Last week, my friend and I were at Ragin’ Cajun Piano Bar, at 210 W. Third St. in Alton. I’m going back there for more lobster bisque and to try a few alligator bites!
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When traveling on long country roads, little towns are strung along like beads on a thread. Restaurants are few and far between. I pulled into a bar and grill after a long and weary ride. I sat down in a padded booth and was immediately greeted by a friendly, chatty server. She gave me a menu and asked me what I wanted to drink. I asked for a lemonade, which came quickly, and she told me about the special of the day.
The special was an 8-ounce sirloin with one side for $8.95, or a 12-ounce strip steak with two sides for a higher amount. I jumped at the sirloin, with a baked potato as my side. While I waited, I had a chance to look around. Each booth was set with four paper placemats, four sets of a knife and fork in a napkin, mustard, catsup, steak sauce, sweeteners, salt and pepper. There were a few high, round tables, which were not set. A few more tables were in an alcove, and there was another dining room beyond it. I saw three flat-screen televisions, and a radio was playing. On the far end of the room were three or four video games, and a claw machine full of stuffed toys was next to the booth where I was sitting. The bar was a very strange shape. I don’t exactly know how to describe it, except to say it had three right angles and seating all around it. Route 66 memorabilia was everywhere I looked. Highway signs, license plates and posters covered every wall. Even the claw machine had a Route 66 theme! Colorful Valentine’s Day and Mardi Gras decorations hung from the ceiling.
My steak arrived, cooked to a perfect medium-rare. The baked potato was huge, with a glob of butter melting over it. My server kept my glass filled every time it was half-empty. I enjoyed every bite. A steak knife came with my order, but no extra napkins. Since there were other place settings at my table, this was not a concern.
As I finished, giving a sigh of satisfaction, my server asked if I had room for dessert. There had been no desserts listed on the menu, so I was intrigued. I opted for apple-cranberry pie with ice cream. It came in an oval bowl with plenty of ice cream and a delicate sprinkle of cinnamon-sugar on top. Oh, so good!
The restrooms needed some attention. One of the door panels was loose and almost came off when I entered. The water was freezing, and the stall doors did not latch. The restroom I used had a soap dispenser mounted on the wall with no soap, and a paper towel dispenser with no towels. There was soap and towels, but why keep old dispensers on the wall if they will not be used? There was no decoration in the restrooms.
I paid from the table. The lemonade was $1.50 and the yummy dessert was $3.95. I never expected to find a special on sirloin steak, and it really hit the spot!
Overall – 4 1/2 stars
Service – 5 stars
Cleanliness – 4 stars
Food – 5 stars
Are you able to figure out where this country oasis is? Check out the next issue of AdVantage News to see if you are correct!
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