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 where we were last week? The restaurant was Carver’s BBQ, found at 2716 Grovelin St. in Godfrey. It was a nearly perfect dining experience. I paid at the register counter, which was cleverly fabricated from a bedroom dresser, and toothpicks were available there. The only change I would suggest is having wet-wipes available on the tables, because ribs this good scream to be picked up and eaten with the fingers.
A favorite place that I enjoy is a restaurant in a building that once was a pharmacy. I usually enter through the back entrance, pass the large unisex restroom and the dishwashing station, and seat myself. Artful decorations featuring Italian culture embellish the dining room. A few tables are on an elevated platform, giving a view of the busy street outside, and more tables are around a corner near the bar. Music from a bygone era always sets the mood.
On this visit, I stopped at the restroom on my way in. I have always found it clean and well-stocked. The only unfortunate aspect to me is the floor-length mirror that gives one a clear view of himself or herself on the toilet. The mirror is nice; I just don’t care to watch myself using the facilities.
My companion had already ordered our water; no lemon was available. I had several questions about the menu, like the difference between cannelloni, mostaccioli and manicotti, and why some specials on the board over the counter had a slightly different price than the same items in the printed menu. My server answered everything to my satisfaction, although I felt she was silently wondering why I was so inquisitive. I chose baked lasagna with a salad and my dining companion ordered spaghetti and meatballs, also with a salad. We each had flatware wrapped in a napkin, and that was the only napkin given us.
The lasagna was very good and really hot. I had to wait a few minutes so I could eat it. My companion enjoyed the spaghetti very much, but said two delicious meatballs were not enough. Both meals had plenty of flavorful meat sauce. The salads had iceberg lettuce with a few shreds of carrot and red cabbage, grape tomatoes, cheese and red onion. When our server brought out our main dishes, she asked if we wanted bread and butter. I enthusiastically said, “Definitely, yes!” We were given four small slices of delicious, chewy bread with a seeded crust, and “whipped spread” in a basket. Furthermore, the spread was cold and hard, as if it had just come out of a freezer. This not only made it hard to apply to the bread, but cooled the bread down.
Several varieties of cookies and cheesecake were available for dessert, so we each had a large, yummy cookie. Each meal was $10 and each cookie was $1, so with tax this experience was $23.57. We paid at the counter. My only suggestions are to provide more napkins, especially with so much delicious meat sauce, and more bread to sop up the same.
Cleanliness - four and a half stars
Food - four and a half stars
Wait staff - four stars
Overall - four and a half stars
Are you able to recognize this little slice of Italy? Check the next issue of AdVantage News to see if you are correct!
The Secret Diner