Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Jarling's Custard Cup

I have quite the sweet tooth but it was actually Richie who wanted to stop at Jarling's Custard Cup after our dinner at Gross' Burgers.  Even though I had just eaten ice cream, the menu sucked me in and many flavors begged to be enjoyed.  When you've been open for over 60 years, there's a lot of time to create new and delectable flavors and treats.

Custard Cup was first opened in 1949 by George and Helen Potter.  George created the original custard recipe.  They retired in 1969 and the Jarling family bought the business.  The family still owns and operates it today.

We drove up around 8 pm and there was a short line of people waiting to order at the windows.  It gave me ample time to check out their menu and make a knowledgeable decision.  I take my frozen treats seriously. Vanilla, chocolate, lemon, orange, and strawberry custard are always available for your tasting pleasure.  They also rotate in other flavors each week.  If I recall, the weekly flavor was Butter Pecan.
Shakes with mix-ins are called Snowstorms.  Typical.  The ice cream pies sounded awesome but I didn't want to display my gluttony in public.  The full menu is online here.

So what did I choose?  I finally settled on a dip of chocolate custard with marshmallow topping.  Relatively tame, but I wanted to be sure I could taste and feel the custard.  That sounds odd.    Ever the sour one, Richie chose his typical lemon custard. 

We sat at a picnic table on the side of the building and enjoyed our frozen delights.  The custard was rich and smooth, very filling compared to the soft serve I had earlier.  I only ate about half of my sundae before I threw in the towel.  The chocolate tasted a bit artificial, or maybe it was the topping, but it wasn't my favorite chocolate dairy treat.  If I go back, I'd like to try orange.

Richie claims Jarling's has the best lemon custard he has ever had.  "Best lemon custard ever. I have yet to find an equal."  That's the most glowing review he has ever given any sweet treat.  He also ordered a green river and gave that a less than stellar review.  "It was clearly made with off brand lime syrup, not official green river flavoring. And it had that crappy slush ice that I hate because it immediately waters stuff down."  I think Lagomarcino's sets the bar pretty high, but I have to agree with his account.  I took one sip and all I could taste was odd flavored water with a hint of lime. 

Overall I would recommend Custard Cup.  It seems to be popular with the locals which is always a good sign.  It's definitely a smoother and more filling treat than a DQ creation, and if you're a fan of custard it's the obvious choice.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Gross' Burgers

On a trip to Eastern Illinois, we got a tip to check out a burger joint called Gross’ Burgers.  Anyone who can succeed for 30 years with that name must make a mean burger, so we drove to Danville to check it out.  
 When I see a sign for “gross burgers” I conjure up an image of Wendy’s Jr bacon cheeseburger.  Thankfully, these were nothing like that.

The place is pretty small with several metallic chairs and tables crammed into the dining area and a tall counter where customers place their orders. 

 It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the owner was in the Marine Corps.  Based on the jungle d├ęcor, I’m guessing that he’s a Vietnam vet which automatically makes him a total badass.  Above the door is a mural complete with the front half of a jeep, a machine gun, and empty shells.  Uniforms and American flags adorn the opposite wall.  

 After we ordered and the infantry got to work, we found a place to sit and I took in the surroundings.  I was inspired to start a ‘Nobama’ chant but our burgers arrived and my mouth got too busy.

If you’re like me and have a hard time making decisions, Gross burger is the perfect place.  It is decided that you will have a burger.  If you want a side, it will be fries.  Ice cream presented a problem because I wanted a half and half twist cone.  They do not have chocolate ice cream. So I chose to have blue goo swirled in.  They ran out of the goo.   Finally, I settled on a cone with watermelon swirl.  Shakes are also available in vanilla, chocolate, banana, strawberry, and cherry.  The special is the All American (f*ck yea) meal which, unsurprisingly, includes a massive amount of food for under 7 bucks.  Can you guess what Richie ordered?

The meat for the burgers is ground daily which immediately trumps any fast food burger you’ll find.  (Still waiting for a restaurant that keeps their cows out back.)  The patties are grilled and flattened to the size of a saucer.    I ordered a simple hamburger with pickles, ketchup, and mustard.  The burger spilled out the sides of the bun, so Red and I started with the well done edges.   After the long journey to the center of the burger, I was full, but the burger was just getting to it’s juiciest. 

