Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Mama Compton's

Starting off this post in the nerdiest way possible- One Sunday, we headed to a comic con in downtown Rock Island at the Holiday Inn. After dodging R2D2 and a herd of other sweaty nerds, we scored some sweet comics and an Iceman action figure.  All that nerdiness left us famished.

Looking at toys is hard work guys. 

 We wandered back to our car and saw that Mama Compton's was just across the street. Being too lazy/hungry to walk any further, and despite it's artsy bohemian vibe, we decided to give it a try.

 We collapsed onto the first table we saw, directly in front of an old television playing The Rugrats movie. The other side of the table was a child's dream and a germaphobe's worst nightmare, a play area with a little kitchen and dozens of old toys. I was just stoked that there would be no wrestling match to keep Red in her booster seat.

"Thank you Jesus!"- Tired parents

 The menu tells a bit of the history, Betty "Mama" Compton inspired the recipes but passed away in 1995, several years before the restaurant opened. In 2008, they moved to their current location- 1725 2nd Avenue. They call it Arts Alley, because it's, ummm, artsy and in an alley.

This is art.

 The menu is available online here. I was able to find a few options for myself and eventually settled on the F-Troop Salad wrap. Which I proceeded to unwrap and eat as a salad anyway. It was very fresh and flavorful. A nice light lunch. (and then I had Ben & Jerry's as soon as we got home.)

I'm Healthy

 Richie gorged himself on the Haver Burger, topped with cheddar, bacon, honey mustard, and apples?!

I'm delicious.

 This might be the first time I ever saw him eat a fruit...yes, it's definitely the first time I have ever seen him eat a fruit. The burger was cooked perfectly and all the flavors melded well together. Screw vegetables.

 The kids get to pick 3 of anything, so Red chose chicken tenders, applesauce, and french toast. She has a refined palate for all things white. After I finished my food, I chased her around the toys shoving bites into her mouth.

 I actually enjoyed the restaurant's vibe, it was very kid-friendly and homey. Some guy was playing guitar on stage, but he wasn't too loud or awful. He was just mildly terrible.

 The staff were nice and chatty. Maybe too chatty. But the food was the highlight of our day. Several times since, Richie has craved a burger from Mama's. We will definitely be returning to Mama Compton's for a (relatively) peaceful meal.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Big Dave and Holly's

Wordless Wednesday

Another top notch tenderloin. This one coming to my stomach from Big Dave and Holly's in LeClaire.  Grilled well, not overdone like others I have tried.

And a post would not be complete without a beautiful burger shot.  

or two

Also grilled to perfection with a crisp outside and juicy innards

Big Dave and Holly's- still a great little joint for fast homemade food and ice cream!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Smokey's Country Diner

Being from the Iowa side of the river, the Illinois Quad-Cities is a bit foreign to me. We finally ventured over to East Moline, which is, well, East of Moline. We followed 7th Avenue which magically turned into 17th Avenue, where we found Smokey's Country Diner.

Welcome Hansel.  Welcome Gretel.

 We were greeted in a small front room with one booth and a couple tables. We went ahead and slid into the large booth by the door. They have a larger dining area in the next room.

 The lengthy menu includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and all meals are served all day.

I want to take this home to read it over and over.

 Picking my dinner was the hardest decision I've made in a while. Rough life, right?

I elected to continue my tenderloin quest and bravely stepped forward to challenge another promising piece of pork. I also got cheese fries because... CHEESE FRIES!

Richie ordered...a monster burger. Surprise?! Bateman went with the mammoth sized Mac Daddy plate, barbeque pork in a cave of macaroni and cheese with, oh, just a niggle of baked beans and scant serving of coleslaw.

 Red insisted on getting a waffle that I knew she would not eat. She is 50% bread, 20% chicken nugget and 30% fruit snacks.

 Richie's burger came out tasting fresh and homemade.  All three(!) patties were juicy and flavorful enough for him to claim that it rivals Lee's on 14th for the best burger in the QCA.


And here's another giant tenderloin to add to my collection.
Love me tender

 I ate about 2/3 of this pretty piece of pork. It was seasoned well and grilled perfectly. In my valuation of all the tenderloins I have had thus far, this is #2 on my list. Still gotta go with 11th Street Precinct as top pig. The fries were a bit on the soggy side, but they were thick and appeared to be fresh cut. The cheese sauce was an excellent addition. I didn't touch the coleslaw because it's coleslaw.

 The waffle was soft and fluffy but remained untouched. Red did gnaw on the bacon and consumed most of my toasted bun. (With lots of ketchup)

  I spy an uneaten waffle in the background.

 We received a bounty of food and feasted like kings and queens and then...the bill came and we felt a bit like paupers.  I have to say, it's fair for the amount of food you get, but not what one usually expects of a family restaurant. Nonetheless, the food will bring us back in the near future.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Homer's Deli and Sweetheart Bakery

Who wants to take a road trip to Clinton, Iowa?!  No one.  No one wants to take a road trip to Clinton, Iowa.  Too bad- here we go!

