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.
Did you guess what restaurant was reviewed last time? It was Lovetts Snoots – Fish – Chicken & More at 2512 College Ave. in Alton. If you want something a little different, that is the place to be!
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My friend and I were trying to escape the heat, so we took in a movie. We didn’t have time to eat before it started, so we managed to contain our hunger by purchasing over-priced concessions before the show and searching avidly for a good meal afterward. We found a place where we had never been with plenty of parking close at hand. Walking in, the first thing I noticed was a huge jar of gourmet jelly beans with a scoop at the hostess stand. We were swiftly seated and given menus on legal-size clipboards and pint glasses of ice water.
The ambiance was that of a restaurant in a big city 150 years ago. Dark wood, stone accents and varied light fixtures were picked out in coppery accents. The wine lists were enclosed books with copper and leather-like covers. True to the name of the establishment, servers, both male and female, wore aprons from the waist to the calf of striped cotton. An enormous wine rack set a small meeting room apart at one end of the long room, and a bar with a flat-screen TV was at the other end. If it were not for the TV and the lack of cigar smoke, I would have felt like a time traveler.
Our server came over and gave us a rundown of the specialties of the day. My companion and I had already silently communicated with each other that we would be dining from the “casual fare” menu. If a menu has only numbers where the price should be (think 12 instead of $12) it stands to reason that you are in an “upscale” restaurant. I chose a burger with boursin mousse, applewood bacon and LTOP, but had to ask what boursin and LTOP were. Our server said boursin is a “funky” cheese, and LTOP means lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle. I decided I would have a fruit medley with my selection. My friend ordered house-made chips and a triple-decker club that needed no explanation.
Our food arrived very quickly and was superb. I tasted a tiny bit of the boursin and detected garlic, but cut the burger in two and bravely chomped into it anyway. Oh, my stars and garters! It fully exceeded my expectations!
The restrooms were beautiful, with inch-size tiles running around the walls. The one I visited looked like a display in a catalog. The washbasins were of glass, set on the counter tops. Each had a door with “W” on the glass for women and “M,” of course, for men.
We were given plenty of attention by every server that came near our table and not just to the one assigned to us. We paid from the table, so I never got back to the jellybeans. This would be a wonderful place to go for special occasions or a date. I think this may be the highest grade I have ever assigned.
Cleanliness – five stars
Food – five stars
Wait staff – five stars
Overall – five stars
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!
The Secret Diner