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 the County Seat Café, located at 316 S. Buchanan St. in Edwardsville. The bread is marvelous and the food quite tasty. It is artfully decorated, and, once inside, one would never guess that it was once a Pizza Hut. Our server did everything possible to make us welcome. The four and a half star rating is well-merited.
When walking into this dining establishment, my first thought was, “My, it’s dark!” As my eyes adjusted to the dim lighting, I was pleased by the combination of dark wood, black tablecloths and many, many framed photographs, prints and news articles covering the walls of the long dining room. My steady companion and I sat at a cozy table for two along the wall. Our flatware was already on the table, and each set wrapped in a napkin. I usually like more than one napkin, but when it is 18 inches on each side and made of soft, sturdy cotton, one is certainly enough!
Two goblets of cold water appeared as if by magic. A server asked for our drink orders. I requested a clear soda. My glass was never allowed to be more than half-empty for the rest of our stay, and I never once had to ask for a refill. The full-service bar was available for drinks of all varieties.
Delicious appetizers were set on the long hardwood bar, and patrons were able to help themselves. While waiting for our entrées, I made a couple of trips to the bar until we both had sampled each one.
Our meals were fabulous. I had pork medallions wrapped in bacon, served on a squash puree with green beans with almonds. My companion had chicken breast covered with a mushroom and garlic sauce, the green beans with almonds and roasted red potatoes. We both had flatbread on the side, and found our food delightfully well-prepared. Our desserts were larger than I expected, and very good. My companion had a slice of triple-chocolate cake, while I had a concoction of thin pastry, nuts and honey.
During a visit to the small and tidy restroom, I discovered two large, original paintings that depicted the building that now houses the restaurant as it looked years ago.
This is what I call a “special-occasion” restaurant, not one for a person who is watching his budget at the time. If you want a lovely evening out with a special friend, I would definitely recommend this small but exquisite establishment.
There were only two things that would prevent this experience from getting my highest rating yet, and those are: the restrooms are too small to be handicapped-accessible, and our table had one leg a little short, causing it to “be tippy.” This was distracting while trying to cut our food.
Cleanliness – five stars
Attentiveness of wait staff – five stars
Food – five 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