Though largely thought of as an industrial town that stinks to high heaven, Clinton is a hidden gem with some cool spots.  Paul's for example.  Paul's is a discount general store that has just about everything you could ever think you need. I needed chocolate covered bacon soda pop.  Head downtown and you'll find a lot of small businesses, secondhand stores, and thrift shops.  After visiting a few of these places, we headed to the Lyons district for a bite to eat.

Homer's Deli, connected to Sweetheart Bakery, looks and smells like a Hungry Hobo.

It was established in 1984 and named after local grocer Homer Kopp. Unlike HH, they offer an array of bread and you can customize your sandwich with over 20 different condiments, including pickles!  I can't find their menu online, but it's a deli, you can figure it out.

I ordered their barbecue pulled pork sandwich with mustard and pickles.

My mom ordered the Russian Reuben which is turkey crowned in Swiss cheese buried under Russian coleslaw. Several nationalities under one rye roof.

A slight twist on the traditional.  She also ordered a side of pasta salad which seemed to be of the mayonnaise persuasion, so I passed.

I'm going to have to use the most despised word in the English language to describe the pulled pork...moist.  It really was.  Probably because it was steeped in a sweet barbecue sauce that complemented the yellow mustard and pickles nicely.

 My mom enjoyed her hearty Russian Reuben, claiming the flavors meshed well together.

The bakery side was a hoppin with activity, it seems to be THE PLACE to go for graduation cakes.  Almost too pretty to eat...almost. The bakery has been going strong since 1950, and original recipes are still used today.
Sorry for the bum shots ladies

 After several customers cut in front of me...(wtf Clintonians?)  I ordered a filled long john and three iced sugar cookies.  The bewitching cookies were on the crisp side, and the icing was very sweet.

 Red did not eat much of her doughnut, but I took a bite and it reminded me of the gems at Old Towne Bakery in Moline (whoops didn't review them yet).  Apparently Sweetheart is known for their blarnies, but I did not partake because putting nuts on a cake is a surefire way to desecrate a delicious cake.
If you find yourself in Clinton, be sure to check out this deli/bakery combo. A sandwich and a sugar cookie...what more could you need for lunch? Vegetables? pfft.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Rockingham Road Dairy Freez

Tastee Freez is no more.  But it has arisen from the depths of ice cream hell to become DAIRY Freez.

At first glance, Dairy Freez isn't much different from it's predecessor.  The menu board is exactly the same.

We arrived around 5:30 on a Tuesday night and had to wait about 5 minutes for someone to take our order.  After we ordered, the crowd cleared out a bit, but our food still took about, oh, AN ETERNITY...or 15 minutes.  We grabbed a table and unwrapped our Freez feast.

All day long, Richie was belly aching for a burger.  He ordered a double cheeseburger basket with fries and coleslaw.  He said the food was OK.  The burger was OK, the fries were OK, the shake was OK.  Very descriptive.

He was disappointed that the bun was not toasted and said it kind of ruined the burger for him.

I decided to try the Philly chicken.  The chicken was basically grilled, chopped, capped with white cheese, and stuffed into a hot dog bun.  I'm not picky, it was delicious, and I skipped the bun anyway.  A cute little sparrow benefited.

My "loaded" fries were a big letdown.  Scant amount of cheese was melted into a rubbery glue on top of their crinkle cut fries.  The bacon was chopped into a few large pieces and sprinkled on top.  I barely touched them.

I capped off my meal with a gummy bear shake.  The gummy bears infused a light fruity flavor into the vanilla ice cream.  They then rested peacefully on the bottom in a mass grave of mutilated gummy bears.  I drank for awhile, then grabbed a spoon to properly lay the bears to rest in my mouth.

Richie got the Nerds shake, also fruit infused, but try to suck a nerd through a straw.  It cannot be done.

I think Dairy Freez is a cool place, a throwback to "simpler times," or so I'm told.  The food was fast food quality but it certainly wasn't fast.  To be fair, it can't be easy to cook food in that tiny little cracker box.  There aren't many better options for drive-in food in the QCA, but you could try Big Dave and Holly's in LeClaire.  As for the ice cream, I will give you the green light.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Front Street Brewery

I apologize in advance for the lack of beer in this post about a brewery.  We are just in it for the food.  

Front House Brewery is housed in a building that has worn many hats.  It used to be a vegetable warehouse, a car repair shop, and a printing company.  It became Front Street Brewery in 1992.  Front Street references River Drive which runs just outside it's doors and separates the building from the mighty Mississippi River and that lovely smell.

Both of us have been to Front Street Brewery before, but never at the same time.  We decided to visit on a relatively quiet Tuesday evening.  The restaurant is long and narrow with booths along one wall and a bar on the other.  They also have a nice beer garden area in the back.  The booths were full, so we grabbed a table right in the front of the restaurant.

I remembered enjoying fried pickles on my last visit, so I was a bit dismayed to not see them on the menu.  Dismayed is a nice way of saying this hangry prego lady was pissed. It was a long day and I was about ready to eat my hand, so the Slow Roasted BBQ Pork Nachos sounded particularly pleasing.  Richie ordered the Cajun Burger.  I think he was sold as soon as he read "candied bacon."  Having just watched the movie "Bears," Red wanted to eat fish like a bear. that.
 Luckily they have fish and chips on the kids menu.

