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


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


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.