Before the Josh Groban concert, which started at 8:00pm, we tried for reservations at our hotel's restaurant (Carnegies); however, it had been booked for weeks. The hotel suggested that we try a new restaurant (open for only 3 months) right across the street called Red Zin. It was a good substitute.
It's a huge restaurant with several rooms and a large bar area. The color scheme is dark burgandy and dark wood. With the tables set with candlelights, it created a romantic ambience.
Because it was a concert night, special "compact" menues were used.
The appetizer that we selected was so delicious: Blue Cheese Topped "Bruschetta" made up of chopped tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, and fresh basil on rustic bread slices topped with toasted blue cheese.
A Mediterranean Salad came with the entrees, and it was just wonderful. A mixture of Mesculin greens accompanied by imported olives and artichoke hearts with a delightfully "light" vinegarette dressing made up this lovely salad.
Allan wanted either Rack of Lamb or Roasted Sea Bass, but because of the special menu that night, neither was available. Instead, Allan ordered Herb Roast Prime Rib of Beef (Large), and he was quite pleased. It came with Sauteed Green Beans and Horseradish Mashed Potatoes.
Favorite Dish: I had Green Peppercorn Tournedos of Beef which was Tenderloin Medallions with Zinfandel green peppercorn demi-glace. The beef was two huge portions of beef tenderloin that was quite tender, but I was not fond of the demi-glace. I could only eat one of the medallions.
For dessert, Allan and I shared New York Style Cheese Cake with Raspberry sauce and Creme Brulee Amoretti. Both were very good. Allan had coffee, and I had Cappuccino (which was not great).
The service at Red Zin was quite excellent even though it was solidly packed, and the waiters/waitresses had to "hustle" at all times.
I never actually knew this existed until I was in town on business a couple of years ago. I've been back a few times since for the best burgers in the Peoria area. The following from the East Peoria restaurant descriptions is an accurate description.
Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday
Description: Family friendly, come as you are restaurant featuring "The Best Burger This Side of Paradise - You Can Bet On It." Offers 13 burgers to choose from, all made from fresh ground chuck. In addition, 14 barge sandwiches are available, served on fresh-made Peligan Bread ("How Sweet It Is"). Also available are appetizers, homemade potato chips, hot dogs, salads and a full bar, not to mention the views of the beautiful Illinois River and plenty of Jimmy Buffett music.
Favorite Dish: A burger with blue cheese. I love blue cheese.
One World is an electic, if somewhat run-down, place that's chock-full of local college students and was my favorite college hangout. They serve mostly light fare - sandwiches, salads, pizza - and a great selection of coffees, teas, and spritzers in a casual atmosphere. The food, though casual, is creative and unlike anything else available in Peoria. Though One World's often too smoky for my taste, it's far and away my favorite place in Peoria. It's also the most vegetarian-friendly place in Peoria.
Favorite Dish: Spinach Melt - an addictive open-face sandwich.
Peppermint Patty - a mint-flavored mocha.
Spinach & Artichoke dip - the best I've ever had.
Since 1976 Jimbo's Jumbo has served its locally famous steak sandwich. Although now the menu has expanded to a variety of other fast serve food including pizza's whenever I am back in down I head down to Pekin, about 20 minutes from Peoria for a steak sandwich which I first experienced when they opened in 1976.
Favorite Dish: The original steak sandwich with pickles, onions and mozzarella cheese.
A Neighborhood Bar which has been around at least since I was in college in the 1970's. I spent part of my 21st Birthday here years ago. Last Friday night I was back in town and met up with two old co-workers from the 70's. We had a great time remembering all those crazy days selling computers which constantly needed repair.
Favorite Dish: This is your typical bar which serves a small variety of comfort foods. Daily specials include catfish, burgers and a midwest favorite pork tenderloin sandwich. There are always plenty of free Ritz Crackers and Castle Inn's famous garlic cheese which is also for sale.
Avanti's is the reason I get homesick. In high school I went every single Friday, for pasta before a cross country or track meet. And now, it's the first place I go every time I come home! Their house salad dressing is amazing, a sweet creamy Italian. The bread is to DIE for - usually when I leave to go back to school, I buy a loaf carry-out - for less than a dollar! It's so affordable, you can get the pizza bread (which is excellent) for TWO DOLLARS, and most meals coming with salad and bread are less than $10. Service is quick, and you can dine in, carry out, or have it delivered. Quite possibly the best restaurant EVER - and you can only find it in Peoria!
Favorite Dish: Everyone seems to have something they order every time. For my little brother, it's the Italian Beef with Mozzerella. My signature meal is the small tortellini - their meat sauce is excellent, especially to dip the bread in when you're finished! They also have a bottomless spaghetti special one weeknight every week...can't remember which. But it too is awesome!
There's something about an independent coffee shop/cafe in a college town that has its own aura, and One World is like that. While I was at school, I would go here regularly for chai tea, coffee, and the occasional meal. The meals themselves were a little pricey for a college student, and usually served VERY slowly, but they were unusual creations, and they always had plenty of veggie options, including soup.
My main complaint about One World was that, even though there was technically a non-smoking section, the one big dining room negated the effect of this technicality. So my coat would always smell like smoke after I left. They need to work on that if it hasn't changed already. :)
The servers here are very...bohemian. :) But always friendly and knowledgeable about the menu. The music is a little loud, but it's part of the atmosphere, as is the frequent live music by local bands.
