pizza is open on NE Adams Street in Peoria.

Cummins Drive Thru

Monday I had a lunch quandary. I wanted to run an errand near Grand Prairie in Peoria, but also wanted to grab a quick bite to eat. I knew that McDonald's, Arby's and Hardee's would be quick options, but hadn't really made up my mind yet.
On my way to Home Depot I saw an unexpected answer to my dilemma: Cummins Drive Thru!
After my fruitless Home Depot stop, I pulled into the former Jo's Java site at War Memorial and Route 91 and checked out the drive thru menu.
The menu featured coffee, ice cream, salads, sandwiches, hot dogs (including made from scratch corn dogs) and more, and will feature soup and chili during the colder months.
One thing I noticed on the menu that I haven't been able to get out of my mind is homemade corn fritters, 3  for just $1.95. Knowing that there are fritters available by drive thru is probably not beneficial to my health.
They did have daily special offerings, but I decided to go for the made fresh daily chicken salad sandwich on wheat bread ($5.50) and an iced tea.
Soon I had my order and was back on my way to work. I dove in to the chicken salad en route and found it to be creamy, complete with diced hard boiled eggs and real white meat chicken, all encased in soft wheat bread. Yum! It was a homestyle sandwich like my mom would have made me after a hard day in first grade.
I'm glad to know there is a great quick local lunch option available near Grand Prairie and Willow Knolls.

October, 2010 — Cummins Drive Thru is now Meat-n-Place.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Noted

Hick'ry Stick, a long time Peoria catering company, has opened a restaurant in Peoria near Glen Oak Park. We've enjoyed their barbecue at various Peoria events and look forward to visiting the restaurant.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Noted

Dane's sports bar is now open in Peoria in the former Ned Kelly's/Feldan's location on Brandywine Drive.

Olio & Vino is also open in Peoria Heights at the four way stop on Prospect. The 18-year-old barrel aged balsamic sounds impressive.

Looks like Mel's Café in Peoria has closed their location on NE Adams. Hopefully they have a great new location in the works.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Oriental Palace

My husband wanted to make a stop in Pekin this weekend which gave me the opportunity to suggest lunch at Oriental Palace.
The restaurant features Chinese, Japanese and Thai dishes.
During our lunch visit, the dining room had a clean, simple decor with white plastic covering the white linen tablecloths.
Our waitress seated us right away and went to prepare our drinks while we checked out the menu.
I have had a wide variety of Chinese food and eat sashimi from time-to-time, but my Thai food experience is limited to Pad Thai. The menu was organized into sections, so I focused on the Thai entrées.
I selected the Thai basil beef, $9.50. StfRon chose Mu Shu chicken ($7.75), and we also ordered an appetizer of crab rangoon ($3.95).
Our crab rangoon showed up quickly. It might be the crispiest crab rangoon I've ever had, was filled with a sweet cream cheese mixture, and was very good.
The flavor of my Thai basil beef surprised me, as it tasted quite a bit like fish. Our waitress came to check on us and said that the dish contained dried shrimp and fish sauce, along with the beef and vegetables which included onions, mushrooms and water chestnuts.
My husband enjoyed the Moo Shu, which is one of his latest Chinese favorites.
Service was great, and although we never noticed it, I feel like the servers must have been discreetly watching us or else they have impeccable timing, as they seemed to materialize instantly at all the right times.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Cracked Pepper Catering and Bakery, Inc.

I've been wanting to try Cracked Pepper Catering and Bakery, Inc. in Peoria for lunch for quite some time.The NE Adams location seemed just a bit too far to drive during my workday lunch, and I had not seen them open on weekends.
Once I saw that the new, closer-to-me Main Street location was open, I made plans to meet some friends there, and tried the Caprese panini.
The Main Street spot is a nice location, in the former City News Café/Jane Dough spot. They have taken out the wall of newspaper racks and replaced them with an interesting selection of pepper mills.
This Saturday we decided to drive by Cracked Pepper at NE Adams and if they were open we would stop in, otherwise we were headed to the Ice Cream Shack.
As we neared the bakery, I could see a couple sitting at a table by the window, so we pulled in.
This location also was decorated with a variety of pepper mills and there were a few tall tables inside.
Both locations featured colorful chalkboard menus done with great artistic flair.
This time, I decided to try the "award winning" Italian beef. My husband selected the sweet BBQ pork sandwich.
I was asked if I wanted mozzarella and Giardiniera on my sandwich. I passed on the cheese but went for the relish.
During the brief wait for our sandwiches, I noticed that the bakery case featured a couple of bacon logs, which I have heard about both from my friend J who has enjoyed a few of them, and in the newspaper.
My Italian beef was quite good, the Giardiniera not nuclear, so it didn't overwhelm the beef and the bread it was nestled in was outstanding. My husband also commented on the bread his BBQ pork came on.
The pork tasted smoked, and when I sampled it I really enjoyed the juicy bite. I would order either of those sandwiches again.
To cap off our meal, we figured we'd better try the bacon log, a long john-style donut slathered with rich maple icing, crowned with a slice of thick-cut bacon coated in brown sugar.
This picture oddly makes it look a bit like the heavens were shining down upon the delectable donut.
We split the luscious log and it was a delight, the pastry fluffy and fresh, the icing creamy with a good maple flavor and the bacon hearty yet sweet.
In addition to more tempting pastries, Cracked Pepper also offers salads, more sandwiches including some breakfast varieties, and a wrap or two. You can upgrade to a boxed lunch for a bit more, which adds a side and a cookie.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Noted

