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.
It was 5:30 on a Monday evening. My dining companion and I were hungry for steak. We happened upon a restaurant/bar that I had visited before at a club meeting.
When entering the establishment, we found ourselves in a small lobby. If one is interested in food, he takes the door to the left. If drink is more to his liking, the door to the right is chosen.
We took the left-hand door. Two small rooms plus a good-size main one assured seating for any size group. Our cheerful waitress told us to sit anywhere we liked. We took seats in the middle room, which was nicely decorated. There was a large bar but it was not in use. A big flat-screen television behind the bar was set to the news, but was not loud enough to be intrusive. A smaller flat screen on the opposite wall silently broadcasted a poker tournament. Our waitress gave us menus and took our drink orders.
I always choose water with lemon when I plan to write a review. Water tastes different in different localities, and the lemon helps if it turns out to be unpalatable. This water was fine, however.
There were at least two spelling mistakes on the menu. I was happy to see the prices were moderate, and certified Angus beef was on the entrée section. I selected an 8-ounce sirloin, which came with the salad bar and one side item. My dining companion ordered the same, and I added on four hot wings for him, since they only cost 25 cents each. Our waitress said to help ourselves to the salad bar and told us where the salad plates were hidden (?)
The salad bar was better than average. Delicious-looking Italian Wedding Soup was in a heater keg, but it was merely lukewarm, so I passed it up. The greens seemed to be the regular iceberg lettuce with carrots and red cabbage for color, with the addition of large dark green leaves, which were attractive and added to the nutritional value. There were at least eight salad dressings, with labeled ladles. Grape tomatoes, real bacon bits, croutons, sweet gherkins, sliced black olives, sliced boiled eggs, raw broccoli, both white and yellow cheese, cottage cheese, sunflower seeds and other items were all available.
Before we were finished with our salads, our food arrived. Only one napkin per person came wrapped around the flatware, but more were brought when asked. I was pleasantly surprised at the size of the steaks. They seemed larger than 8 ounces. My side was sweet potato fries, and my companion had garlic-mashed potatoes.
Usually, when I order sweet potato fries, at least a couple arrive burned. These sweet potato fries took up half of the plate, and none of them were burned. I usually eat fries first, while they are still hot, but I could not resist a slice of the steak. It was tender, cooked exactly as I ordered it, and the flavor was marvelous! I cannot remember enjoying a steak that good for at least the last five years. For a moment, our table resembled a scene from “When Harry Met Sally.” You know the one. The waitress refilled our glasses several times without having to be asked. I told her how much I liked the food and requested that she give my compliments to the chef.
After a few moments, the cook came out to speak with us. She affirmed that the steaks were only 8 ounces. She was glad that we enjoyed the food, and said she had only been working there for two weeks. Mine was the first compliment she had received.
My companion enjoyed the hot wings, which came with ranch dressing. He loved the mashed potatoes, and raved about the steak as much as I.
There were beautiful pictures of desserts on a flip-photo book on the bar, but no prices were listed and we were too full and too satisfied to inquire about them. Payment was taken at the table.
The restrooms were small and the doors narrow. I’m sure there were handicapped-accessible restrooms elsewhere, probably on the bar side. The restrooms were clean, but one of the doors would not shut all the way. One of the paper towel dispensers would not work.
I will definitely go to this restaurant again, and I recommend it highly. I award it four and a half stars out of five.
Cleanliness – five stars
Attentiveness of wait staff – five stars
Food – five stars
Price – $12.95 for an eight-ounce sirloin, salad bar and one side. Many lower-priced options were available.
Suggested Improvements – Soup should be served hot, not merely warm. The menu needs to be rewritten and the spelling corrected. The restroom door and towel dispenser need to be repaired or replaced. There were no toothpicks available.
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