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 reviewed last week? It was Kumar’s Kafe, located at 53 E. Ferguson Ave. in Wood River. Delicious food, chilly atmosphere. Must have been the snowstorm.
My companion and I were traveling and must have made a wrong turn or two. Maybe three. We had been driving down twisty country roads for more than two hours and were hungry and tired. 911 has done a good job of giving names to these long roads, but they still don’t show up on road maps, so we had not the slightest idea of where we were. Finally we came upon a place that was on the map, and began looking for a place to eat and rest. Nothing, nada, zilch. After crawling through several little eatery-free towns we finally saw a wooden sign with a bright logo and the word “restaurant” on it. Hooray!
We entered and just stood there for a minute, drinking in the atmosphere. The logo was repeated on a rug, a calendar and a small framed label on the wall. There were four roomy, padded booths, two small square tables and a large round table in the main dining room. A smaller room was also available. The glass counter was covered with crayoned pictures from younger patrons, including a drawing of the logo. A wallpaper border of vintage drive-ups ran around the room. Even the clean, white curtains had a restaurant print on the borders.
Two servers greeted us warmly and pointed out the specials while we seated ourselves in a booth by the window. The room was fairly empty when we arrived but filled up quickly. Each table was already set with flatware-in-a-napkin, pepper, salt, sugar, sweeteners, creamers, hot sauce, mustard, catsup and jelly.
Our server gave us menus and asked for our drink orders. When we asked for water, she asked us if we wanted lemon. Be still, my heart! I ordered the pork chop special, and my companion went for steak and eggs. I saw the appetizer list and could not resist the sampler platter, even though I knew I was ordering too much food. You know how one is advised not to shop when hungry? I was overwhelmed by choices, so I took them all.
While waiting, we took advantage of the restroom facilities. They were sparkling clean and decorated as lovingly as the rest of the building. The women’s room had a wallpaper border with a gardening theme, and the men’s had a border of automobiles, with checks from the border to the ceiling. The wastebaskets were really tiny, and the rooms too small for wheelchair access.
The appetizer platter seemed enormous. There were three good-sized pieces of boneless chicken, mozzarella sticks, onion rings and many fried mushrooms. I would have liked some marinara sauce for the cheese sticks. We were still chowing down when our food arrived. I had two grilled chops, corn, mashed potatoes and gravy. I asked for a piece of bread because the delicious pork chops were in a plate of juice, and I just had to sop it up. The mashed potatoes and gravy were served on a smaller plate and the corn was on the plate with the chops. Since we were not given spoons, I would have preferred the corn in a small bowl so that I could pick it up better with the fork. We didn’t get any more napkins, but I snagged one from the empty place setting beside me. My partner was very pleased with the tender steak, eggs-over-easy and American fries. We were too full to consider dessert and had to ask for a go-box because we could not finish all the appetizers.
The total for the appetizer platter, two specials and tax was $25.85. I loved the warm, friendly service and skillful cooking. Soft mints and toothpicks were available at the cashier’s counter, where our server told us how the restaurant got its name.
Cleanliness – five stars
Food – four and a half stars
Wait staff – four and a half stars
Overall – four and a half stars
Are you able to recognize this restaurant that we found when we were in sore need? Check the next issue of AdVantage News to see if you are correct!
The Secret Diner