It looks like the tapas restaurant Noir in Peoria Heights may have had their soft opening. I happened to walk by tonight and there was music with a nice Latin flair being piped onto the front patio, lanterns on the tables and a menu on a podium on the sidewalk.
If we had known earlier, we probably would have checked it out. We have made a note and will be by soon to give it a try.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Billy's Phillys

Saturday we decided to try Billy's Phillys which opened last fall on Farmington Road in Peoria.
The small building is adorned with a fun vintage star sign. Inside we found a combo of six tables and booths, bright white walls and red, white a blue decor adorning the walls.
We stepped up to the counter to read the menu and place our order.
My husband chose the original (ribeye steak, grilled onions and Cheez Whiz) and I opted for a cheese steak with sliced provolone. Including a bottle of water, our total was just over $17.
We took a seat at one of the booths and soon our foil wrapped sandwiches were delivered in a plastic bag.
We unwrapped them and dug in. The cheese was layered on the bottom of the bun, then onions, then a pile of thinly sliced ribeye, and the sandwiches were piping hot. The meat and onions had made quick work of melting the provolone and the steak, seemingly unseasoned, was good quality. We heard a lady talking to another table of customers mention that they get the buns from Philadelphia, which added a nice touch.
I sampled my husband's Cheez Whiz philly, which he enjoyed, but I preferred the provolone version.
We also found a foil wrapped set of pickle spears in the bag, which I noshed on after the sandwiches were gone.
The man who took our order, mostly likely also cooked it and brought it out to us asked us a few times how everything was and if we needed anything else.
As we headed out the door, a group of six filed in, ready to enjoy a quality meal from Billy's Phillys.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Noted

I noticed the work going on at Diana's Family Restaurant in East Peoria recently, and yesterday I heard that the restaurant had closed and been sold. It will be turned into a sports bar and will open later this year.
I hope they keep the retro "Eat" sign on top of the building.

Also in East Peoria, the Burger Barge's Tiki Barge opens tonight. We've been seeing the banners for this for a long time, so it will be interesting to see how it turns out.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Beningo's Restaurant

I've been remiss in not writing about a great meal we had a few months ago at Beningo's Restaurant in Bloomington.
My husband was looking for something different to do as we were in a little bit of a rut, ran across Beningo's on the web and noticed a picture of a nice looking pizza pie on their website, so he suggested we try the place and made a reservation.
The restaurant is located in a nondescript brick building.
On the phone, my husband had been asked if we wanted upstairs or down. He mentioned we had not been there before and the hostess said we wanted upstairs then.
We were taken to our table in the 1960s style dining room.
I looked over the menu which had a lot of pasta offerings, but with pizza being what made my husband pick the place I decided we needed to try it.
We went with one of their pre-arranged topping pies, the Sicilian, topped with sausage, tomatoes and hot peppers.
There was a cracker basket on the table and we munched on those a bit while we took in the atmosphere and waited for our food.
After looking around at some of the other diners it occurred to me that they served alcohol, which I hadn't realized when ordering.
We noticed some people showing up were leaving, apparently feeling that the wait for a table was too long or being told that there was no room.
We decided to see what we were missing in the basement so we headed down the stairs.
We were blown away by the decor! It reminded me of the early 1970s basement of my mom's friend's house when I was growing up, complete with vintage carpet. We decided it would be a blast to eat down there some time.
Back at our upstairs table the pizza soon arrived. It was wonderful! The pie took me back to the way pizza tasted as a kid at family-owned restaurants. The cheese (which I am picky about) and the sausage (which I am normally not a big fan of) were great.
With a pie like that paired with good service and great atmosphere, now that we've found Beningo's, we'll certainly be back.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Round up

We hit the Peoria RiverFront Market this past weekend and came away with some eggs, blueberries and grass fed hamburger patties.

I enjoyed some hummus, sourdough bread and an everything cookie from Goodness Café in Peoria.

We took in another movie at Peoria Theater, after which it occurred to me what a value it is. The show tickets were $6 and I noticed they have a 7" pizza and soda combo for $5. A glass of wine is $4 and domestic beers are $2.50.
Great ticket prices, great concession prices AND an interesting movie selection.

We enjoyed lunch at Emo's in Peoria while watching road construction crews working on a Saturday afternoon. I still have not encountered a better specimen of cheese fries in the last 10 years or so.
We also took a look at a timeline of sorts they have posted on the side of the building. Oddly neither my husband nor I remember Emo's being torn down and rebuilt in the 1980s.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Noted

I hear that the former Ned Kelly's/Feldan's location in Peoria will have a new occupant some time next month.

