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 Jimmy the Greek’s, located at 1856 E. Broadway in Alton. The Greek cuisine is authentic and delicious. Our appetizers of spanakopita, pita, feta cheese, Kalamata olives and hummus were yummy, the main dishes were fabulous and the triple-chocolate cake and baklava we had for dessert were out of this world. The service was perfect. I loved eating there!
The restaurant I am reviewing now is a “second chance.” I was there three or four months ago and had a terrible experience. We had to get our own flatware and placemats from another table. The fish was oily and over-breaded, my dinner salad had literally a cup of raw onions hidden in the middle of it, and the server ignored us after taking our order. If I had not said that I would give second chances, I probably would not have gone back to it.
Today, my dining companion and I drove up, determined to keep an open mind. As soon as we entered, I ran into a friend who was leaving. She said that she and her husband each had a skillet and found it good. I made up my mind to try it.
We were given a choice of a table or booth, and our drink orders taken immediately. The flatware was wrapped in a single napkin, and that was all we were given. The prices were reasonable, with a special menu, including dessert, for those older than 60. There were several skillets to choose from, all with a bed of hash browns and eggs on top. I selected one with ham, bacon and sausage with scrambled eggs. My companion had the same, with eggs over-easy. We both chose pancakes instead of toast.
I took a quick visit to the restroom after ordering, to find that the one I would normally use was out of order. So, I slipped into the other one. It needed a good mopping, and I saw no soap. There was a rather messy container that said “hand sanitizer,” so I used that. It turns out it was filled with soap in spite of its label! I found out later that there were other restrooms at the other end of the restaurant.
The food arrived shortly afterward, with everything a diner could want on the side. We were given catsup, hot sauce, a choice of real butter or margarine and syrup. Our glasses were refilled and we were left to eat in peace. I found my skillet delicious, and my companion and I finished up in a very short time. The respectful and efficient busser cleared our table and I was able to have a short talk with our server, who was also the manager. I asked if the dinner salad was supposed to have so much onion in it. She said it was not, and told me that the restaurant had been leased for a short while to some people who “didn’t know how to cook” and was now back under its original management. I was so glad to hear it that I ordered one of the salads (without onions) to take home. I didn’t see any toothpicks, but to be truthful, I forgot to look for them.
Cleanliness – three and a half stars
Attentiveness of wait staff – four and a half stars
Food – four and a half stars
Overall – four 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