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.