The restaurant 309 opens tomorrow in Peoria Heights. I am looking forward to trying the artisan cheeses and the local meats and produce.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Peoria Theater

The movie we chose to see on our first visit may not have lived up to my expectations, but the Peoria Theater was a nice change from the same old.
The theater, which uses a couple of the screens in Peoria's Landmark cinema building, shows some different and independent films compared to what the megaplex theaters showcase.
You have the option of enjoying beer, wine or even Jager bombs during your movie, and if you're lucky you might score a seat on one of the plush couches located behind the traditional theater seating.
Peoria Theater also hosts events in conjunction with some of their showings, and will host private parties.
Sitting waiting for our feature to start, I couldn't help but think what a neat thing the Peoria Theater is and was a bit sorry that I hadn't thought of it first and had the entrepreneurial spirit to see it through.

Noted

This week I noticed that a olive oil/vinegar/wine sampling shop will soon be open on Prospect in Peoria Heights. We have visited stores like this on our travels and are looking forward to checking it out.

I also spotted a new sign at the former Velvet Freeze in East Peoria. The sign said simply "The Original" Wonderdog, and there was also a grand opening banner on one of the windows. People were already inside enjoying the fare.
We were on our way to lunch somewhere, but will keep this in mind.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Bullpen Sports Bar & Grill

After the closure of the off track betting parlor at Landmark in Peoria, the Bullpen Sports Bar & Grill took over the space.
I met my husband for lunch there a couple of weeks ago, and found a few of the tall tables in the dining area were already occupied.
Looking over the menu our waitress promptly delivered, I noticed they had a hand battered Buffalo chicken sandwich ($6.25), so I decided to try that.
Besides chicken the sandwich selections also include a hand cut tenderloin, a fish sandwich, a turkey wrap, a hot dog and a sub, an Italian beef, a prime rib and Philly beef steak. They serve wings, some nice sounding salads including a Caribbean version, pizza and 1/3 pound burgers. All sandwiches come with home made chips.
After ordering, I took notice of all the 50" flat screen TVs lining the room near the ceiling. All the better for those sports fans.
Video games were scattered throughout the sports bar.
There was also a second room with more intimately arranged tables and smaller TV screens that may become an Internet café in the future.
Our food arrived in good time. My chicken breast was juicy, and rather than being doused in the standard tabasco sauce, this bird was packing some heat! The sauce had quite a kick to it, and I noticed some pepper flakes on it as well. The sandwich left a satisfying burn on my tongue long after it was gone.
The home made chips were an nice accompaniment to my meal.
The Bullpen serves lunch seven days a week, is open until 2 a.m. Thursday-Saturday and features food specials several days a week.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Fox Pub and Café

A couple of months ago we stopped by The Fox Pub and Café for a drink and checked out the menu, after my dad mentioned he had eaten at the Peoria pub a few times.
The Fox is hidden a bit off the beaten path, in the strip mall on N. Sommer Street next to the former K's Merchandise.
The decor was comfortable, kind of like what I would want my home library to look like with dark wood furniture and rich colors, but of course I would want brown leather chairs instead of tapestry dining chairs. There were a few beer mirrors and other things hung about, but nothing overdone.
Reading the menu, the Ploughman's Cheese Board caught my attention. Paired with one of my favorites, a Rodney Strong Cabernet, which they had by the glass, this could be quite a treat.
The Duke of Wellington also sounded good, a slow roasted beef brisket sandwich with cheddar and a horseradish sauce.
A customer stopped by the bar and asked if the salsa was homemade, to which the bartender said yes. She then proceeded to rave about how good the salsa was.
After finishing our drinks, we headed out, agreeing to come back soon.
We visited The Fox again a couple of weeks ago to sample the fare.
I opted for the Wellington ($7.95) and StfRon selected Ye Olde Fish and Chips ($8.95), deciding to go with the pub sauce for his chips.
Our "Dining Companion" and her husband soon joined us and ordered chili cheese fries, a side of homemade cole slaw and a burger.
The food arrived shortly. The tender brisket indeed tasted slow roasted, with a liquid smoke flavor. The cheddar melted on top was real cheese, none of that pasteurized processed food product. The Fox fries turned out to be skinny fries, hand cut and cooked to a lovely crispiness.
The fish my husband had was meaty and mild, nicely battered and the tangy pub sauce made a nice accompaniment to the chips.
The menu also features appetizers, wraps, salads and more and they provide live entertainment every Wednesday and Saturday night.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Local produce

We hit the long-awaited farm market yesterday morning at the Methodist Atrium. By the time we arrived, all the veggies were gone save for some herb plants, and Organic Pastures had a small amount of meat left. We picked up a pasture-raised beef roast, and look forward to trying it this week.
I'm glad to see there was such a great response and plan to get there earlier next month!

Speaking of garden plants, I didn't buy any at the market as I had already bought mine and planted them a week or two ago. Our local greenhouse, Washington Greenhouse, grows the plants themselves each winter. So far we bought oregano, peppers, rosemary, eggplant, cabbage and are growing carrots and leeks from seed.
We also asked them about red onions, which I thought would be nice to try this year, but they said they don't grow them anymore because they weren't a popular purchase, and most got thrown away.

The Riverfront Market in Peoria will start back up in June, and the Metro Centre market begins in May.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Bone Appitit

Enjoy my husband StfRon's review of Bone Appitit, as I've been a bit swamped ;-). — Peoria Peepers

A somewhat unfortunate name, Bone Appitit...the last part of the name brings memories of Beavis and Butthead.
Bone Appitit is the new BBQ joint just east of the square in Washington. We had heard rumor of a possible rib joint over a year ago, and it came to fruition this month.