Favorite Dish: Chai tea, and their blueberry Mountain Dew! That's right, they mix blueberry syrup into Mountain Dew, and it's an unbelievable combination that always makes me nostalgic about my college years whenever I think about it. :)
I first discovered Avanti's as a Freshman at Bradley University back in 1970. It was very convenient to campus (about 100 steps from my room) and made a great alternative when you got tired of the same old dorm food.
The 3rd picture actually shows the dorm where I lived for 3 of my 4 years at Bradley (Harper Hall) and the small building that you see in front of the dorm is where the original Avanti's was until they moved across the street to their current location.
Favorite Dish: The Gondola Sandwich has always been my favorite. See me enjoy a gondola here. I will always stop in at one of the Avanti's in Peoria when I get back into town. There are 3 restaurants in Peoria, 1 in East Peoria and 2 in the Bloomington-Normal area which are convenient if you are driving to or from St Louis off of Interstate 55.
The Gondola Sandwich was under $2 when I was in school although it is now in the $5 - $6 range now. The sandwich consists of their sweet bread (which makes the sandwich memorable), ham, american cheese, salami, lettuce, tomato and salad dressing (not mayo). It is a foot long although you can get a 6 inch version.
You can also order just a loaf of break with butter (we did that often as college students). They also have a variety of other Italian dishes.
The Spotted Cow started as an ice cream store, but now it also has a small food menu. Ice Cream is made right there and is sold by weight. My single scoop cup of Ginger Cinnamon ice cream cost about $1.13!
The owner is a long-time Lebanese resident of Peoria, full of energy and very personable. He also makes great stuff!
The restaurant is full of cow memorabilia as well as a White Sox shrine as the local minor league team is a Sox feeder.
Favorite Dish: Try the Ginger-Cinnamon ice cream. I wasn't going to have any, but I was intrigued. The flavors were subtle, but there. The ginger did not overwhelm the cinnamon, which was, in wine parlance the "top note."
Avanti's is a Central Illinois Italian Resturant. They have GREAT food at very reasonable prices!
Favorite Dish: I like everything they have (manitcotti, pizza, etc.), but I especially like the bread. If you can't eat in the resturant, at least order some bread for take out.
We ate in the River Station restaurant. It located on the river in a converted rail station. The decor was sort of Victorian South and was very cosy. The waitress brought our salad bar to the table and made the salad on the spot - a nice way of doing this. We were seated in a conservatory with lots of brick, glass and plants. The bar had very high ceilings and stained glass.
Favorite Dish: The menu was fairly limited but we still found something. The portions were way too big for us.
Dad ordered the smallest portion of prime rib and it was huge, GF had the sirloin steak and thought the portion was just right and I had chicken with mushroom and peppercorn sauce.
We could not eat appetisers or desserts.
Avanti's has several locations, the closest to me being the one by Bradley University. This restaurant is especially great for students because it is great food at a great price. On Tuesdays they even have an all-you-can-eat spaghetti special for under $5. I especially recommend the bread (it comes with any pasta meal, and some other meals as well), the linguine alfredo, and their turkey gondola (sandwich) with the 'special turkey sauce'. Sometimes there is a line to eat, as the restaurant is not very big, but you typically are served very quickly. At most times, you can easily be in and out within half an hour, but they don't rush you if you want to sit and chat for awhile either.
Favorite Dish: Linguine Alfredo--Avanti's has my favorite alfredo sauce. It's creamy and supposedly made from gravy, but it is so good, it's addicting!
The bread is also great too. They bake it fresh each day, it's a little sweet.
This restaurant has an Australian theme to it, but it's a little different from the Outback Steakhouse. It is decorated in an Outback theme, and there are several TVs, usually playing whatever sport is in season. The service you receive at Ned Kelly's is always amazing. Even the hosts are typically very friendly, and I haven't had a bad experience with a server there yet. Although it's a steakhouse, I have to admit, I never order the steak. My boyfriend loves it, it's one of his favorites, but I am too addicted to their chicken ceasar salad to even try anything else. Their skillet cookie makes an excellent dessert--a large, warm cookie, with an ice cream sundae on top.
Tip: Go to their website after visiting to fill out a comment card, and they will send you a coupon for a free skillet cookie!
Favorite Dish: Chicken Ceasar Salad--Ned Kelly's has the best ceasar salad I have ever had. Some nights it's better than others, but I'm never disappointed. This is a HUGE portion, I can never finish it all.
If you are looking for a fine dining experience with great punctual service, knowledgable staff and excellent hot food, you do not want to try "Jill's on Galena".
Order your meat rare, it will be medium by the time you get it, as it was clearly paced under a heat lamp while she prepared other dishes.
To top it off, the atmosphere feel's like a nursing home dining room with elevator music wafting through the air.
Favorite Dish: Dessert - Creme Brulee was very good.
Peoria isn't known for it's fine dining, but Ponte Vecchio is the exception. It's an intimate Italian place with great service and quality food; it also has a decent wine list. Ponte Vecchio is among the best restaurants in Peoria, and is perfect for special occasions. We celebrated my college graduation here.