Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Lou Henri's

During a nice little visit to Iowa City in which we stopped at the Farmer's Market and the ped mall, we met up with my sister and her bf for a late lunch. She decided to bring us to a diner called Lou Henri's. The experience was...interesting and led to us renaming the diner Poo Henri's.

My sister had good things to say about it and what I've read on the internet leads me to believe it was an "off day." An incredibly "off day."

The decor is pretty awful and random, like eating at your poor crazy aunt's house.

Nonetheless, I was hopeful because the menu was pretty unique. Mostly breakfast foods, but at least they put some thought into the dishes instead of having the typical you choose the egg, meat, bread etc. (Click the picture to enlarge)

I went with the Eggs Jackson with a fruit cup. Not sure why it's called Eggs Jackson, but I kept picturing Andrew Jackson, which should have tipped me off. It was a poached egg on ham and an english muffin. Richie chose the Huevos Diablos. That's devil eggs for you gringos. Scrambled eggs on sausage patties, covered with salsa and onions. Kaitlin got a club sandwich and Kurt got an omelet.

Well the worst part of the experience was waiting for our food. The place was no where near busy, it was about 1 p.m. when we arrived, so the lunch crowd was clearing out. I downed my diet Coke in about 2 minutes and waited a half hour for my refill. We still hadn't gotten our food, so we waited and I nibbled on a scotcheroo stowed in my purse. After being there for 55 minutes and seeing our waitress once, we decided to give it another 10 minutes, and then we would leave.

Well the food came out about 8 minutes later, so the four of us quickly shoved the food into our mouths. Maybe the long wait had tampered with our taste buds, but none of us were impressed. The potatoes were very greasy and burnt, my sister's potato chips were inedible, Kurt's omelet was missing cheese, and Richie will eat anything, so whatever. He ate this...

And he ended up eating most of my food even though the toast was hard and my english muffin was rubbery. Hunger will make you do strange things.

The fruit cup was the best part, but even that didn't taste very fresh. It took an hour to make, so I expected some fresh off the tree taste, but no dice.

We finally left around 2:20 and were in such a rush, we didn't bother to make a stink about paying full price. However, the waitress got zilch and, judging by her lack of eye contact, I'm pretty sure she knew it.

not recommended.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Doughnut Duel

I was up and at 'em early one morning, so I decided to head out and get some breakfast to go. I already had a place in mind, South Park Bakery in Rock Island (513 20th st off 5th Ave). I had never before been there, but I read some good reviews and thought I'd check it out.

Being in Rock Island, there was about a 70% chance of it being a sketchy ass place and 40% chance of me being shot. So I grabbed my pocket knife and braved the journey to be pleasantly surprised by the cute little storefront. It is quite small on the inside with no seating, but it smells delicious and all the baked goods are displayed nicely under the glass counters.

Though immediately drawn to the cakes, cookies and brownies...

I was determined to get a breakfast food, so I chose a filled long john, an orange danish, and a strawberry danish. I felt a little rushed because some people walked in behind me. They had probably 10 flavors of danishes and a dozen different doughnuts. They did not have any cake doughnuts. My total was less than $1.80.

The vanilla long john was filled with bakery frosting! So basically I was eating cake anyway. I love cake.

The haul from South park

The danishes were fantastic. For real. I can't think of a better adjective to describe how good they were. The jams were very sweet, and the frosting was also flavored. None of these pastries are for people who complain about stuff being too sweet. who does that? (see below)

Well, I knew I was gonna eat all three of these suckers, even though it would upset my sensitive belly, so I stopped at Donuts and More (1717 Brady) again to get Richie something. It ended up being three somethings because, again, it cost less than $1.80. I was disappointed they didn't have their pumpkin flavored donuts yet, but they assured me that they will soon. Also, I realized that they have a much better selection earlier in the a.m. The early fatty gets the donut.

So I dropped off a blueberry donut to my mum and brought Richie the orange and lemon filled. Orange has just a slightly orangey taste with a vanilla glaze. R said the lemon filled tasted too fake lemon-y, but I liked it. (He's one of those people that would complain about food being too sweet or rich.)

Donuts and More
Lemon Filled and Orange glazed


Lemon cross section

Both places are locally owned and very retro feeling. I'd love to have one in my neighborhood, but I suppose being so far away makes it more of a special treat. Be sure to get to these stores early for the best selection (and because they close in the early afternoon).

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Deluxe Diner & Al's Beef

Richie's Road Trip by Richard Keith as dictated to Sarah. (i take no responsibility for violence or lack of humor-SC)

Chicago... the windy city
I headed to Rogers Park to meet up with friends at Lopinto's for a Hate party/house show
Highlights of Friday evening included deep dish pizza, drawing on the wall for 6$ and watching Lopinto super kick a photographer during Hate's set. Good times.