Stickers placed on the window last year indicated breakfast would be available, but the hours changed and the breakfast part of the menu had a large ink "x" over it. Chicken, a huge favorite of my wife, was also sadly not available.

No worries for me though, this rib joint had RIBS. I chose the six rib meal with two sides ($7.50) and the wife chose the three rib meal with two sides ($6.50). We both opted for slaw and baked beans as sides, and a cornbread muffin came with, too.

As BB King wailed in the background, our meals were shortly presented. The ribs had a nice distinguishable smoke ring and a light hickory flavor. Dry ribs were not on the menu, so I ordered the "Sweet & Spicy" while my wife got the "Sweet and Tangy"

I must say, the spicy ribs had a very nice kick, and were presented with Jalapeno slices on top ( a nice touch I've never seen before on ribs) but my favorite was my wife's "tangy" ribs. The rib end pieces were a little dry, but I think the cook knew because my six rib combo had eight ribs, and my wife had five ribs in her three rib meal.

Overall the BBQ was decent and the prices reasonable. Hopefully a liquor license is in their future as tasty beer would have been nice.

July 2012— Bone Appitit is closed.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Round up

My recent local outings have taken me to Mi Familia (Peoria) for tacos; Leaves-n-Beans (Peoria Heights) for a lunch wrap and an iced cap; Apple's Bakery (Peoria) for chicken salad sandwiches and coffee; Super Liquors (Peoria) where I scored some decent sale wine; Heading Om (West Peoria) for some much needed yoga; Maria's (Washington) for dinner and dessert; the C-Note (Washington) for a glass of wine and Washington Greenhouse for some spring plants.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Sherman's

At long last, our house is graced with a new couch.
Pretty sure it would not qualify as a davenport though, which is one of those words Grandma always used.
Thanks to my readers, I got several good local furniture store ideas. The couch we decided to go with came from Sherman's in Peoria.
We visited Sherman's in early March. Willie, the gentleman who approached us, was very helpful, friendly and gave us no pressure. He had all the right answers at hand about where the couch was made (in the US, of course) and gave us print outs and final quotes on two couches we were considering.
We then went to a big box store where the salesman didn't seem to be listening to what we were saying we wanted and couldn't give us answers about where their couches were made, nor did he offer to go find out for us.
We were back at Sherman's later that day and made our fabric selection for both couch and pillows, paid and arranged delivery for a Sunday.
We ended up not choosing leather as our fabric, even though it was available. It didn't quite fit the look of this couch.
Plus, my friend D mentioned that leather is cold to sit on, which is one thing I hadn't considered, having never owned one before.
After she said that, I had visions of summer when you sit in a vinyl restaurant booth with shorts on, then feel like you left half the skin from your legs on the booth when you get up. Yikes!
Last Sunday, the appointed delivery day, we heard the delivery truck pull up outside and within 10 minutes our new couch was right at home in our living room.
Everyone we dealt with from Sherman's was friendly and helpful, and so far we're pleased with our purchase.
My only regret is that Grandma isn't around to give it a try.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Noted

I have known for about a month that Harold's Hamburgers in Washington is closing, but forgot all about posting about it until one of my readers sent me a message regarding them closing, which will happen this week.
We were hoping it wasn't true, but about a week and a half ago we stopped in for lunch (burgers and fries for my husband and a cherry pie for me) and talked to our cashier who confirmed it, and we noticed that some of the pictures and things in the restaurant were for sale.
My husband remembers the place from the Mr. Quick days, but I just enjoyed it for the nostalgia, friendly employees and some good eats. I will be sad to see them go.

The Ice Cream Shack in Peoria opens for the season this Friday.

Speaking of ice cream, Emo's will open for the season April 1. This could be the last season of Emo's as we know it, as the Peoria restaurant is for sale.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Last Chance Bar & Grill

On a recent Sunday we decided to try out the breakfast at Last Chance Bar & Grill in Peoria.
We found the main dining room and the one to the left to be full, so we headed to the room to the right, where there were some pool tables and dart boards.
We were soon joined by our "Dining Companion" and her husband, and were advised by our waitress that a large group was on their way, so we got our orders in quickly.
StfRon and I each ordered biscuits and gravy plus a side of corned beef hash and our companions ordered selections off the breakfast skillet menu.
The food was tasty and hot and service was friendly and prompt.
Can't wait until we pick up our new bikes and plan a breakfast and ride outing on the adjacent Rock Island Trail!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

