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 discover what restaurant was reviewed in the May 8 issue? It was Casa Romero Mexican Restaurant at 521 E. Airline Drive in East Alton. It is a very popular place.
Today’s review is on a relatively new establishment. I had never been there before and was quite curious about it. Walking into the small lobby, one has a choice of two portals. On the right hand, there is a room with a large bar. On the left hand, there is an entry under several plaques of everyday items that, when put together, spell out the name of the establishment.
My companion and I were greeted and escorted down a few steps and across the length of a large room. There were small tables and chair sets everywhere. The walls were tastefully decorated with black-and-white photographs of local landmarks. Our host gave us menus and took our drink orders. We had our water-with-lemon almost immediately and didn’t even have to ask for the lemon.
Our server appeared and was able to answer my questions about some of the menu items. My companion ordered a pulled pork sandwich with a bowl of chicken chili, and I requested grilled tilapia and a house salad. We watched passers-by out the window while we waited, and we did not have to wait long.
My salad was a little intimidating. I saw iceberg lettuce, artichoke hearts, parmesan cheese, red onion and black olives. The house Italian dressing was already on the salad. I must confess, I had never eaten artichoke before, and there were an awful lot of black olives on there. I closed my eyes and dived in. I found it delicious! The next time I go there, and there will definitely be a next time, I am going to order it again. I nearly entered a tug-of-war with the server when he tried to take my salad plate away and I still had a fork-full left on it. The tilapia was crispy and came with the best green beans I have ever eaten. I don’t know how it was done, but I could have eaten a plate of them alone and been satisfied.
My companion said the chili was good, but the pulled pork was a little dry and could have used more of the special “secret sauce.” It came with a large pile of chips made in-house, crispy and delicious.
I was intrigued by the dessert listings. Even though I knew better, I ordered a “blondie” and my companion ordered an ice cream sandwich. When the desserts came, I was surprised that they were so large. My dessert was larger than a slice of sandwich bread, with ice cream and drizzles of chocolate sauce over all. The ice cream sandwich was made from two good-sized chocolate chip cookies with ice cream between them.
I checked out the restrooms, which were situated in a concave alcove. I loved the architecture, but the line of the curving wall was broken by a stack of three high chairs. I wished they had been put elsewhere, but honestly, every available space had seating for diners. I don’t know where else they could be put and still be handy for use. The restrooms were clean, spacious and fully appointed.
We paid at the table. The fish, green beans and salad were $12.99. The bowl of chili was $4.99, and the sandwich and chips were $7.99. The desserts were $4.99 each.
Cleanliness – four and a half stars
Food – four and a half stars
Wait staff – five stars
Overall – four and a half stars
Are you able to recognize this restaurant? Check the next issue of AdVantage News to see if you are correct!
The Secret Diner