The restaurant featured last week was Fran & Marilyn’s, found at 113 S. State St. in Jerseyville. The dining room is so big, one could have a high school reunion there (if he or she went to a small high school.)
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My regular dining companion and I wanted to visit a restaurant we had been to a couple of times but I had never reviewed. However, when we arrived, the line of waiting customers was out the door! I noticed a new place close by, and we went in to give that one a try.
We were greeted immediately as we entered, and seated within two minutes. We each were given a clipboard with the menu and flatware-in-a-napkin, but what a napkin! It was green cloth and at least 18 inches square. The cuisine was Mexican. Our server came over, introduced herself and sat down. She began describing the special of the day, which was pot roast. I had questions about some of the menu items, and in the end, my companion and I both ordered the pot roast, imported strawberry soda and dessert.
We had been seated in a square dining room with many wooden tables that could be changed from rectangular to square quickly and easily. There were mirrors along the walls. Booths were along one wall of the dining room and down the hall. A square bar in the next room offered all manner of beverages. There were at least four flat-screen TVs around the bar, and two that faced the dining room. Country music was playing, but not too loudly. Specials were chalked high up on the wall, between the televisions. A large mural featuring Mexican traditional folk art was visible on the wall nearest the bar, but my favorite art piece was a silhouette of the continents on a background of what looked like reclaimed barn wood, but the entire piece actually was canvas.
The two restrooms were spacious and clean. One was decorated with hand mirrors high up on the wall. When our pot roasts arrived, we each had yellow rice with a few pieces of vegetables mixed in, a good-sized serving of very tender beef, four or five small round potatoes cooked whole, two thick carrot slices as big as a Kennedy half-dollar, and gravy. We also received iced water without requesting it, which was welcome.
As soon as I took my first bite, I noticed the taste was, well, different. I never had tasted anything quite like it before. I had another bite, and another. I have no idea what spice or herb gave the meat that particular flavor, but I liked it! The carrot slices were so large I had to cut each one in half so that I could pick it up with my fork. I thought the rice was a little dry, but it was delicious mixed with the pot roast gravy.
For dessert, I ordered tres leches cake, and my companion requested eggnog ice cream. My cake had two very dense layers with whipped cream frosting and a sliced strawberry for garnish. Truthfully, it was hard to cut, although tasty. My companion said the ice cream was very good.
Each pot roast platter was $10, each soda was $3, the cake was $4 and the ice cream was $3. We paid from the table. Our server gave me a 10 percent off coupon that I could use immediately, and there were toothpicks and mints at the hostess station. I enjoyed our visit and would like to return soon.
Overall – 5 stars
Service – 5 stars
Cleanliness – 5 stars
Food – 4 stars
Can you guess the name and location of this Mexican restaurant? Check out the next issue of AdVantage News to see if you are correct!
Do you have a restaurant in mind you would like to see reviewed by the Secret Diner? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org; include “Secret Diner” in the message.