June Restaurant


We dined at June Restaurant in Peoria Heights recently, a restaurant which has received much praise from both local media and the Wall Street Journal.
We arrived early, about 5:45 on a weeknight and were able to get a table without a wait.
Our dining experience took about two hours, and by the time we left business had picked up quite a bit.
The decor at June was simple and contemporary in style with soothing colors, concrete floors and nature-inspired artwork.
Even the table settings were simple, yet elegant.
Our server was knowledgeable about the wine list, the menu items and the food preparation methods, which include Sous-vide, slow cooking under pressure in a heated water bath.
The ingredients for many of the menu items are from local farms, which I think is great. Not only are local ingredients likely to be fresher, the support of local farms helps them prosper, which in turn can make these items more readily available.
We selected a bottle of Albak Tempranillo wine and sampled that while still pondering our dinner choices.
We were also served some of the breads baked in house daily, a ciabatta bread and a black olive bread.
After hearing from our server about the farm fresh egg on the first course menu, we decided to share that prior to dinner.
He described the egg as being cooked for about an hour and a half, placed on homemade brioche and topped with fresh herbs, hollandaise, bacon and shiitake mushrooms smoked with espresso beans.
The egg was extremely soft and fresh tasting, the brioche nicely crisped and the bacon had a good smoky flavor. The espresso smoke flavor of the shiitakes was a bit strong for our tastes.
We selected our dinner entrées, Branzino (sea bass) for me and a New York strip for my husband, and were not planning on having a second course item until the waiter mentioned a mozzarella salad, which we agreed to share. I don't recall the entire description of the dish, but the description of the cheese was very appealing, especially to us cheese lovers, and the dish had sunchokes, which we had to have a refresher on.
When this dish arrived we found the cheese to be wonderfully creamy and smooth, the plate sprinkled with fresh herbs and balsamic. The dish also included a caramelized onion garnish bursting with flavor. The sunchokes were prepared chip style and scattered throughout.
The kitchen at June is open to the main dining room, and most tables have a clear view of everything going on there. This also allowed us to experience several of the tantalizing scents the food preparation was generating.
Once our entrées arrived, we found that every element of them was notable, and we ended up passing our forks back and forth across the table so each could experience everything.
My Branzino had an amazing meaty yet tender texture, the thinly-sliced chorizo and sauce served with it was wonderful and the chickpea spaetzle was great.
My husband's New York strip (aged 45 days) had such a buttery texture it almost melted in your mouth and could easily be cut with a fork, topped with a smoky au jus and served with a seasoned potato puree, accompanied by carrots and other root vegetables.
Throughout our meal our server would stop by and top off our wine glasses without being intrusive, checking to see how everything was.
The food portions were reasonable enough that we could eat every last morsel and still consider dessert without being miserable.
After hearing the dessert offerings from another member of the team who was taking care of us, I selected the dark chocolate pot de creme which was described as having some heat to it, if I recall correctly it was ancho pepper, and was topped with a smoked cherry mascarpone.
StfRon opted for the peanut butter cake with brown butter paired with homemade caramelcorn ice cream.
He especially enjoyed the caramelcorn ice cream.
My pot de creme started out very good, and first seemed rich and almost fudge like, the cherry mascarpone subtly flavored. By the time I was done, I was loving and raving about the spiciness, and the texture of the creme reminded me of a ganache. I drove home with the heat from the peppers still lingering on my palate, recalling a wonderful meal.
Our bill came to $178 pre-tip.
Would I do it again? Absolutely. We haven't had a dining experience anywhere near this caliber in close to two years, and even before that it was few and far between.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Midway Duck Inn

On our way to Lacon a few months back, we drove past the Midway Duck Inn in Lowpoint. I made a mental note to make plans to dine there, and this month we did.
My husband and I arrived at the cabin-style restaurant about 15 minutes earlier than scheduled to meet my parents, so we took some seats at the bar after being greeted by a lady who was seating people in the dining room. We told her we'd be back for a table in a little bit.
StfRon ordered a beer and I decided to go for a margarita, which turned out to be very good.
The bartender, who was a young lady, and the rest of the bar patrons were friendly. This was not one of those places where everything falls silent and everyone turns to stare when "outsiders" walk in.
We checked out the menu while we waited and noticed duck tenders and frogs legs among some of the notable items, plus tenderloins, catfish and a selection of burgers. We also overheard that one of the day's specials, the hot beef, was sold out.
Most of the dinners were around $7-$9, with catfish priced at $11.95.
My parents arrived a while later and we headed to the dining room, taking a seat by the windows. If we had taken our seat about 15 minutes earlier, we would have had a great view of the sunset.
The tidy dining room was paneled in horizontal car siding-type wood, stained in a nice lodge look, with some hunting decor throughout.
I had heard that one of their specialties was pan fried chicken, so that's what I ordered when our friendly waitress took our order. Actually, everyone at the table ordered the same, some the 1/2 chicken, some 1/4, some all white and some mixed.
For sides we got salads, bread and potato, mine was baked and everyone else sprung for the au gratin version, plus a racquetball-sized corn fritter for each of us.
The breading on the chicken was nicely seasoned and crispy, the au gratins were good and the corn fritter was positively covered in powdered sugar, the outside crispiness giving way to the soft corn goodness inside.
My dad, who probably somewhat grudgingly came along, was appreciative of the decor and enjoyed his meal, eating practically every last morsel. He also commented that he could go for some more fritters, and I pointed out that he could place an order for $3.95.
During our time at the Midway Duck Inn, I had noticed the bartender took the time to say goodbye to each group as they left and thank them for coming in. We were no exception.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Round up

Willett's Winery and Cellar will open their restaurant, The Ironstone Room, 101 East Market Street in Manito, today. There are several items on the menu I would like to try. Check it out here. The hours are also posted on that page.

