Friday, March 26, 2010

Sterling Family Restaurant

A recent trip to Peoria brought us to Louie's Sterling Family Restaurant. Sterling Family Restaurant has mostly home-style foods with a few Greek dishes thrown in for good measure. Opa!

Who is this Louie fella? He is a mustached Greek immigrant who opened the restaurant just over 20 yrs ago in 1989. Apparently this mustached mushroom cloud logo represents him.

The seating in the main room is similar to a dining car, just one long row of booths and a counter.

We sat at the counter with chunky Danny Glover.

Most of the time when you mention Sterling, people will respond with one of two statements-- "I haven't eaten there in forever" or "President Bush ate there." And indeed he did.

They seem quite proud of that visit, one wall is dedicated to their encounter. I was more excited that Karl Rove ate there. He actually eats food to supplement his blood-sucking.

So what do the Greek Titans eat? Apparently they eat sausage, eggs, hashbrowns and toast.



Needless to say, Richie conquered the Mount Olympus of breakfast and shall hereforth be known as Richetheus.

I'm guessing Persephone feasted on such evil foods as the incredible edible egg (substitute)...

A malicious and delicious omelet with spinach and ham. I will refer to it as a nomelet because when it first came out I said, wow that is huge! And then I proceeded to eat it all because it was delicious. nom nom.

The menu included quite a few sweet potato dishes. Not sure why...they aren't really Greek in nature. A food of the gods perhaps. Or maybe there was a surplus this year. Okay they were probably on sale at Kroeger. Anyway, the sweet potato pancake beckoned me like Sirens of the Sea.

I took a big bite and it was like Thanksgiving all over again. Minus the kid falling down the stairs and mom yelling at me for not stirring the gravy. I would recommend serving this with marshmallow fluff.

Gravy robber

So the Sterling Family Restaurant...Zeus smiles upon ye. Good enough for a President, good enough for me. I really enjoyed the cozy atmosphere and fresh hot food. Service was fast as Hermes and, though the waitresses were no Aphrodites, they were very sweet.

Apparently they thought Obama might stop by when he was in town, but he didn't. He probably went somewhere expensive and ran up a HUGE bill. Let's hope he had the cash this time.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Riefe's Family Restaurant

Riefe's is another Quad-Cities landmark that first opened as a drive-in restaurant in 1946 by Orville and Del Riefe. Like many other places, they are famous for their tenderloin and ice cream desserts. It has been remodeled and expanded a few times, and is now a sit-down family-style restaurant. In the lobby area, there are photographs of how the restaurant used to look, with walk-up windows and carhops.

It's hard to imagine it now, with each room seeming to represent a different decade in the restaurant's existence.

Wood paneling ... is that from the 70s? I wouldn't know, I wasn't there.

Entrance area of the restaurant

70s/80s room? with a hint of German

So anyway... we cozied up in our little booth, buried our toes in the shag carpeting, and perused the menu. They have typical food for a homestyle family restaurant with some leftovers from the drive in era and a few German influenced dishes.

We were given this bread basket with rolls and very yummy sweet bread called Bishop's bread. It's a traditional bread of Germany, usually served around Christmas. Sort of tasted like a light coffee cake.

Then we have Richie's meal, steak hoagie with grilled onions and mushrooms. I like how they snuck an orange wedge on there, like, 'you obviously aren't healthy and we think you might need some vitamin C.'

I really just came for the ice cream... so for a side, I ordered a grilled chicken salad that was pretty awesome. The chicken is actually grilled to order, not taken out of some bag from the fridge and thrown on a bagged salad. That's always nice to see. and taste. The honey mustard was great too.

and here it is in the ethereal glow my camera likes to give everything.

Check out these amazing french fries. Light, crispy breading. They came straight from the fryer in a big delicious clump

And to cap it all off...a butterscotch soda. That's seltzer, vanilla ice cream, butterscotch sauce, and whipped cream. this thing was seriously a foot tall. It's a race to eat the ice cream before it falls off the glass. Old men at the next table were eye-sexing it hardcore.

Richie and I both really liked the vanilla ice cream, not sure what brand they use, but it was very rich and vanilla-y.

Riefe's is a nice place to take your family for a good hearty meal. It won't cost you an arm and leg either. Most of the waitresses have regulars that come in and just plop themselves in their section. Some of the old folk didn't even ask for menus. I find that charming.

I'll leave you with a link to video of interviews done by the Quad-Cities Times. it wouldn't embed. I get a lot of my information from them and from the local history section of our library. source and summarize, don't plagiarize!


Monday, March 15, 2010

Chicago Trip part 2: Golden Nugget

So to continue my adventure to Chicago, the second day found us going to breakfast at the Golden Nugget. I use the term breakfast loosely as it was well after 11 by the time we got to the establishment. This was mostly due to the fact that we slept too late for Dr. Donuts and that it took forever for us to get our asses in gear.

The decor here was pretty standard family restaurant stylings. There was a decent amount of seating considering the size of the place. Apparently the guy in this picture didn't enjoy the fact that my party was seated next to his, as we were a rough looking bunch.

The food choices were also pretty standard for a 24 hour, breakfast all day place as well. I went with the corned beef hash with eggs and pancakes. The hash was all right, a little undercooked for my taste, the eggs were eggs, you can't really screw those up. The pancakes were actually really good. They reminded me of village inn's pancakes in their light and fluffy texture. Did I mention that I was drinking coffee? yeah, I never drink coffee. This is probably why i was slightly jittery on the drive back to the house.

