Last week’s restaurant review was about Alton Sports Tap, 3812 College Ave. in Alton. There is plenty of seating inside and out, daily food specials and a meeting room that can be reserved for special events. The food was good, too!
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I had to go to a medical specialist out of town, so after my appointment was over, my favorite dining companion and I began looking for a good place to eat. After driving for a while, we spied a new place at the edge of the town where we were. It was easy to park in the paved lot, and we walked right in. There was only one server and the cook in the whole place, but it wasn’t very busy. There was a whiteboard listing the specials of the day near the door, which I read with interest. The server told us to sit anywhere we liked, so we chose a central table.
The room was long, with red booths down each wall and tables in the middle. Each table held salt, pepper, sweeteners and coffee creamer. There were five tall stools at the counter and an enclosed patio at the other end of the room behind a free-standing fireplace. The windows were about a foot tall and ran down both outside walls, with pleasing, framed art prints hung above them.
Our server brought menus and flatware-in-a-napkin to us. She told us about the specials, explained that breakfast was served all day, rattled off the side items, and immediately brought the lemonade we ordered. There were two all-you-can-eat specials for $8.99, each with three sides. I chose the walleye with baked potato, steamed broccoli and chicken and dumpling soup. My companion ordered the pork chops with mashed potatoes and gravy, broccoli and salad.
Our soup and salad arrived quickly, along with a basket of saltines and margarine. The salad was not spectacular. It consisted of somewhat rusty iceberg lettuce, sliced cucumbers and sliced tomatoes. My soup came in a bowl on top of a saucer. There was no room to place the soup spoon on the saucer, so the spoon was served in the soup. For all that, the soup was good, and I ate all of it. The lemonade was watery, and I requested that it be changed out for a Sierra Mist. Our server took care of it swiftly, with an apology. Before I forget, the drinks were $1.85.
When my friend’s food arrived, there were two pork chops on top of a lettuce leaf on a dinner plate, a saucer with the mashed potatoes and gravy, and another saucer with the broccoli. (When I say saucer, I mean a small plate, not an actual saucer with a depression for a teacup.) My meal was served the same way. Everything was very hot and very good. Usually broccoli is not served hot enough to melt butter or margarine, but this broccoli did so easily. I had two medium baked potatoes instead of one big one, and they were cooked perfectly; and I had a little tub of sour cream to go with them. My mouth is watering as I type this.
The server was never still a minute. She kept up conversation with the customers, refilled drinks and checked on our comfort continuously. She also tidied the counter and swept the floor between the counter and the pass-through window while we were there.
We were seated near a cold case filled with desserts, with a whiteboard sign that informed us pie was only $1.50 a slice on Wednesdays. My friend obtained the last slice of sugar-free coconut creme pie and I opted for peach. Because we were stuffed from our meal, we took them home.
There were two restrooms, clean and well-supplied, but the one I used had a door that would not lock and the stall door would not stay closed. There was nothing to do but hurry up and hope that no other patrons came in.
When we left, there were more diners than when we arrived, but the sole server still handled everything with speed and skill. Kudos to the cook, too!
Overall - 4 1/2 stars
Cleanliness - 4 1/2 stars
Service - 5 stars
Food - 4 1/2 stars
The Secret Diner