No, it is not a hard-to-find restaurant, but a 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.
Were you able to figure out what pizza place was reviewed last time? It was Roma’s Pizza at 121 E. Bethalto Drive in Bethalto. The Roma’s Special pizza has always been a favorite of mine, and I love the paper placemats that feature a map of Italy and the various towns that are famous for their cuisine. Congratulations to Roma’s for winning the AdVantage News 2015 Reader’s Choice Award for best pizza!
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This review is a composite of two visits, not because it is a second chance, but just because I went twice in one month. The first time, my companion and I were in the area and wanted somewhere to escape the heat and relax. The second time was because the first time was such an enjoyable experience.
When we walked in, the first thing that caught my eye was a cold case filled with the largest, most delicious-looking pies I had ever seen. There were two waiting areas because the restaurant is a popular place for receptions and other celebrations. A very large private dining room with buffet capabilities is available, in addition to the regular dining area. The servers and hostess were all dressed in black, and some wore colorful ties. Booths each had framed artwork on the wall and tables filled up the floor. As we were led to a table, I noticed a board advertising a special meal of fried chicken, green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy, and a dessert for $9.99.
We were given a small basket of bread and little tubs of garlic spread. I wish I knew it was garlic spread before I tried it. I ate the remainder of my bread without spread. The mashed potatoes were made with peels on and were very good. The green beans were made with bacon and onion, and the chicken was cooked crispy outside, tender inside, but was a little salty. We had a choice of cake for dessert and left full and satisfied.
I went to check out the restrooms, and I have to say they were the most beautiful I have ever seen. Not only clean and spacious, they had seat covers! I have never seen seat covers in any other restaurant in Madison County. The women’s room had silk flowers, air freshener, hand lotion, hair spray, breath mints and a little tray with safety pins, cotton swabs and hairpins. The men’s room was similar with tiled walls and floors and a marble-looking counter, but no flowers.
On our second visit, my companion and I ordered from the lunch menu. Sandwich combos were $8.99 with a side of fries, soup, salad or homemade chips. I chose a crispy fish sandwich and my companion requested a double cheeseburger. We had lemonade and root beer. When our food arrived, I could not believe the size of the burger! Two patties that looked like flattened half-pound meatballs were stacked on a bun with cheese, tomato and onion. My fish looked marvelous, and both meals had a tasty dill pickle spear almost as long as the plate. The homemade chips were served in a shining metal fry basket and were crunchy and delicious. Dessert was out of the question; there was no room for it.
On both visits, the service was excellent. One pays at the counter where the front door is. The total for our two sandwich combos and two drinks was $22.19. Toothpicks, mints and a chance to purchase an enormous pie are all right there.
Overall – 5 stars
Service – 5 stars
Cleanliness – 5 stars
Food – 4 ½ stars
Do you think you know the name and location of this establishment? Check out the next issue of AdVantage News to see if you are correct!
The Secret Diner