Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Blue Duck BBQ Tavern

The latest restaurant to take up some space in the River Station Building is the Blue Duck BBQ Tavern.  If you enter through the main entrance on Water Street, it is the small space past Martinis on the right.  My D.A. and I showed up around 6:45 to a pretty full house.  We were seated almost immediately in one of the few remaining booths.  They have quite the selection of draft beers including one from the Peoria Brewing Company. This was my selection.

As for the menu, if you don't like smoked foods you better go eat at Joes or somewhere because this joint is heavy handed at it.  Fine by me, but I think my D.A. wasn't quite as thrilled.

I started with the appetizer portion of 4 smoked and grilled chicken wings glazed with an Asian inspired BBQ sauce.  These were full wings, including the tips, not cut up "Buffalo style".  It came with a choice of blue cheese dressing or red pepper aioli; I didn't specify and the aioli showed up.  Didn't think it complemented the wings well.  Don't know if the blue cheese would have been better.  But I'm not much of a "wing dipper", so it didn't matter.  Anyway, lightly smoked and slightly crispy...great combo.  The Asian sauce was just barely there and added a good flavor to the wings.  Loved this.

I had the Bahn Mi which is their brisket with the aforementioned Asian BBQ Sauce, topped with pickled vegetables, jalapenos, cilantro and the red pepper aioli.  I thought the sandwich very flavorful but they must use the mildest jalapenos on the planet as I didn't experience any burn.  It came with a choice of side and I picked the grilled bacon potato salad.  Served warm, it wasn't like a normal creamy style potato salad, in fact nothing creamy at all...warm grilled cubes of potatoes tossed with bacon and a few other ingredients.  Nothing really wrong with it, but not what I was expecting.

My D.A. had the pulled pork BBQ sandwich with the house cut fries.  We a had a bit of a snafu here....the coleslaw is normally served on the sandwich, a request was made for it to be on the side.  It was on the sandwich.  Lots of apologies from several staff members with the offer to make a whole new sandwich.  My D.A. scraped it off and called it a day.  Really liked the pork and the fries.  It came with a side of BBQ sauce.  This was slightly unusual.  If I write what I thought it tasted like, you'd probably request Sweet Baby Rays or some other commercial tomato based slathering.  Try it.  I'm sure it will be a "to each their own" sort of thing.

There are a few things I want to try, so I see myself perched at their bar, chowing on some ribs while putting a dent in their bourbon selection.

See You Around The Table......











peoria.com

Monday, April 20, 2015

I'm baaaaack! El Solazo

So, I've been asked a bit lately if I'm ever going to do restaurant reviews again.  I got away from it for a few reasons, but have been tinkering with the idea of doing them again.  Sooooo......without further ado....

El Solazo is a new (to me as I don't know how long it has been there) Mexican restaurant in the North Valley....specifically in the old Steak & Shake building at the corner of Spitznagle and Adams almost across the street from Peoria Charter Co.  It has been several restaurants, a car dealership and Lord knows what else.

I go in and look at a menu board on the wall...usual things except they do offer tongue in several of their taco, burrito, etc. offerings.  I was disappointed that this was all they offered (tacos, burritos, enchiladas, sopas and a few other things) when the owner type guy says "here, I have a menu".  Great.

Lots of interesting things here...more like it.  And it caught my eye:  Pollo Mole Poblano.  And they were out of Mole.  Well, that stinks except that means they aren't emptying it out of a can.  So, I decide on a Bisteca dish.  I'm bad enough with Spanish let alone words that have a ton of letters.  Should have written it down.  Oh, well, ask for one that has a lot of sauteed onions in it.

I got a grapefruit soda out of the cooler and he opened it for me.  Just like a Sam Adams, none of that twist top stuff.  I sit down and a younger fellow brings me some chips and salsas.  The chips are sort of small and dense...good they won't break off in the salsas.  Two salsas, green and red.  Both are fairly smooth.  The red is reminiscent of enchilada sauce...darkish red with some heat and didn't taste over tomato-y.  The green was tomatillo based...had some cilantro and either bits of green onion or green chile...not sure...the stuff was pretty smooth.  And it had some heat that most likely wasn't from either of those.

