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 guess the restaurant reviewed last week? It was Polly’s Restaurant, located at 702 E. Main St. in Alhambra, at the extreme northeast corner of Madison County. A colorful parrot is used as a logo because “Polly” was the owner’s childhood nickname. It is the only restaurant I ever saw where the crackers in the cracker basket are sorted and arranged in neat rows. I was charmed by the décor, friendly service and good food.
When my companion and I walked into this restaurant, the first thing that caught my eye was a large cold case with beautiful, rich-looking desserts. After a minute, I was able to look around me at the framed photographs in the lobby, but I kept looking back at those desserts.
We were seated at a small table right off the lobby. The dining room was very full, but one section was roped off and not in use. Our server was busy, and jolly. She brought us menus and asked for our drink orders. We had water with lemon, which arrived with much more ice than water. We also were given flatware-in-a-napkin.
My companion noted that the electrical plug for the dessert case in the lobby was plugged into the wall right next to our table, which could be a hazard if a curious child were seated there. It should be covered, or the case should be plugged up in the same room in which it is placed.
The marquee outside advertised corned beef and cabbage, but we were told that was only offered for Saint Patrick’s Day, a few days in the future. I ordered the Southern fried chicken and the “garden bar.” My companion requested the footlong chili dog and fries. Only one trip to the garden bar was allowed, so I made it worth it. I created a large salad, sneaking a taste of a croûton to be sure it wasn’t dipped in garlic.
The floor in one restroom was slick, and the other restroom needed to be cleaned and restocked.
The footlong chili dog came on a split roll, not a regular bun, with a generous side of fries. I had four large pieces of chicken, cooked to perfection. I had snagged a go menu and asked our server why the menu said that the dog should have come with two sides, and my companion only was able to order one. She said, “Oh, you only get two sides with the platter.” I thought we had both ordered platters. I asked why I only had the garden bar when I was also supposed to have two sides. She said, “Well, the garden bar counts as two.” I did not see anything in the menu that supported these statements.
Nevertheless, we ordered desserts to go. My companion ordered cheesecake and I asked for a slice of a beautiful chocolate cake. There was no way I could have eaten it after the salad and all that delicious chicken. It made a wonderful breakfast the next day.
I paid $19.74 with tax. The chicken was listed in the menu as $8.95 and the hot dog platter as $6.50. Prices for the desserts were not listed, but altogether the meal seemed quite reasonable. We had to wait in line to pay and toothpicks were available at the cashier’s counter. While waiting, I had a good look at the decorations in the lobby. I loved the huge clock, but one of the photos was printed with the word “mythic” when the picture was real and not mythic at all.
Cleanliness – three stars
Food – four and a half stars
Wait staff – three and a half stars
Overall – four stars
Are you able to recognize this restaurant? Check the next issue of AdVantage News to see if you are correct!
The Secret Diner