Friday, August 27, 2010

Bent River Brewery

Yes I will attempt to review Bent River Brewery without having tried a beer. Obviously, the appeal of going to such a place is the locally brewed ale, but bars often offer a promise of deliciously greasy food and over-the-top hamburgers at rock bottom prices.

Bent River Brewery is located in Moline on 5th Avenue. They opened in 1997 and started brewing in 1999. They look to have some interesting flavored beers, but again, that is nothing I would know about, so take a gander...

Click here for their handcrafted beers

The brewery is located in a historical building from 1922 that once housed Henry Rehman Restaurant, Moore's Hardware, and Roger's Maytag.

On Tuesdays, people often gather at Bent River for their burger baskets. For the entire day, the baskets are just $3 and pints of brew are just 2.50. But wait, there's more good burger news-- the special is also available daily from 11am-2pm. You can't get a more filling lunch at such a reasonable price. Unless, God help you, you eat 3 double cheeseburgers from McDonald's.

Richie and Bateman were about 15 minutes late for the burger basket special. That's the price you pay for eating at odd hours. Nonetheless, they forked out the additional 4 bucks for a burger and accompanying fries.

To spice things up, Bent River has concocted some flavorful condiments. The Wasabi ketchup will appeal to those who like things hot and sweet. If you're one of those people that eats ranch with everything (weirdo), try the Cajun ranch dip.

Richie ordered the Stackhouse burger, 1/3 pound of beef obscured by a pile of fried onions and cheese and flooded with the River's Beer-B-Que sauce.

Bateman elected to give his tongue a zing with the Big Sky Burger, 1/3 lb of beef peppered with pickled jalapenos, red onions, pepperjack cheese, and doused Cajun ranch sauce.

The burgers packed an appealing punch of flavors and filled their bellies with sustenance for grappling with Dracula and gathering magical items.

The menu was revamped for 2010 and includes some atypical pub fare such as fancy schmancy salads, fried green beans, Shepherd's Pie and a half dozen entrees featuring portabella mushrooms.

You can GET BENT daily from 11am-3am. A must stop for beer and burger buffs.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Firehouse Pizza and Pub

Richie recently played a show in Normal IL at a pub/pizza place called Firehouse Pizza and Pub. (107 East Beaufort)

It is a small chain is native to central Illinois. According to their Facebook page, the chain was started 5 yrs ago by a fireman who wanted to replicate his favorite college pizza.

Do not be alarmed by the leering fireman. He is there to save your taste buds from the fires of eternal damnation.

If you're selling pizza in a college town, you have to have some sort of unique selling point. I'd suggest shirtless firemen waiters, but this particular Firehouse went with buying a million TVs. The booths have little flat screens and the walls have gigantic projection TVs. Diners will not miss whatever pitiful Illini/Bears/Cubs game they want to watch.

In addition to the sports filled environment, they also occasionally have live music in the pub area, as they did the night Richie was there.

Behind the mic

The pizza boasts a unique flavor. Firehouse has concocted a very sweet tasting sauce. What's the secret behind this? Probably massive amounts of sugar. If you are a pizza purist, you can order traditional style sauce instead. You are also probably overly picky and opinionated.

I told Richie to bring home pizza or don't bother coming home. I did not specify what kind. So... the best thing in the world besides chocolate is pickles. I think 99% of the human race can agree on this. Knowing this important fact, Richie ordered the Cheeseburger Supreme pizza because it is topped with pickles! It also features hamburger, bacon, onion, cheddar, mozzarella, and mustard.

The sauce was, indeed, very sweet and reminiscent of ketchup. Therefore, it was suited for this type of pizza. The crust is thin and crispy, though you can get NY hand tossed as well. The toppings were loaded on, covered with cheese, and each slice had it's own pickle chip. Though I ate it cold at 5:45 in the morning, pre-run, I thought it was delicious.

Their other specialty pizzas include BBQ chicken, Hawaiian, Garlic, Ranch, Taco, BLT, and Margarita. They also have typical appetizers like wings, onion rings, and garlic bread. I was stoked when I viewed the menu online and saw that they have pigs in a blanket. Such refined tastes I have.

The pizza is great and I think Richie enjoyed the atmosphere. You can forgo the pub side and just sit in the restaurant to avoid aggressive drunks/tipsy business majors from ISU.

Live music YaY

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Quinton's Bar and Deli

Quinton's is a somewhat unique concept for a restaurant. It's a bar and deli. Yes you can drink beer here, but you won't find buffalo wings or potato skins on the menu. The inside looks like a typical college bar, dark and dingy with pop art on the walls and 'clean enough' restrooms.

We stopped in around noon on a Sunday. College students had not yet begun to move in, so there were only a few groups of bros crammed into booths.

The menu is loaded with delectable deli sandwiches. You can choose from healthy fare such as smoked turkey with alfalfa sprouts or you can go heavy with a Philly cheese steak.

My mum and Kait both ordered the T.A.C., your choice of bread with turkey, avocado, cream cheese, and mayo. It came with a bag of Rachel's kettle chips for 6.50. I don't know who Rachel is or how she got into the chip business, but I'm glad she did.

