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.