Dinner:  Thinly sliced pieces of beef.  My guess sirloin or round...not tender, not chewy with nicely browned sliced onions.  Served with run of the mill rice and beans.  Still yearn for the beans at Walt Dos.  If you missed that place on Westmoreland, ya missed some seriously good refried beans.  Now on the plate was the standard shredded lettuce, but topped with a slice of tomato, peeled and sliced cucumbers, sliced radish and onion, quartered limes and (get this) a scored, steamed and peeled whole Jalapeno pepper!  Niiiiiice.  Let us not forget the little tin foil wrapped tortillas (that look suspiciously like they may be used to make the tortilla chips).

Tasty and filling.  I will be back as there are some things on the menu (besides the mole) that looked very interesting and you won't find at the more Americanized versions of Mexican restaurants in Peoria.

The sign says they "Siesta" on Monday, but they were open.  Rest of the week says 9am-8 pm.  Later on the weekend when I noticed they serve Menudo with red chiles.


Ok...the review is over.  If you would like to be a dining accomplice (loving known as a D.A.) leave me a comment saying so.  There are a few ground rules, but that is for later.  I'm not going to make this weekly (I don't think) because I still have my usual hangouts that I like to frequent.

See you around the table.....

Monday, July 14, 2014

Chef Kevin's Table

Yeah, it has been a heck of a long time since I posted here.  Actually, I had shut it down for awhile due to all the spam, etc. I was getting.  Anyway, thought I would revitalize it for an announcement.

On October 11, 2014, I and a few friends will be hosting an event called Chef Kevin's Table.  A four course dinner paired with four wines.  It will be held at From The Field Cooking School in Morton.

Here is a link to all the details:  http://chefkevincooks.com/?page_id=18

I've had a lot of requests to do this and have some people signed up and paid already even though it only hit Facebook an hour or so ago.  More advertising to come, so if you have an interest....

See You Around The Table.....





peoria.com

Friday, January 10, 2014

The new blog

Well, here it is, my new blog:  Livin' It Up In Hoodburbia

Don't know quite what to do with this blog.  It does get quite a few hits a day from people looking for things so I don't want to shut it down completely.  And I do have a selfish reason to keep it.  Yet, I don't want it to look like it is abandoned and unloved.

Decisions, Decisions.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

End of an era

As many other bloggers, I rarely post anymore.  Thusly, starting in a few days, I am going to take this blog down.  I hate going to a blog that hasn't had any posts in the last few weeks, months, years and don't want to be one of those bloggers.

However, it doesn't mean I'm going to stop blogging.

I started this blog for restaurant reviews and issues affecting the restaurant industry.  I have strayed from that intent and it just seems this blog is about everything but those things.  It just feels weird posting stuff sometimes and probably prevents me from doing so.

So, starting around January 1, look for my new blog.  I think I'm going to call it "Livin' It Up In Hoodburbia".

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Reeeeaaaalllyyyy.....

So, a week or so ago, I was sent a survey by The Peoria Chamber of Commerce asking if I was for or against the purchase of the water department and if it was in the best interest of the city.  Personally, I think we have much more pressing needs in this city than buying the water company (for lord knows how many millions).  So, of course I voted "NO".

Today, I get an e-mail with the results, which somehow do not surprise me:

Question asked:Should the City Council engage in the due diligence process to identify the benefits versus the challenges to determine if purchasing the water company is in the best interest of our City?
 
YES or NO
 
Chamber of Commerce Audience: A distribution list was created utilizing all company representatives listed in the Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce database representing 4800 email addresses. 
 
YES:226 50%   
NO:172  38%  
Abstain 3 (Personally, I don't remember seeing the Abstain option)   
 
And is my math wrong or doesn't this equal 100%?
 
