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 figure out the restaurant that was reviewed last time? It was Mini Corral, located at 1500 Main St. in Alton. The food is great and so are the prices. If you order corn pups, onion things, a funnel cake and homemade root beer, close your eyes and imagine you are at a carnival! Photos of the Three Stooges and Lucille Ball cover the walls, and Marilyn Monroe is artfully depicted on a window blind. The four and a half star rating is well deserved.
My dining companion and I were in a nearby town and were looking for somewhere different to try out. We drove here and there and finally found a place where we had never been. It was obvious from the outside that the building had been made for a popular chain restaurant, but all similarity fell away as soon as we walked through the door.
The décor was charming, and it was easy to see that a lot of thought had gone into it. The burlap-sack curtains disguised the strangely shaped windows and fall gourds and autumn leaves were placed at each one. Vintage photographs and newspaper articles were framed on the walls. The dining area had been expanded, and there was plenty of seating.
We were greeted quickly and brought menus, water and bread. And what bread! Delicious doesn’t begin to describe it! We were given two rolls and real butter. I could have eaten the bread and nothing else and have been satisfied. As it was, I ate both rolls, enduring dirty looks from my companion.
The dinners were a little more than I wanted to pay, ranging from $9.99 to $14.99. Burgers were all in the $10 range. Our excellent server pointed out that the platters were all $8.99. I chose an open-faced beef sandwich with mashed potatoes and gravy and my companion chose fish.
After a quick visit to the well-appointed and clean restroom, I found my meal waiting for me. My companion had one slice of the “specially daily made bread,” with onion and pickle. Everything was there to make a sandwich except another slice of bread. I, however, had three slices of bread, where the menu said I would have two slices. I did not share and have no regrets.
When our server came back to refill our water and check on us, I told her how much I loved the rolls. She obligingly brought us two more. My companion was able to get one this time.
Beautiful desserts were on display in a cold case, but my budget would not allow any additions at the time. The only improvement I can think of is that we could have used more than the one napkin our flatware was wrapped in.
Cleanliness – four and half stars
Attentiveness of wait staff – five stars
Food – four-and-a-half stars
Over all – four and a half stars
Can you guess the name and location of this restaurant? See the next issue of AdVantage News to see if you are correct!
The Secret Diner