I just got in from my first three days on the road doing pre-employment backgrounds and found a few good spots that I will report. They might be limited due to my rush to "dine & dash" in order to get my work done. Night # 1 found me landing kind of late in Quincy. I spent about an hour and a half trying to network my laptop back to the workplace and said the heck with it. I asked the hotel clerk for somewhere close to get a brew and a good bite and she directed me to Applebees and some other chain. I told her..."read my lips...I need good company and good food." Once we got the formalities out of the way, she directed me to Kelly's which is an Irish Bar located around the 3000 block of Broadway, approx 1 mile east of the interstate. I walked in and was surrounded by a slightly older crowd and found a seat at the bar. Rene' the lovely French bartender poured the first of a number of fine cocktails and then I was immediately verbally assaulted by a local patron who it turned out to a regular and was indeed a fine fella. After a few introductions, I was warmly entertained and felt very comfortable. I only had one app which was the fried mushrooms w/ a horseradish dipping sauce. There were no less that 6 of them and they averaged at least 3" across. Great crackly batter and tangy sauce. I would recommend this as a family place and definitely a good place for a busines lunch or after work apertiff.
The next day, I had to give the old 12th St Maid Rite a try. After the first "Super Cheese", I decided that we better get with it and had another, some fried cauliflower, a chocolate shake and finally a miniature pork fritter. Overall, I'm not too fond of the loose meat idea but I give them a thumbs up for service and the shake!
That eve found me taking my WIU based daughter to the Jackson Street Bar & grill in Macomb. Typical bar food at reasonable prices although the daily specials looked preety good as well. The service was quite good. We settled for a buffalo shrimp appetizer that was about $4. The shrimp were nice sized and we got approx. 20 or so. The dipping sauce was regular old cocktail sauce and could made the dish A#1 had it been a remoulade or similar but I may be too picky. We ended up ordering a ponyshoe and a horsehoe for both of us based on pork tenderloin foundations. The waiter suggested sauteed onions and mushrooms as a topper which was a new twist for me. We decided to go for it and I'll tell ya, it really dressed up the mountain of carbs. I would rate it as probably the best 'shoe I ever had and I'm am really fond of those offered at the Red Coach Inn in Springfield so you know how I'm comparing here. Two Blue Moon ales w/ prrerequisite orange slices and couple of sodas for the young one brought our tab to $24 and we didn't come near finishing all the food.
The next eve found us at Magnolias Restaurant located just off the square in Macomb at the suggestions of my friends. Proprietor and host Lisa greeted us with an unparalled wit and vivacious energy backed with a southern gentility of one from Alabama. We were immediately made to feel right at home like old friends. Our waitress who I believe was named Christine was bright, polite, and quite knowledgeable of the featured items and specials. I always like servers that have eaten the menu items and know how to describe the offerings. We started w/ a combination bruschetta that had two different tomato toppings being sun dried and vine ripened. Although the serving sizes were somewhat small, they certainly made up for it w/ big flavor. Bread was offered and acompanied by a herb infused EV olive oil with just a hint of balsalmic vineegar. My daughter had chicken Vesuvio based upon the Chicago rendition and offered a sample which I found to be quite pleasing. A nice lemony oregano sauce and a light, yet satisfying crust enevloped a nice sized chicken breast. I had the chicken Murphy which was two pan seared large breast portions smothered with a creamy garlic,parmesan and artichoke heart topping that really made a fine combination. Both of us picked the smothered red skin mashed potatoes as the veggie foundation and it was a good pick. Lots of garlic, cream, and I believe a hint of horseradish really complemented the chicken. The desert dry martini and a glass of the house chardonnay were winners and we left bulging at the seams again for right at $60, drinks included. I think Ms. Lisa has a nice thing going here. I believe she is open Thurs thru Sun. I would recommend reservations. I think this is a fine spot to entertain someone in fine fashion without breaking the bank. 2 thumbs up. I'll report my Peoria finds in a separate post. Bon Appetit'