The half sandwich with soup combo also costs $6.50. Here's a pic of Wisconsin Cheese soup sprinkled with bacon bits and served in a bread bowl. Midwesterners demand warm liquefied cheese and we require it served in an edible vessel, dammit.

I ordered the Cobb salad which is really like a plate of bacon garnished with some greens. It also came with a huge dollop of smooshed avocado in the center. I'm not into big green smooshed things, so I ate around it and the cucumber slices.

Kurt ordered the Beef and Brie, smoke beef with tomatoes, sprouts, Russian mustard, and brie. In Soviet Russia, mustard garnishes you!

They of course had a few vegetarian options as well. With their large menu, Quinton's does a smart job of catering to the college crowd.

I don't usually have a lazy eye.

Our plates were clean in about 7 minutes. You know a meal is good when everyone is eating off each others' plates. All-in-all Quinton's is nice place to stop for a hearty sandwich. It's located at 215 E. Washington in Iowa City, and they have locations in 3 other Midwest college towns.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Mississippi Valley Fair

Break out your cowboy hats and Lipitor, it's time for the Mississippi Valley Fair!
The fair is held every year during the first week of August. For 4Hers and country music fans, it's quite an occasion. For the rest of us... not so much. However, there is always the promise of an array of completely unhealthy cuisine. We trekked down the aisle of vendors to begin collecting foods for our cornucopia of empty calories.

The first stop was this Grater Tater stand. But it wasn't taters we were after. Notice the sign in the window? That's right, deep-fried candy bars. I had the choice of either Snickers or Milky Way, so I chose Milky Way. They pierced it with a stick, baptized it in batter, and submerged it in the deep fryer. Three minutes later, I had my cruci-fried candy in hand.

First bite and all I could taste was the batter, which was a basic corn dog batter. A dusting of powdered sugar would have enhanced the crispy shell.

Once I broke through the crust, my tongue was greeted by melted chocolate and nougat, which took on the consistency a toasted marshmallow. The overall taste was similar to that of a s'more, but something was off. It seems as though the chocolate had lost some of its sweetness beneath the batter. It was wholly unsatisfying and not worth the $4 I paid.

We continued on and stopped at a barbecue stand so Richie could satisfying his 'cue craving. Of course, it was BBQ on a stick, but they also dressed it in a warm flour tortilla. They had a nice variety of sauces to add to it as well. For $5, it was obviously overpriced, but flavorful.

My love for pickles compelled me to squander $2 for this giant gherkin.

Unfortunately, I found that pickles are only appealing when they are cold and crisp. This was warm and the skin was soft. I should have just thrown $2 in to the trash can.

Richie has a thing for food on a stick, so he ordered a Teriyaki chicken skewer. The woman in front of us in line said she returns to this stand every year for their food. This kabob was also enveloped in a tortilla and cost $5. Richie liked it, but not as much as the kabobs at the Farmer's market.

Our final stop in white trash hell was for an elephant ear and lemon shake-up. The lemonade was fresh, and I guess you could say natural, as the only ingredients were ice, lemon, sugar, and probably residue from the various insects buzzing around inside.

The elephant ear dough was kneaded, stretched, and lightly placed in the oil. They let each side crisp for about 3 minutes. Then she stuck a brush in a tub of butter and stroked it onto the warm ear. Finally, it was dusted with a mix of powdered sugar and cinnamon. Richie kept commenting on the considerable amount of butter, but I'm not sure he meant that as a bad thing.

I fed him about half of it as we drove home, probably a lobe's worth. It's definitely the best deal for your money ($4) if you can stomach an entire earful.

Although the sights and smells of fair food can be very appealing, much like Tom Hanks in Bosom Buddies, looks can be deceiving. Stay at home, save your money and your mouth.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Dr. Gyros

Got a pain in your side? A crick in your neck? Have no fear, Dr Gyros is here.

Dr Gyros will serve you authentic Greek gyros prescribed by owners John and Mary Beth Stopoulos. According to their website they have PhDs in Gyrology. They've been in practice for a few years now in an old Dunkin Donuts at 2519 18th Ave, Rock Island.

Richie needed a cure for incessant hunger pangs, and Swank needed some under the table performance enhancement for drills, so they swung by the good doctor's to get juiced up.

They checked in at the counter then took a seat in the waiting area. In no time at all, they were fixed up and holdin authentic gyros. The gyro meat is cut from a rotating spit of seasoned lamb and placed on a warm pillowy pita. Then they add the traditional tomatoes, onions, feta, and Tzatiki sauce.

Richie thoroughly enjoyed his authentic Gyro. The meat was juicy and spiced well.

Their situations were dire, so the Dr. also prescribed a side of fries. But not just any fries, oh no, they needed the Doctor's Nightmare. Fries topped with tomatoes, onions, feta, salsa, and Tzatiki.

For those who need just a dose of the Dr's drugs, you can try their Americanized elixirs such as chicken pitas, wraps, hamburgers, chili, onion rings, or fried cheese.

Be sure to take your daily dosage with Baklava! If you're in very bad shape, you may want to try the Mt Olympus Challenge.

Dr. Gyros on Urbanspoon