Friday, December 28, 2007

Wow. Some review site.

Yeah, slacking here a bit. Got all graduated from college, and still waiting to hear back on a job. So, no money for dining out, though my Dad picked up a Monical's Pizza, large with sausage. Just dreamy!

Sooo... until someone comes along and decides to job me, probably won't be too much of the review kind of thing!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Old Chicago, Peoria (the one out by the new mall)

When someone says to me, “Let’s go to Old Chicago,” I am just old enough to think that they are talking about the indoor amusement park that used to be in the Chicago suburb of Bolingbrook back in the late 1970’s. It was one of the places we visited during one of our family vacations when I was a kid.
Nowadays, few people remember the defunct park, but they recognize the name of a pizza restaurant that has locations throughout the United States, including two in Peoria. The first restaurant opened on the riverfront platform, located with Joe’s Crab Shack and the now defunct (that word again!) Damon’s Grill.
Old Chicago prides itself on the sporting teams of the Windy City, with d├ęcor and televisions advertising the Cubs and Bears, for the most part. Street signs, cityscape pictures, and pride in serving Old Style all contribute to the ambience. If people are not there for the World Beer Tour, which offers fabulous cash and prizes for drinking 100 different beers, they are there for the Chicago cuisine, especially the pizza.
On this night I was joined by my wife, Jenny, and our two friends, Ron and Katie, for an early Saturday evening dinner. Upon entering we could see open booths, but were told we would have to wait about 10 to 15 minutes. Turns out it was time for the shift change, so there must have been some issues presenting themselves. It was no big deal, as we were not in a great hurry.
We were sat in a booth with a high chair at the end for the lovely one year-old Chloe, and immediately our server was there to take our drink and appetizer orders. Our group chose to share Pepperoni Rolls, which, as it may sound, were pieces of dough rolled up with pepperoni inside, along with some mozzarella cheese. We also ordered “Italian Nachos”, which tasted just wonderful. These consisted of fried pieces of pasta, topped with slices of Italian sausage, pepperoni, pepperoncini peppers and some mozzarella cheese, with a side of marinara to dip. All of the flavors worked fabulously together.
Our dinners arrived shortly after we had completed our first course. Ron and I both ordered the Southwestern Fajita calzone, which contained chicken, salsa, cheese, onions and bell peppers, and came with a side of green chili ranch dressing for dipping. We both enjoyed our dishes, though Ron stated that his was a bit liquidy, probably from the salsa.
My wife ordered the classic club sandwich, which she liked. It was nothing out of the ordinary, and she reported that her fries were a bit overdone. Katie thoroughly enjoyed her calzone with pepperoni, extra cheese and green olives. I heard nary a complaint from that end of the table.
This visit to Old Chicago was a wonderful time, with a very attentive waitress who looked to the needs of the talkative Chloe, bringing applesauce and crackers for her to munch on.
The kicker for me and any restaurant is the timely and efficient manner in which I am brought many soda refills. I am happy to report that I floated right out of the restaurant.
After a visit like this, the next time I hear the name “Old Chicago,” my mind will be focused on something other than a crappy indoor amusement park. I will instead be thinking about the good times to be had, especially during baseball season when the Old Style is flowing and the Cubs are winning (or at least playing on television—can’t ask for much).

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Hi again!

I had a few moments break between my various studies to update this thang. The review below (Kobe) was actually an assignment for my review and criticism class at WIU. Bill Knight is my professor-think he knows a thing or two about reviews?

I'm looking forward to getting back to Peoria here in a few weeks. Probably be too poor to go out and eat much for the first month or so, but you all can look forward to some new stuff.

I wanted to give a shoutout to jeep2000 and her blog. She has all sorts of good reviews on her blog, too. And she seems to get out more!!

Kobe Steakhouse of Japan

“Let’s go somewhere different tonight. I’m getting tired of the same thing.” Father-in-law had a good plan, and he pursued it. With his family in tow, he took us to the Kobe Steakhouse of Japan, the newest restaurant in the Willow Knolls Shopping Center. What was expected was a culinary acrobatic show performed by gentlemen who knew their way around a set of utensils and a lot of banging and slamming on the griddle top. We did indeed receive all of this, but sadly, it was in an absolutely frigid room.

Featuring steak, chicken, and fish, along with a rather short sushi menu and the typical appetizer accompaniments, the menu gives the diner a good summation of the types of dishes and the way they are prepared before your very eyes, and only a few entrees were priced above $20.

It was obvious that throughout the day the room in which we were seated went unused until the dinner rush began, because the large room that we passed through was comfortably warm and cozy… and full. We reluctantly removed our outerwear and hoped that the grill would get us warm. Starting us off with a round of drinks, our orders were quickly placed and the salad and soup arrived. The small garden salad was topped with a dressing that we could only describe as some sort of creamy Italian taste with a splash of soy sauce, and it was very tasty despite its simplicity. The onion soup, garnered with two large mushroom slices, was not overbearing in taste and was quickly chilled, another victim of the room temperature.

Our chef arrived with a cartload of squeeze bottles filled with sauces, plates with meat and vegetables, and a large platter of rice to go along with the rest of his tools of the trade. He began by firing up the grill, during which time we leaned closer in anticipation of gathering some of the warmth. The chef started squirting various liquids on the grill and, upon whipping out a lighter, set fire to said liquids, pushing us right back into our chairs.

He prepared our orders with great skill and flamboyance, even delving one more time into his pyromaniacal side by creating a volcano-like structure with three rings of onion, dumping his magic liquids in the middle, and watching the flame spew forth once again. Various combinations of steak (including filet mignon, which was described as “very nice and tender”), chicken, halibut, and shrimp were cooked up and served before us fresh from the griddle. A large serving of fried rice was prepared and dished out before the meats were prepared, and it had to be eaten quickly before it went cold.

Towards the end of our meals many looks of satisfaction were exchanged and promises to return to this restaurant were exchanged. The sounds of our party blowing on their hands to regain warmth signaled our exit from the restaurant.
Kobe Steakhouse of Japan is well worth the visit, but make sure you get there early, lest you be seated in the walk-in freezer.