This weekend catch comedian Danny Storts March 12 and 13 at Mason City Limits in Mason City. Tickets are $12.50.

The Hyacinth in Peoria's Metro Center will hold a spring open house March 12 and 13.

A session on leafless tree identification will be held March 13 at 10 a.m. at Peoria's Forest Park Nature Center. This event is free, but donations are appreciated.

The Bogside Zukes will perform March 14 at Kelleher's Irish Pub & Eatery in Peoria from 2-6 p.m.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Connected

My husband said he was in the mood for something new Saturday night, so I suggested Connected, the restaurant which opened in the former Po-Boys spot in Peoria.
Tucked away next to Wal-Mart and the bingo hall on N. Dries Lane, from the outside we weren't sure they were open, but saw the hours posted (it was close to 5:30 p.m.) so we headed inside.
We were greeted by a young lady smartly dressed in formal black and white, a white cloth draped over her arm, who led us to our table in the elegant dining room accented with strands of white lights. She informed us that she, along with another gentleman, would be taking care of us, then placed cloth napkins on our laps.
She offered us sparkling, still or tap water, then told us about some drink specials which included a pear martini. It sounded great to me, but I asked to see the wine list instead.
We selected a bottle of Mountain View, a Cabernet, I think, which was priced around $25.
We decided instead of salads (which are not included with meals, although some meals include a side of polenta or other accompaniment) to try the mozzarella Caprese appetizer. We placed our order for that and soon our waitresses' partner brought us a basket of crusty bread and a spread which he said was made of pureed eggplant, dill and lemon. It had the consistency of hummus and actually tasted somewhat similar, and was very good.
The mozzarella Caprese complimented our wine, which at first had seemed too light for our taste, nicely. The balsamic on the appetizer was wonderful, and the basil tasted very fresh.
My husband ordered the Pollo Al Quattro Fromaggi, and I ordered an eggplant entree with four cheeses as well.
The combination of the four cheeses on each dish was great, and the tomato sauce was robust and very fresh tasting. Both dishes were also quite large, and we each ended up eating about 1/3 and asking to have the rest packaged to take home. The leftovers were delivered to our table a while later in a convenient brown handle bag.
We noticed the couple next to us ordered creme brulée for dessert, which was doused with liquor tableside and lit afire.
We asked about the desserts, and our waitress also mentioned a tiramisu and canolli. I discounted the tiramisu right off the bat, so used to central Illinois and their frozen institutional desserts. It occurred to me several minutes later that Connected probably makes their own.
We selected a cannoli instead and it was wonderful. My husband said he thinks it was the best one he's ever had.
Throughout our meal, we noticed the chef greeting some diners from time to time, but did not have a chance to speak to him.
By the time we were getting ready to leave, sometime after 7 p.m., there were only two tables available, which had not been open very long.
Once we were finished, our bill was brought and placed near my husband while I was presented with a yellow rose.
The bill, with appetizer, wine, two entrées and a shared dessert, came to $68 before tip.
We headed for the exit and passed a couple of servers standing at a podium near the dining room door. Just as we were reaching out to push the door open, our waitress dashed up to open the door for us and thanked us for coming.
A nice finishing touch to a nice evening.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Saving on fresh baked goodness

If you're a fan of Peoria's Apple's Bakery, you should check out the You Gotta Save deal, a $50 gift certificate for only $25 (plus a couple of dollars shipping and handling).
I've been dreaming of trying their chocolate bourbon pecan pie for years, so I hope to get one of those, some lunch, and maybe some goodies for a party.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Furniture shopping

We've been in the market for a new couch for a few months now.
In the past, I bought the majority of my furniture from Cohen's, who closed their stores a few years back.
I've decided that brown leather would be nice, sort of a club sofa, such as the one pictured here.
The other criteria? Made in USA. Oh, and it has to have a tight back. No poufy cushions.
We've been to Lippmann's and Illinois Furniture in Peoria, Baurer Furniture in Washington (before they closed), Faulk's Furniture in El Paso, StfRon stopped somewhere in Pekin and looked, and we've been to Melgreen's.
We have even checked a few chain places to see what's out there. StfRon called American a couple of weeks ago as they have an OK couch and they sent a flyer to our house about a sale. He called to check the price on that couch to see if we wanted to drive all the way out there, and they said "we don't give prices over the phone." Yet another reason to keep trying the locally-owned places.
We've been trying to get to Martin Furniture in East Peoria, but keep forgetting they are closed on Sundays.
And we need to try Sherman's and maybe trek out to Good's in Kewanee.
If you know of a good locally-owned furniture store I haven't thought of, please let me know!

Round up

Last weekend we braved the Swing at CAC dance lessons at the Contemporary Art Center in Peoria and had a good time.

I've been laying low for lunch, but have enjoyed a couple of outings including The Goodness Café, Ming Shee and One World in Peoria.

Last week we attended a dinner meeting at the newest Avanti's in Peoria, 8517 N. Knoxville. I got to try their bruschetta for the first time, which was pretty good, and enjoyed copious amounts of food at a reasonable price.