Total Responses:450 which is 9% of distribution
 
CEO COUNCIL Audience: A distribution list of 69 leading companies.
YES: 26   66%
NO: 11   28%
Abstain 2
 
Total Responses: 39  52% of distribution
 
 
Hmmm...guess once again, I'm in the minority.  It would be interesting to view the responses via zip code and council district.
 
I think more of the mover and shakers, city council members, etc. need to spend a little more time at a Westmoreland, E. Thrush, E. Kansas or W. Proctor address and I think their views of what this city needs would dramatically change.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Such A Sweet Deal

Congratulations!!  You are in the market for a newer car.  Let me show you some options.

Choice A.  3 years old, low miles, great gas mileage, one owner, all records of scheduled maintenance for $268 a month.

Choice B.  Same model, but 5 years old, high mileage, nice dent, lots of service issues, bald tires and no record of when the last time the oil was changed.  All for $316 a month.

Hmmmm.... which one will you choose?  But WAIT!!  There is more!  Choice A gets you free oil changes!!  Now, which one will you choose?  Of course, Choice A. 

Oh, sorry, but you can't have choice A.  The government says you have to have Choice B.  Not only do you have to have Choice B, but you will be fined if you don't.

Yeah, you got me; I'm not talking about cars.  I'm referring to the mandated health insurance.  Yep, the first amount is my current policy which includes dental and vision.  The cheapest policy I can buy ($316) Jan. 1 does not and will cost extra.  The new insurance almost triples my deductible and slightly more than doubles my maximum out of pocket expense.  Such a sweet deal

And this folks, is "The Affordable Healthcare Act".  It is an act alright that should be exited stage right..

And it also occurred to me that the people who named this, designed it, put it into motion are either in, or are far closer to the 1% we all despise, than most of us.  I guess they can consider, and call it affordable because they make more in a year than most of make in 10.  They can raise more money for their (re)election campaign than most of us will ever see.  So, to them "affordable".

Somehow, I think this is all fucked up.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

It Was An Awesome Day To Say The Least.

I've cooked for my fair share of banquets.  Most I can honestly say I was happy with the product I presented.  It is rare that I'm ever ecstatic.  However, last Saturday night I was.  The food, while not Michelin three star quality, was the best it could be for the simple preparations involved.  And that is good.  I'm kind of out of the whole pretentious food thing...simple, but done well, is usually better, anyway.  And while most of my staff won't see this, I thank them again for their efforts.

I'm not bragging.  I rarely do.  But this wedding reception had a guest unbeknown to me who has won some accolades in my profession...on the Food Network.  I knew the groom's father was a Chicago area Chef, but I had no idea he was Kevin Molidor.  He and his team won a Food Network Challenge for carving fruits and vegetables several years ago.  You can check his work out here:.http://southtownstar.mycapture.com/mycapture/folder.asp?event=486825&CategoryID=37110&ListSubAlbums=0  He also has a successful catering business (and one of the reasons my webpage is chefkevincooks.com as he owns one of the chefkev(in) domains).
 
Chef Molidor's only regret of the evening is that he really wanted to cater his son's wedding, but claimed afterwards that we really knocked it out of the park and he (and the bride's father) joined part of my team for an after work toast of single cask bourbon.

But here is the coolest part:  Chef Kevin Molidor gave me this:





How unbelievable f-in' cool is this?!?!  I'm still beside myself!  I giggle like a small child getting a new toy every time I look at it.  He has one and said I needed to have the other.  They used to be on one of his catering vans.  But I messed up and should of had our picture taken together.

Chef Kevins simply rock!!!

Monday, July 15, 2013

George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin

I've read many blogs, news reports, Facebook posts and the like about the verdict surrounding the Zimmerman/Martin case.  As one Facebook post said:  It is amazing how millions of people got their law degrees overnight.  There are all sorts of quotes, etc. out there.  But the one that got me was (and I wish I could find it again) was to the effect of "the real tragedy of the Zimmerman/Martin case is that this is what America is becoming".  I thought about that for awhile and it is true.