Saturday morning we set out for breakfast, and after being pleasantly greeted by several Chicagoans (weird, right?), we arrived at Deluxe Diner (6349 N Clark St.) It was a pretty cool place, not overly retro or fancy, just your basic eatery establishment.

We both got a large breakfast with eggs, hash browns, french toast, and bacon. The food was pretty decent, and our server was super attentive and polite. The only thing i could complain about was that it cost about $10 apiece. This is why cities suck.

So after seeing some Chicago sights, including the lovely park where 2 women were stabbed in the face earlier that month, we met up with some others to road trip to Champaign. We were all pretty hungry so we stopped to get food first. Eric and I both decided to get Al's Beef, a franchise restaurant with numerous Chicagoland locations. Because seriously, it was that or Jimmy John's, and who gives a crap about Jimmy Johns?

Chicago is known for its Italian beef establishments. I have yet to find places like this anywhere in the QC area, and I doubt I will.

Look at that beef simmerin

Al's Beef, much like other beef places, had the standard choices of beef, sausage, combo, and hot dogs. I was leaning towards combo, buuut i did have a 2 hour car ride, so i went with the beef with sweet peppers meal.

The fries from here were seriously some of the best fries I've had in awhile. Crispy, salty and delicious. The beef was pretty good as well, the meat was juicy and tasty, and the peppers and cheese were perfect. Not the best choice to eat in the car i should say, but i strategically used the wrap as a trap for all the juices that escaped.

Chicago is definitely one of those places that you could eat somewhere different every meal every day for a year and still have plenty of new places to try. Until next time..

Urban Grind

We happened to be downtown one day and saw a little sign above a nondescript door that stated Now Serving Breakfast. Breakfast is, in my opinion, the best meal to eat at a restaurant. So we ventured back to that little yellow sign and found Urban Grind (221 Brady). It's a cute little coffee shop that seems to have a lot of regulars who work in the downtown Davenport area.

They had 2 women working, one doing coffee drinks and the other cooking in the back. They were both friendly women but it seemed like they would "tell it like it is" if provoked. They almost did when some guy tried to tell them how to make an espresso. I liked them.

They have a fairly small breakfast menu. I kept looking at the menu board and wishing we had come for lunch instead, because lasagna sounded pretty good. We ate at the counter because I'm a big fan of Cheers and wish I had a place where I can walk in and everyone yells, Sarah! and then I say something witty. But I digress.

Most of the menu is egg dishes, so I got a ham and cheese omelet with their "famous" rosemary fried potatoes. Richie got a country scramble that had sausage, mushrooms, and onions.

As you can see, my omelet was very pretty and the inside was full of ham. I wasn't a big fan of the potatoes, I think the rosemary wasn't my taste, but I liked their texture? I dunno, just wanted to say something positive. Grapes were grape-y.

The scramble was also full of goodies. It's nice to visit a restaurant that is generous with their toppings.

Neither of us are coffee drinkers, so if you visit drink at your own risk. I wouldn't know good from bad. I'm not even sure what an espresso is.

hey hey hey

Overall it was a pretty nice place. Nothing too impressive. The breakfast was good, fast, and served in just the right portion. Try it sometime if you happen to be downtown for...a drug deal, very important business meeting, or whatever it is people go downtown for.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Gramma's Kitchen

Well my parents made me clean out my old room (bummer), but the good news is that I found a huge ziploc bag full of change. Add it to our change jar, take back some cans, and bam, $50 for a nice dinner out. We considered the Machine Shed, but decided to try something new instead. So we decided Gramma's Kitchen must have some good homestyle cookin.

When I eat in my grandma's kitchen, it's usually Heavenly Ham or Happy Joe's Pizza, but I get the concept. Grandmas are supposed to be great cooks who spend hours toiling away in the kitchen, making everything by scratch. You'd think this restaurant would serve similarly prepared food. You'd think that, wouldn't you?
Gramma's Kitchen is located across from the World's Largest Truck Stop in Walcott, Iowa, a short jaunt down I-80. The truck stop opened in 1964 while 80 was still being constructed. It currently encompasses over 75 acres and houses everything from a dog wash to a dentist.
Gramma's Kitchen was built in 1984 by Heart of America restaurants. It caters to truckers and older folk. We should've known...

The menu sounds pretty good. Down home classics like chicken fried steak which Richie ordered, chicken pot pie, steaks, turkey, etc. Prices are around 10-12 dollars for most dinner items. That includes unlimited trips to the salad bar.