 Our food arrived in a timely manner and I was immediately overwhelmed by my plate of nachos.

 This was a 1/2 serving.  Maybe the cook can't math?

How do I...hands?...fork?...dump into mouth? The chips are layered with pork, BBQ, roasted sweet corn with onions and beans, and melted cheeeeeeze. They normally come with jalapenos, but my stomach would have NOPED on out of there.

I attempted to eat politely with a fork, but what's the point?  I eventually threw that aside and dug in with my hands.  The pork was moist and tender.  The BBQ is a Chipotle Mustard blend that was sweet and tangy.  There was more than enough cheese to make a vegan cry. When the waitress took away my plate it looked like I hadn't touched it, but touched it I had.  Mhmm.  I also snagged some of Richie's sweet potato fries.  He said they were too sweet, so I guessed they'd be perfect for my palate.   They were.

Between roaring like a bear and trying to lick the window, Red ate one of the fish fillets.  I call that a victory.

Richie's burger was a hot mess.  I mean that in the best way possible.

The burger was crowned with pepperjack cheese, jalapenos, spicy mayo, and candied bacon.  He said the flavors blended well together and created a spicy masterpiece of a burger.  The burger itself was juicy and cooked well.  The fries were a nice contrast to the spiciness, but they got too sweet for his tooth.  How anything can be too sweet to a guy who drinks 6 cans of Mt Dew in a day is beyond me.  

Front Street has earned itself a return visit by this dining duo and their bear child. The food was delicious, filling, and priced fair.  I presume that Front Street would appeal to people who are both food and drink connoisseurs.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Pizza Throwdown

Just stopping by for a quick post about PIZZA. 

 What makes pizza so delicious ? Yoga mats? No that was Subway. Apparently it's MSG. And no one cared and we all continued to eat pizza. In fact, 13% of Americans consume pizza on any given day! That's a statistic from the USDA 

Over the past few months, Richie has partaken in many a pizza. First, I treated him and Red to a heart shaped pizza from Papa Murphy's for Valentine's Day. If you can operate an oven, Papa Murphy's is pretty much pizza perfection. It's seasoned perfectly and the toppings are well distributed (until you drive it home in your car and take a hard turn).
Just tilt your head to the left, k? Heart!

Then we headed downtown to Falbo Brothers Pizza (2nd and Main Davenport). It's a Midwest chain that started in Madison WI. Here is their cute story. They have pizza slices most of the day and a full menu, including gluten free crust.
 Richie and his friend shared a Cajun Firebomb. My stomach wouldn't touch that with a ten foot pole. Last time I ate spicy food, I ended up in the ER. NEVER FORGET
They ordered a deep dish but got served thin crust. So I guess the service wasn't the best.  It was jazz night when we visited. Despite all those darn seniors making noise, we both give Falbo's food thumbs up.

 Then we have Monical's Pizza. A point of contention in our relationship. He loves it, I hate it. He grew up with it, so I imagine that is some of the appeal. This is also true of our opinions on Quad-Cities style pizza. I grew up with it and I love it. He does not.
 Monical's is a chain located mostly in Illinois and Indiana. They serve scant pizza toppings on crackers. But that's just my opinion. SOME people put this bright pink french dressing on top and call it delicious while inhaling an entire medium. Some people. *shakes head*
Chef Boyardee makes a better pizza.

Finally, we have The Slice.  The Slice Pizza opened in downtown Moline (1401 5th Ave) back in January.  They offer a lunch buffet, a full pizza and sandwich menu, and pizza slices are available from 9 pm to 3am on the weekends.  The name is a tad misleading as a couple people stopped in while we were there and wanted to know if they could just get a slice.  No dice.  I could hear the cook's frustration as he once again explained, "it's just a name."

                                                           Le Menu

  I knew Richie would, yet again, want the spiciest pie on the menu, the Cajun Gumbo.  I ordered an unbreaded tenderloin with fries.  He also got an order of 5th Avenue Bread, which is a fanciful way of saying "pizza crust with garlic and lots o cheese."  

Red was quite amused when the cook began tossing the pizza crust in the air.  It truly is an art.  The cook then brought us out fancy white plates and nice silverware, a stark contrast to what I would expect of a pizza joint on the corner.  

Our food came out about 15 minutes later.  Here is our bounty:

My tenderloin is hiding under that mass of pickles.  I am still half heartedly on a quest to find the best tenderloin in the QC.  This was not it, but I have no complaints.   It was thin and grilled with a touch of spice. 

The 5th Ave bread ended up being the big hit.  Richie called it addictive and finished over half of the pan.  He also took in two slices of gumbo pizza while telling me, "you definitely wouldn't like it."   He thinks pizza sauce is mixed with cajun spices to create the "cajun gumbo sauce."  The crust had a nice chewy consistency, not too thin, not too thick.  Hmm, that's how I like my men.  

So there we have four pizza joints.  As if you needed help finding pizza, right?