We bought some grass fed ground beef patties from Eureka Locker via Naturally Yours in Peoria. My husband grilled them up for dinner and they made great burgers. He commented on how it was the first time since he was a kid that he's had ground beef that tasted and smelled like that, and I had to agree. The smell of the patties cooking reminded me of when I was young and Mom was grilling up ground beef for tacos or spaghetti.
We also bought some of the Eureka Locker grass fed steaks which we plan to try tomorrow night.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Noted

The Kaiserhof restaurant in Peoria has closed.

Noted

Moon Dancer in Peoria Heights has closed. I have a feeling they may be moving to a different location in Peoria, but haven't heard the final news yet. They are now located at the Shoppes at Grand Prairie in Peoria.
Apache Junction next door to the former Moon Dancer is also closed.
Sullivan's, also in Peoria Heights, has been sold and is currently closed for some changes by the new owners, who will change the pub's name.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Noted

Fred's Shoe Repair will soon be open at the intersection of Forest Hill and University in Peoria.

Goodness Café in Peoria is now serving breakfast.

Wildlife Prairie Park opens for the season this weekend with a free admission open house February 28 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

The Ice Cream Shack in Sunnyland will open for the season February 26.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

PV II Restaurant

We enjoyed dinner at Ponté Vecchio many times and felt a loss when they closed their location in Peoria's Sheridan Village.
A few months ago I was glad to hear that a chef from Ponté Vecchio was planning to open a restaurant, along with his wife, in the former Chiliworks site on Allen Road in Peoria and feature some of the same recipes.
This week I met my mom at the new PV II Restaurant for lunch.
We arrived at noon and were greeted right away and taken to a table in the busy dining room.
The room was pretty full, and the noises from those visiting and dining were bouncing off the high ceilings, much different than the quiet atmosphere of Ponté Vecchio, yet nice in its own way.
The decor seemed similar to what it was like when Chiliworks occupied the space, but it works for this restaurant also.
The lunch menu included pasta, salads, soups and sandwiches. The salads were also available in half portions, which was nice on the pocketbook and the belly.
I also noticed a table tent advertising Thursdays as half price bottle night, so there are wine bargains to be had as well.
Our waiter brought waters and took our drink order right off the bat.
I decided to try the half portion of chicken pear salad with parmesan dressing and a cup of a spinach egg soup made with parmesan dumplings. This soup and salad combo was priced at $9, or the half salad alone was $4.
The waiter brought us a basket of bread and then stopped by and told us that the food for a party of 20 was just coming up in the kitchen, and that ours would be out right after. He was quite apologetic.
The bread was perfectly warmed, dense and moist inside with a nice crisp crust.
Lunch did take a bit longer than would have been comfortable to arrive, but with all of the communication throughout by our waiter, we were relaxed and aware of what was going on.
The dressing on my salad was subtle but good, the pear crisp and the chicken breast nicely seasoned.
I especially enjoyed the parmesan dumplings in the broth-based soup. Heck, if they offered a plate of those dumplings as an appetizer, I would be all over them.
I heard a couple nearby compliment the waiter on everything, and I would have to agree. Service was great, the food was great and the prices were reasonable.
I look forward to trying dinner at PV II.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Adding another chill to this dreary winter...

is the news that Velvet Freeze has closed their last two locations.
After more than 60 years in the business, this is very depressing.
According to this Journal Star article:
"The restaurant chain opened in 1938, and at its height, there were 90 locations from Chicago to St. Louis, Thomas said. The Peoria-area Velvet Freezes added Wonder dogs to their menus in the 1950s."
I'm glad we visited in December so my husband could have one last Wonder dog fix.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Goodness Café

This is the time of year when I often find myself in a rut.
I am indecisive about what to do for lunch, and most times will just eat something quick, and lame, at my desk.
Today I told myself I was going to venture out and try the Goodness Café on NE Monroe in Peoria.
I found a parking spot right out front of the restaurant, which is attached to Peoria Bread Company.
Once inside I stepped up to the counter and perused the selections posted on the chalk boards. I noticed a menu posted on the counter top which described the sandwiches in more detail.
I selected the Fresh Veggie, which is listed as homemade hummus on whole wheat bread (organic) with lettuce, tomato, onions, sprouts, olives, cucumber and sunflower seeds.
The friendly young lady taking my order told me that there was a wait on hummus, and offered me a cream cheese spread or cheese instead. I opted for the cream cheese, and booked my meal as a combo, adding a cup of a homemade reuben soup.
I ordered a bottle of iced tea, which you pick up from a cooler in the dining room and the total came to $9.35.
I paid and found a seat in the dining room.
While waiting, I admired the soft green painted plank ceiling and fun three-dimensional art in the dining room.
The tables and chairs were a mishmash of style, giving a nice eclectic look to the room, and there were several brightly-colored paintings throughout the room.
Before long a lady delivered my order to my table.
I sampled the soup first and found it brimming with sauerkraut and carrots, flavorful in a rich broth.
My sandwich was piled high with veggie goodness and the sunflower seeds added nice texture to each bite.
Before leaving I figured I should sample the cookies and made a stop back at the cookie counter before heading out.
The menu also features several hot sandwiches, a few cold sandwiches and homemade soups each day. A bowl of soup comes with one free refill.
The Goodness Café was a nice bright spot in the midst of my dreary winter.