I'm going to back up to a few years ago.  I came home from work one day and my now ex-neighbor Mike informs me that he chased a half dozen pre-teen/teen agers off my back yard who were messing with my landscaping and throwing rocks in my pond.  Initially, according to him, they just yelled expletives at him until he got loud with them, got out his cell and threatened to call the police.  (I'm going to stop here for a second and say if I got caught doing this at 13 years old, my ass would still be hurting for the spanking a would have got, would have had to mow the person's yard all summer and be grounded for the next month).  No respect for my property and no respect for an adult telling them to leave.

How many George Zimmerman's are there?  Why do we need them?  Why do we need civilian "police officers"?  Why do we need our neighbors like Mike to risk themselves throwing kids off of other people's property?  What if one of these kids decided to throw rocks, pull a knife or gun and "show Mike a thing or two"?  WTF is wrong with us?

I know now, there are some people looking for the comment section to rip me a new one.  Yes, I know Trayvon Martin wasn't doing anything wrong as far as we know.  There shouldn't have been an altercation.  I'm certainly not going to call Martin "the criminal element" as I have no proof of that.  What I am saying is that because our neighborhoods don't feel safe, we resort to the George Zimmermans because we don't feel the police are doing enough.  And not to condone what Zimmerman did, but I do feel he was probably doing what he thought he should be doing and what the neighborhood association wanted him to do...until he got his ass kicked.

Ask any Peoria resident who lives in the North Valley, East Bluff or South Side if they feel safe taking a walk after dark in their neighborhood.  I'm sure the resounding response is "NO!"  It shouldn't be this way.  We shouldn't be afraid to take a walk.  We huddle in our houses afraid that going out on our front porch could get us shot. We are afraid of our houses getting broken into, beatings, knifings, shooting, robberies, etc. so we elect "George Zimmerman" to help eyeball "the bad guys".

I also read that this verdict will increase the amount of people who will go on the offensive and there will be more people facing Trayvon Martin's fate.  On the other side of the coin, I fear that if the verdict was "guilty", we'd have less people willing to defend themselves and less people like Zimmerman willing to be a look-out.  Facebook has been loaded with the case of the Florida woman who got 20 years for just firing warning shots to ward off her abusive ex-husband whom she had a restraining order against and he had busted into her home.  If there were a guilty verdict for Zimmerman combined with this case, who'd want to defend themselves?

Unfortunately, Zimmerman and Martin are just pawns in a game of what our society has become and the game ended up badly.  You may say "not for Zimmerman", but I don't think Zimmerman has seen the worst of it yet.  Yet, in the meantime, I wonder what the guy taking his place in his community, wandering streets, looking for anything or anyone out of place, is thinking.

We, as a society, need to end the causes that find us feeling the need to have the George Zimmermans of the world cruising our streets so we don't end up with any more Trayvon Martins. 

In closing, of all people, I'm going to paraphrase Ted Nugent (and this was probably the only good part of the interview):  If everyone would conduct themselves in a responsible, civil manner, everything would be just fine. Yeah, Ted, that is true.  But why don't we?

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Lookin' for something to do?




Friday, June 14: 

Willett’s Winery & Cellar 

Presents: 

Blues & BBQ 

5:00 PM – 10:00 PM 

The “B” Side Blues Band 
 Four long-time Central Illinois musicians (Rusty Hall, Dave Plunk, Joe Metzka, Tim Lee) who have come together and formed their own band covering the music of B.B. King, Jimi Hendrix, Bill Withers, 
Jonny Lang, Howlin’ Wolf, Stevie Ray Vaughan and others. 

The Ironstone Room starts serving at 5:00 PM, outside service begins at 
6:00 PM and the “B” Side Blues starts at 7:00 PM 

The Menu: 
Fruitwood smoked pulled BBQ Pork Sandwiches 
Hardwood smoked BBQ Ribs 
Hushpuppy breaded Chicken Strips 
BBQ Pork Nachos 
All Beef Hot Dogs 
Shrimp Po’ Boys 

NO COVER CHARGE!! 
No outside food or beverages 
We will move inside in case of inclement weather

Monday, June 03, 2013

Does Anyone Else Find This Disrespectful?

