No, it is not a hard-to-find restaurant, but a new column for AdVantage News! Each week the Secret Diner will post a review of a River Bend eating establishment. The Secret Diner will not review chain or franchise restaurants, only privately owned ones. About the rating system: zero stars would mean avoid at all costs, one star is pretty bad, two stars is merely fair, three stars is OK, four stars is good, and five stars is perfect! Before posting a negative review, the Secret Diner will give the establishment a second chance at a different time of day. See if you can determine the name and location of the restaurant under review! The answer will appear in next week’s column.
Did you recognize the restaurant reviewed last week? It was The Grindhouse Cafe, located at 333 B West Bethalto Drive in Bethalto. The beautiful bread and enticing beverages made me want to go back again soon.
Due to conflicting schedules, I went to this restaurant with a different dining companion than usual. It took a little time to park, due to the many potholes and cars on the crowded parking lot. It was a brilliantly sunny day. We spent a little time looking at some pictures of the selections on the outside menu board before going in. It was dark inside, and it took a few minutes for my eyes to adjust. Immediately to the left was a gaming room, and I began counting the features in the large dining room. An L-shaped bar took up most of one wall and half of another. I counted four tall tables, each with seating for six, four tall tables that each could seat four, seven round tables that could each seat four and five padded booths. There was bar seating, too. I also could not help noticing that there were 14 flat-screen televisions! If so inclined, one could find a seat on the enclosed smoking porch, so just about any size group could be accommodated.
We took seats at a round table and were greeted warmly by our server. Paper place mats and flatware-in-a-napkin were already on the table, and we were given menus and our drink orders were taken in a jiffy.
I chose a macaroni and cheese dish that looked beautiful in the full-color menu and came with the all-you-can-eat salad bar. My companion ordered a fried fish dish with coleslaw and fries. We both had lemonade.
I took a moment to visit the restroom and was not particularly impressed. There were four stalls and it was handicapped-accessible, but there were only coat hooks in two of the stalls. It was adequately clean with no décor to speak of.
The salad bar not only had salad fixings, but four soups, two stews and an abundance of dressings. I had beef and noodles, Italian wedding soup and a big salad. Finally, a good use for those teeny 4-ounce soup bowls! I had just finished when my mac and cheese came. It was in a platter-size pan that was set into a wooden trencher, and so delicious! Try as I might, I could not finish more than half of it. It came with a large, garlic bread stick I gave away. My companion was delighted with the fish, hush puppies and fries, and said that the coleslaw was as good or better than that of the world-famous fried chicken chain. The fries were sprinkled with some kind of seasoning that was so good, catsup was not wanted. The lemonade was delicious and I think I had four glasses. I may have lost count. We never had to ask for a refill or extra napkins because our server was very attentive.
The menu said to ask about the dessert of the day, but our server told us that desserts are seldom available.
The total with tax was $30.18. The fish dish was $10.99 and my mac and cheese was $11.99, and each lemonade was $2.50. I paid from the table and did not see toothpicks.
Going out into the sunlight was blinding, but I vowed to bring my usual dining companion for a meal soon.
Cleanliness – four stars
Food – five stars
Wait staff – four and a half stars
Overall – four and a half stars
Are you able to recognize this restaurant? Check the next issue of AdVantage News to see if you are correct!
The Secret Diner