Friday, November 28, 2014

Barley and Rye

A week before we became a quaint little family of four, Richard and I went on our once a year date night.  Though Moline's Barley and Rye is not a greasy joint, we decided to head there for a nice quiet dinner.  After all, we are high brow people who enjoy visiting locally owned establishments.

 Barley and Rye's schtick...I mean concept, is that they are farm to table.  They use ingredients grown in a 200 miles radius from the Quad Cities.  The menu is for a sophisticated palate... one that my Taco Bell loving self does not possess.

"You told me we were going to Taco Bell!"

On this particular night, after dusk, we set out to satisfy a distinct craving...for meat !

Though not a fan of red meat, I found a hamburger oddly appealing. To appease my adorable werewolf-like blood lust, I ordered the burger with a maple chorizo and side of Boetje's green beans from the specials menu.  Because meat topped with more meat is just what the doctor ordered for a healthy pregnancy.

Richie must have been satisfying a carnal craving as well.  He chose the bone marrow starter and an order of pork belly dressed with apple butter and fennel.

After a fairly long wait, our dishes were paraded out, one at a time.  The bone marrow looked particularly skeletal and not unlike the marrow treats the corgis enjoy.

dem bones

 I could not muster the courage to try it, but no matter, Richie had it finished in about 60 seconds, which is really not that impressive when you consider the amount of edible food it contained.  He said the texture was off putting.


I did partake in the pork belly, which was similar to a soft bacon but with the apple, had an added sweetness to it.
belly for my belly

 I liked the texture and different tastes in this dish, but again, there wasn't much food there.

The burger was, as requested, well done.  The flavors from the chorizo infused the burger with some sweet and spicy flavor that cleared my sinuses, but the overall texture was a bit crumbly and dry.

I ate a vegetable.

The chorizo's maple flavor was strong and I finished feeling like I had just polished off a hearty breakfast.   I left with a strong case of acid reflux and I suspect Richie did too, after paying our bill...yikes.

What can I say?  We deviated from our normal food choices and took a chance on some unique dishes from Barley and Rye.  It wasn't our cup of (fifty dollar) tea, but it might be yours.  The menu changes with the seasons and availability of ingredients.  Be sure to check out the ever changing Chef's features and event nights on their FB page.

Friday, August 29, 2014

River House

 Looking for yet another solid burger joint, The River House in Moline (1510 River Dr) beckoned to us from across the Mississippi River.  We obliged, and found ourselves there for lunch one fine summer day.

There is a nice outdoor patio area, but ragweed is raging and my body revolting, so we headed inside and found a nice booth by the front window.

Our waitress was fast to greet us and get us drinks, but seemed a bit overwhelmed by the lunch rush.

Much of the menu looked appealing, but the fried pickles were recommended by friends who said they were amazing.

  That wasn't enough to please my pickled palate.  I also ordered the Cuban sandwich consisting of barbeque pork, ham, cheese, and pickles on toast.

Though several burgers looked pleasing, Richie went with his namesake, the Richie Rich.  This bitchin burger was made for him.  It seemed like the best deal, $10.99 for two patties (most of the single patty burgers were $9-10) AND it came with a drink.  The burger was layered with tomatoes, onions, lettuce, and "special sauce," which may or may not be politically correct these days.

Pickles were plucked out of the fryer and promptly placed on our table.  I promptly proceeded to reduce my tongue to ashes.

 Lesson learned.  But were they amazing?

And out comes the "differently sauced" beast of a burger.  Richie was all...

And he did.  Though the burgers' flavor didn't quite cut it for him, he did finish his meal satisfied.

The Cuban was quite intimidating, but I stood my ground.  

The pork was great, the ham was a little tough.  Neither of us were impressed with the crinkle cut fries.  

The food was better than average, and portion sizes were generous.  Though not everything was a win, I think we will be back to conquer another Cuban... and a burger.  

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.