Feast your eyes on Richie’s triple cheeseburger.  Though the crust of the burger looks well done, you can still see pink in there.  Ooh Rah.   He went on the offense and gobbled that thing up.  

The fries are pretty standard looking but they are dressed in a light garlic salt.  Each table is locked and loaded with little containers of garlic salt and cayenne pepper.    

 Someone was also clumsy enough to dump about a gallon of garlic salt on the floor by the trash cans.  My shoes still smell delicious.  

 The ice cream was fun because of the red swirl which really did taste like watermelon…well…  Laffy Taffy watermelon, because real watermelon tastes like air.    After dessert we evacuated by chopper and Operation Frequent Binge was complete.  

Gross’ Burgers is just the place we love to visit and blog about.  The setting is interesting and homey, the service is fast, and the food is delicious.  If you’re in Danville for lunch, go get Grossed out.
Here’s a great article from another Gross’ Burgers fan. http://saltofamerica.com/contents/displayArticle.aspx?7_102
Gross's Burgers on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 6, 2012

Crust Stone Oven Pizza and Pub

Not a fan of Quad-Cities style pizza, Richie was eager to try the new restaurant, Crust Stone Oven Pizza and their "European" style pizzas. Oh la la.  On Bix Saturday, we pulled into the parking lot and weren't sure if they were open or not.  As we walked in, we saw that it was only the 3rd Saturday they were open during lunch hours.  Their normal business hours don't begin until 4 p.m. on all other days of the week.
 We were offered either a table inside or on the patio, so we opted for the chilly air conditioned dining room.  The interior is pretty swanky looking- black and white, dim lights, photography on the walls.  Each wall was adorned with a couple of TVs turned to either ESPN, the Cubs game, or some snooze fest volleyball Olympic game.  Sad choices, so I stared at the walls instead.  And these randoms

The menu is small, but appealing.  The appetizer and sandwich section offers fancified french fries and cheese curds, a chicken sandwich, a burger, and mac n cheese.  The pizza offerings are your typical pepperoni, margherita, and sausage, plus a few interesting flavors- chorizo potato, three pigs, and chicken artichoke.  View the menu here.

Being the good carnivore he is, Richie ordered the three pig pizza which is topped with pancetta, capacolla, and soppresatta a.k.a. a bunch of pork.  Don't ask which meat is which.  The pizza is baked in a stone oven with temps of up to 900 degrees.  Need to get rid of a dead body?  The pizzas cook in about 90 seconds.  My mac n cheese held us up, but we still received our food very quickly, in about 10 minutes.

The macaroni had a nice crust on it, dotted with bacon. Mmm more pig. The inside was very hot and filled with melted gouda cheese, bacon, and peas.  It was creamy, flavorful, and the peas made me feel like I made a healthy choice.  (I didn't)

I shared my order with Scarlett, who also gave it a tiny thumbs up, though I think she prefers Easy Mac. 

Richie devoured about half of his pizza.  The crust is very thin and chewy, so it wasn't hard to do.

He actually thought it was a little underdone and could've used a few more seconds in the oven.  He didn't eat the top crust, but I did, and I enjoyed the taste and texture had a bit of char flavor.  He happily reported that the meats each had a bold, distinct flavor.  However, they were a bit salty to his palate and decided he would try pepperoni next time.  Nonetheless, he claimed that it was delicious and real pizza, "unlike that Quad-Cities style stuff."  Whatever.

He also downed a mug of Steven's Point Root Beer.  For 4 bucks you should get to keep the glass.  He likened it to Barqs because it had a bitter bite to it.

We had no issues with our waitstaff, and I read about a cool thing they did, but a friend of mine who went on the restaurant's second day said his waitress was very rude and ignored his table to talk with her friends.  He also said that management dismissed his complaints.  If you aren't given good service, be sure to complain.  Maybe they will listen or maybe they will continue to be douchey.
Crust Stone Oven Pizza on Urbanspoon