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 dining establishment was reviewed last time? It was Ravenelli’s Restaurant & Carry Out at 3 American Village in Granite City. There is another location in Collinsville at 26 Collinsport Drive. If you go, try the homemade chips served in a shining metal fry basket. Crunchy and delicious!
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My regular dining companion and I were driving around, looking for somewhere to beat the oppressive July heat. I spied a small place that I had never seen before and screamed, “Turn here! Turn here!” We walked into blessedly cool air conditioning and it felt like a small-town restaurant in Southern Illinois, where my family is from. Everything felt homey and relaxing, from the orange padded chairs drawn up to the Formica tables, to the butterfly decorations on every wall. Everything was neat, clean and had that “down-home” feel. We were given menus and water as soon as we had seated ourselves, and I had a minute to look around.
The restaurant consisted of one rectangular room, with 12 square tables, two long tables and several counter chairs. The tables were not placed too close to one another, so it was easy to walk around without getting jabbed in the thigh by a corner. Each table was already set with a knife, fork and spoon on a napkin. The pieces did not match, which added to the charm of the place. I had a knife in the same pattern that my family used when I was growing up.
I ordered toasted ravioli as an appetizer. There were seven pieces and a bowl of delicious meat sauce instead of the usual marinara. The sauce was so good, I spooned some of it onto my bread when I ran out of ravioli.
We both ordered fish dinners. I had Atlantic whitefish with a baked potato and green beans, and my companion had catfish with a baked potato and peaches. The fish was crispy and flavorful, the potatoes cooked perfectly. We had strawberry shortcake for dessert. The strawberries were spooned over angel food cake with a dollop of whipped cream on top.
The restrooms were clean and had everything necessary. The women’s room had an ornate oval mirror and a small oil painting on the wall. The men’s room had no artwork but was fine.
The two servers stayed very busy. As soon as a table was vacated, our server had it cleared off, wiped down and reset with flatware and napkins. I learned later that it was our server’s first day on the job and she did very well.
I paid at the counter, where toothpicks were available. The total for our toasted ravioli, two fish dinners, two strawberry shortcakes and tax was $25.25.
Do you think you know the name and location of this restaurant? Check out the next issue of AdVantage News to see if you are correct!