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.
Did you figure out what tiny restaurant I reviewed last week? It was The Pork Barrel Bar.B.Q. Restaurant at 435 West MacArthur Drive in Cottage Hills. Wonderful down-home cooked food!
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On a fine Saturday close to noon, my regular dining companion and I stopped in at a restaurant where we had dined before. We were not greeted when we entered the large, crowded dining room, so we sat at an empty table and waited to be noticed. A couple approached our table with puzzled looks on their faces. Thinking that they needed a place to sit, I invited them to join us. They declined, saying that they were just trying to get to the door.
The large room had booths on one side, a raised platform with tables on the other, and many small square tables in between. The square tables were set on the diagonal, which made it hard to maneuver between them. The walls were tastefully decorated with framed pieces, mainly depicting cups and mugs. An enormous coffee cup was displayed near the ceiling. The cash register was on a counter near the door.
Our table was set with a paper place mat but no flatware. Our friendly server came and gave us menus, asking whether we wanted breakfast or lunch. My companion chose breakfast; I opted for lunch. I asked for water and my companion ordered a small orange juice. The server asked if it should be brought now, or later with the food. My companion said later.
I ordered a small green salad that had fruit incorporated in it with a light vinaigrette dressing. I ordered a small one because I wanted to save room for dessert. My companion requested a breakfast platter composed of corned beef hash, eggs over easy, toast and American fries.
It didn’t take long for our food to arrive, but I had to point out that we had nothing to eat with. She apologized, and then brought flatware-in-a-napkin, whipped spread for the cracker basket and catsup. She said she would bring the orange juice in a minute.
The American fries looked so good that I asked my companion for one or two. They appeared to be made of thin slices from small whole potatoes and were marvelous! I might have sneaked a couple more when my companion was looking the other way.
I really enjoyed my salad. The dressing was not at all sharp or tart, as many vinaigrettes are. There was plenty of fruit, especially strawberries, and the greens were nicely shredded. I was starting to wish I had ordered a large one, when I remembered I was going to get dessert. Meanwhile, the orange juice had not arrived. Our server was occupied rolling flatware in napkins, and although she would look up and scan the room often, we never managed to make eye contact. My companion caught the attention of a different server, and between the two of them, using lip-reading and signs, she brought the juice.
When our server came back over to take away our empty plates, I ordered apple pie a la mode. We waited for a while. I got up to check out the restrooms. On the way, I jabbed the side of my thigh on the corner of one of those diagonally-set tables. I still have the resulting bruise. The restrooms were clean, with no decoration to speak of. The women’s room had two large mirrors facing each other; the men’s room only had one. When I got back to our table, I still didn’t have my pie, so we got up to leave. We took our ticket and joined the line of folks waiting to pay at the register. Our server came up to me in the line and apologized, saying that the kitchen had not yet sent out my pie. I said that it was OK because I didn’t want it anymore.
Our two meals came out to $16.55. The small orange juice, about 4 ounces, was $1.75 by itself! Yikes! Other than that, it was a good deal for such high-quality and delicious food.
Cleanliness – four stars
Food – five stars
Wait staff – three and a half stars
Overall – four stars
Think you know what restaurant this is? Check the next issue of AdVantage News to see if you are correct!
The Secret Diner