First we decided to try the fried sweet corn balls, but the waitress came out and said they no longer had any sweet corn. We tried cheddar curds instead, which were decent, but probably not fresh.

We took our trip to the salad bar to discover a giant bowl of bagged salad and then some bowls of dressing, cheese, and pudding. Pretty disappointing. If theyre going to do that, why not just bring the side salad to you?

I'll be honest, I really liked the blob of green jello salad

Finally, we got our meals and Richie complained about the potatoes being lumpy. I happen to enjoy lumps and chunks in my potatoes, so I tried mine and they were flavorless. I added some gravy, but it was so salty, I could hardly stand it. Unfortunately, I had to use more gravy on my turkey because it was too dry to eat otherwise. Also, the bread that came with my meal was like two slices of cold Wonder bread. Really, gramma?

I had been excited to try a dessert, but by that point, we were both so anxious to get out of there that we just paid and left. I drove over to the truck stop to get a Blizzard from DQ.

So there you have it. Gramma must be a real winner. I think it's time she checked out of the kitchen and into a home. Try the Machine Shed instead.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Freight House Farmers' Market

Saturday morning we headed down to Farmers' Market with empty bellies. If you've never been, be prepared for samples galore, as well as yummy food vendors.
First stop, to get my nephew and his pet moose a lemon shake up

We wandered around in search of delicious apples and fresh produce, of which there is plenty. Plus, you get to support local farmers. ugh, I know that sounds like liberal hippie drivel and I am neither. But seriously, do it.
Here is a beautiful gala apple. I like to cut these up and add them to salads and sandwiches. Try toasting Muenster cheese with apple slices and cinnamon on a piece of sourdough.

Inside of the Freight House, they have lots of baked goods. After a sample, the lime bars were callin my name.

I have no idea who made them, but their booth is in the southeast corner. We also sampled some breads, salsas, and candy.

Back outside, we had to head over to the BBQ stand. It's a shame these people don't have a restaurant, because we would become regulars.

Last time, I had the juiciest smoked chicken I have ever tasted. This time we got the sampler with both chicken and ribs. Yea, it was about 10 a.m. What of it?

They bring out this huge smoker and smoke the meats right there, every morning. It's never too early for BBQ!

Lastly, we rode the Egg Roll Express into Shishkabob city. This stand also does not represent a local restaurant, which is a shame. Richie got a kabob for $4. I have no knowledge of Asian food whatsoever, but it looks like pork to me.

We didn't forget about Tater Tot. He got a doggy brownie from Tailz er Waggin' which he split with Echo and Smoke. They all thought it was "just terrific." I really wanted to try it, I mean, it's a brownie with peanut butter frosting. Unfortunately it does not smell as good as it looks.

In my opinion, this is the best Farmers' market in the area- it has the most variety and least hippies. Saturdays from 8am- 1pm and Tuesdays from 3-6 pm. Saturdays are much busier, but the variety is greater.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


We once again ventured into the wild and wacky world of west Davenport to visit Harlan's. Seriously, don't even try to go to their Wal-Mart. I don't want to be judgmental, but it's a trash ball convention in there. Once we made our way past Wal-Mart and the groups of kids running across the Kimberly Road in front of us, we found Harlan's. Originally named Triangle Truckport, it was opened on Thanksgiving Day in 1953 by Harlan Hagberg. They, obviously, catered to truckers heading down Highway 6. When I-80 opened and truck traffic was rerouted, the restaurant became a family diner and changed it's name to Harlan's (3923 W Kimberly Rd).

I'm always hungry right after work so I get faint and cranky if I don't eat right away. It was before 5 when we rolled into the parking lot. So us and the senior citizens enjoyed a quiet meal in the cute Village-Inn-esque restaurant.

Harlan's serves home cooked meals with homemade dressings, gravy, and real potatoes. They also serve breakfast all day. Who doesn't love that? Terrorists probably.
True to his irish ginger heritage, Richie opted for corned beef hash with cheesy hashbrowns, eggs, and toast. The hashbrowns were amazing-- not the shredded frozen kind you find elsewhere.

I got a grilled chicken sandwich with honey mustard, salad, and potato salad. I guess the theme of my meal was honey mustard because I used that as the salad dressing, and potato salad was made with it. It was very sweet.

The chicken breast was huge, so I cut it in half and ate just one booby. I don't eat buns, which people find weird, but gluten allergies are very real and not weird so pfft.

For dessert, we took a piece of caramel apple pie home. no picture cause I destroyed it before i thought of it. It's the third one on the dessert menu...

So if you happen to find yourself in west Davenport, stop at Harlan's. The servers were very nice and the food was A++ homemade yumminess. Supposedly their fried chicken is awesome and all their food is available for carryout (391-5560)