February 22, 2010 — The Goodness Café is now offering breakfast.
October, 2010 — The Goodness Café has closed.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Noted

Harms Florist will soon be moving in to the Oberlander building located at the intersection of McClure and University streets in Peoria.
I spent several years living on the second floor of the Oberlander building and remember it fondly. The apartments have high ceilings, tall windows, fireplaces and very thick walls.
I'm glad to see a nice building put to new use.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Fieldhouse

In the later part of 2009, Peoria's Campustown became home to The Fieldhouse.Located in the former Gorman's spot, The Fieldhouse has an updated, clean sportsbar atmosphere.
I've sampled three of their sandwiches so far: a buffalo burger topped with swiss ($7.95 + 49 cents for cheese), a buffalo chicken sandwich ($6.95) and the UAB, a burger topped with bacon and peanut butter for $6.95. Each sandwich was served with Poore Brothers chips, twice the salt and pepper variety and once plain.
All of the sandwiches were good. The burgers are 1/3 pounders and the peanut butter was almost lost on the big burger, but added a nice touch.
Each time my waitress has been cheerful and efficient, and lunch has been able to be enjoyed with plenty of time to get back to work without rushing.
The Fieldhouse also offers several appetizers, a tuna steak sandwich, pizzas, salads and a couple of vegetarian options, plus a full bar for those after work gatherings or fun before or after the game.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Round up

Recently I've visited Ming Shee and The Fieldhouse in Peoria for lunches.

We had dinner at Palanza's Family Dining in Washington, which we haven't visited in years.
StfRon commented on how good the pizza was, and I was raving about the cheese, both on the pizza and in the shaker. This was none of that tasteless dry powder. I was intrigued by the offerings of fried chicken and steaks, but I don't know if I'll be able to skip the pizza to try them out.

Last Sunday we struck out a couple of times in Peoria: first in trying to call Rosie's BBQ & Grill to see if they were open (no answer) and then in trying to visit Naturally Yours to look at organic, free-range and grass fed meat options.

We ended up trying lunch at Leaves 'N Beans in Peoria Heights. I had a veggie wrap filled with tomato, green pepper, spinach and some mouth-watering hummus. This was no "burrito as big as your head" for which I was thankful.
My husband had a panini with turkey and bacon, also topped with spinach served with a small side of chips.
We paired our meal with a cup of praline coffee and an Americano.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Grab bag

Looking for a laugh this weekend?
Mason City Limits hosts comedian Craig Hawksley January 8 at 8 p.m. and January 9 at 7:15 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.
The Jukebox Comedy Club features Lord Carrett January 8 and 9 at 8 p.m. or 10:30 p.m.

The Peoria Rivermen take on the Toronto Marlies tonight at 7 p.m. at the Peoria Civic Center.

Forest Park Nature Center hosts Eagles Day, a presentation and tours to view Bald Eagles along the river from 10 a.m.-noon on Saturday.

Firehouse Pizza is now open in East Peoria. Starting at 10 a.m. January 12 you can pick up discount gift certificates here.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Brown's Fine Food

Last weekend we set out for points west to visit a restaurant my husband has been wanting to try for about a year. Alas, our food choices were not to be had when we got there, so we hit the road again and kept our eyes peeled for another option.
We drove into Canton and soon a retro sign caught the attention of both of us at almost the same instant: Brown's Snappy Service.
I love spotting old signs, and it's even better when the business still exists and lives up to the legacy.
A lucky break! Brown's Fine Food was open so we walked in and found the place comfortably worn around the edges, with about a dozen stools mounted in front of the white, gold-flecked countertop.
Tables lined the wall behind, stretching back into a narrow back room.
We took seats at the counter to better check out the old equipment and decor, and looked over the menu while our server went to get us some iced teas.
Entrées were reasonable: chicken fried steak for $5.75, two smoked pork chops for $6.75, fried chicken for $6, all served with two sides plus bread a butter. Sandwiches started at $1.70 for the sandwich alone and $3.20 for a platter.
StfRon asked the gent serving us if the hamburgers were frozen, and he said no. Then he asked if they were thin patties, and found out they were. Our server added that they are very good, so that was enough for us.
I ordered a cheeseburger platter and StfRon ordered a bacon cheeseburger platter. Both came with fries and cole slaw.
Our food came out quickly, the burgers tasty as promised, complete with crispy edges, creamy cheese and soft buns.
The fries were a similar cut to McDonald's fries, but I enjoyed their crispness and taste much more than any Mickey D's fries I've had in the last decade.
The slaw was a creamy style, and the portion was pretty generous.
Brown's has been providing snappy service since 1937, and the original building is still intact. There have been some additions over the years, but I had taken notice of the ceiling over the grill area while waiting for my food before I knew about the add ons and you can still
imagine what the little place must have been like in its heyday.
Mounted to a post next to the old host stand area there is a neat photo of the original building.
I'm glad the sign caught our attention.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Say it ain't so, Big O

We drove by today to confirm, and Big O's BBQ in Peoria was closed.
We also struck out on our next BBQ stop, but found some good cheap eats in the end.