The Golden Nugget is a good place to sit, eat, relax, have some coffee and discuss the plans for that afternoon. Or to just have a decent meal and stay out of the cold.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Lagomarcino's confectionary

I went back to beloved Lagomarcino's, but this time it was just a quick trip to the original Moline location to peruse their Easter candy. Both my parents have fond memories of going to this store and drinking green rivers, and now I do as well.

A whole book could be written about the history of Lagomarcino's and actually has been, Sweet Memories by Bill Wundram. We have it at our library, so go to our website and search if you're that interested. Lago's isn't just some little candy shop that opened in a mall. The Lagomarcino family has a 70 yr history as a professional chocolatiers.

Lagomarcino's is well known for their chocolate Easter eggs that are filled with chocolate candies. Sound rich? Ohhh yeaaah. A tradition for almost 80 yrs, they come in varying sizes, with the smallest being the kid's size for 7.99 and the largest being around football size at 69.99. That's a 3 1/2 lb chocolate egg (milk or dark) with over 5 dozen candies packed inside. I just want to know how they fill it?

The grand daddy:

Mama egg, baby egg
Part of their window display

The gourmet food mag Saveur ran an article on their eggs one year and they ended up filling 2 1/2 UPS trucks with eggs. I'd like to fill 2 1/2 of my stomachs with eggs.

An interior shot of the old store

Everything is all Easter'ed up.. getchyo pastel on

Cutesy bunny baskets and buckets of goodies

a variety of chocolate candies all dolled up in their Sunday best

Varying sizes of cream filled eggs.
You can choose from maple, raspberry, vanilla, fruit and nut and more. I chose maple. you know...for Easter...or lunch.

More fresh cream filled eggs. have you ever seen anything so beautiful?

Like gay men's polo shirts, they even come in Easter pastels (white chocolate)

Go nuts for coconuts! Chocolate coconut nests filled with Jelly Bellys.
But let's not forget about St. Paddy's day. Binge on these delicious mints and meltaways. Fresh breath and no hangover !

These are not peeps by any means. They're "crystallized" creams a.k.a. butter and sugar wearing a delicious coat of more sugar.

Lots of beautiful bulk candies for Easter baskets- malted milk balls, sours, jellies, and balls of other persuasions.

Honestly, I wouldn't waste these gourmet candies on little kids. Throw a few jelly beans, Cadbury eggs, and Reeses cups in their baskets, then create a gourmet basket for the adults. It's a nice sweet ending to a salty ham dinner.

Lagomarcino's on Urbanspoon

Monday, March 8, 2010

Ganzo's Mexican Food and Cantina

There are about 'cien' Mexican restaurantes, cantinas, grills, etc. in the Quad-Cities, which makes sense because there is a fairly large hispanic population here. For my mom's birthday, I chose her favorite place for take-out, Ganzo's (3923 N Marquette). Apparently my dad and her used to have late night cravings for it when they were first married. They still crave it, but usually around 4 p.m.
The restaurant originally opened in 1962, and, though it has changed locations, is still owned by the Puente family. The current location is directly across from the abandoned K's merchandise store, which is convenient because Ganzo's parking lot is ridiculously small and difficult to navigate. The same could be said of the interior...

The restaurant area is very small and consists of MAYBE 10 tables. A bunch of people were crammed into the lobby area waiting. We got a booth with a chair stuck on the end because it was the only place to seat all 6 of us. We didn't care, because we aren't fussy people.

The decor is, well, obviously Mexican. But not cheezy Mexican. It actually looks/is authentic.

Of course you get served the complimentary chips and salsa. These chips were actually salted, which saved me the trouble of first licking the chip to get salt to stick.

They had 2 for 1 drinks that night and apparently make really good margaritas. Here is my sister's drink...

Here's a link to the menu. They offer what a typical Mexican restaurant would, with great prices and a few things I've never heard of like costillas, chucos, and tortas. They have a taco bar on Sundays & Mondays. Ole`.

We've got two plates here... the small combination- an enchilada, taco, and burrito is in the back. The closer plate is what comes with the fajitas- beans, rice, guac, and veggies.

Here's a terribly dark picture of the steak fajitas. Steak with green peppers and onions brought out with much fanfare and sizzzzzle. It's a secret fantasy of mine to see someone get the sizzling plate dropped on their lap...or face. I'm not picky.

And a closer look at the fajita sides. The refried beans, though disgusting to look at and think about, were actually quite delicious. I thought I'd try a bite, but that turned into pretty much the whole tortilla bowlful. and that wasn't even my plate.

A chicken taco salad. Covered with cheese. There's just no way to eat healthy at a Mexican restaurant. Unless you have the guts to request no queso.
Yes there is chicken under there. and lots of it. It was quite good, lightly spiced and very juicy. I had a similar dish at Azteca and could barely eat it because it was dry and drenched in salt. (I could honestly feel my pallid face reddening as i ate)

It was no quincea~nera, but the birthday girl was rewarded with a big fat plate of whipped cream. There seems to be some fried ice cream dabbed on there as know, as trim.

Yes they brought out six spoons, but I'll be honest and admit that I ate over half of it. Thanks mom! It's not like you had a choice in sharing though.

Everyone agreed that the food lacked the typical grease found at Rudy's and other local favorites (which is a good thing, unless you're talkin pizza). It was fairly mild, nothing was very spicy or hot, which is undoubtedly more traditional than Taco Bell drenched with fire sauce. The foods that really stood out were the chicken and steak. They were very tender and juicy. I liked the tortillas too, but I don't know if they're bought or made. You have to request goat cheese, so next time I think I will give that shot. Other than that, everything was perfecto. Next time, I will probably order a chicken torta to go and forgo the sides of anthropophobia and claustrophobia.