Your parent, sibling, spouse or child dies. You pick out a plot in the cemetery or maybe it has already been done. You lay your loved one to rest. A short time later, the headstone is installed. Then you find out thousands of people a year will be jogging, biking, babystrolling, hiking or walking past your loved ones final resting place. How do you feel? Personally, I'd be upset. Yet that is exactly what is happening in Springdale Cemetery when the park district and cities of Peoria & Peoria Heights finish the portions of the Kellar Branch later this year in efforts to create a supertrail extending from Morton to Toulon. I've never been a fan of the way the Kellar Branch of the old Rock Island Railroad was transformed into a trail. And while I am fully aware there are many people who use Springdale for exercise purpose on their own accord, running part of an approximate 55 mile trail through it is different story. I have loved ones buried in many different cemeteries around the area, and while visiting, not only haven't I witnessed people using the place for exercising purposes, I certainly haven't noticed a trail running through it. I've cycled many trails that have bridges higher and longer than the one on the old Kellar Branch that crosses US 150. I'm guessing that it would cost too much money to re-vamp it to make it usable? Yet there is money to tunnel under Knoxville Avenue. Conversely, we are left to our own devices to get across Adams Street. Not even a traffic light. Not that state has any extra money, but I think the park district and the cities of Peoria and Peoria Heights should continue to look for grants and other funding to run the trail along the original path of the Kellar branch and not through Springdale Cemetery.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Because I Can.

Over the past few months, I've been reading various articles and Facebook comments about how various Amendments to Constitution are outdated and need to be revised. I think the two that are discussed the most are the first and second. We all know these two: Freedom of Speech and The Right to Bear Arms. I just read another one and it has compelled me to blog. I'm not going to debate either. My question is why? Is it because they are archaic in modern day society? No, I don't think so. I think it is due to the total lack of respect, self discipline, morals, honor and decency. I say this because we have progressed beyond the wildest dreams of our forefathers. And the one thing that has multiplied exponentially is the "because I can" attitude. I'm sure our forefathers meant for amendments to be non infringe-able rights and never intended them to be an excuse or a free pass for the "because I can" mentality that is thrown around so haphazardly. Thusly, we need to pass laws or want to amend the Amendments because people can't govern themselves. So, then, where is the line? Who now says what is appropriate and what is not? As technology, etc. progresses faster and faster, if we change the amendments/laws now, will they be outdated in 10 years? As this is Memorial Day, I thank those, especially those I know, who have protected those rights. One may argue I have a blog and am a huge supporter of the second amendment, so I should STFU; that I'm abusing the same right that I'm complaining about. But I don't feel I have abused those rights with a defiant "because I can" attitude. I am not naive enough to think that people will revert back to the true/intended meanings of the Amendments, especially those that are constantly tried and meanings pushed. Yet I don't see where the government has the right, or good enough sense in some cases, to determine, in this day and age, what is right and fair. This is complicated and there are no easy answers. However, I will say, whatever does transpire, needs to be across the board: for citizens, the government, business, reporting, bloggers....the list is endless.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Pay Attention!

No, not you. Well, maybe you if you are doing this. I'm driving down Forrest Hill today through the East Bluff. For those who are unfamiliar with Peoria, it is a minor throughway through the city moving traffic mostly through residential areas. Not a small residential street, not a major route, either. Anyway, I'm traveling along at the 30 mph speed limit when I notice ahead a younger looking woman step out between two cars (dumbass maneuver 1) and start walking away from me. Her head was down and she appeared to be moving slowly. I edge over closer to the center lane and I observe her veering out in front of me still walking. I slow down and the veer gets worse; she is almost in the middle of the street. So, I gave the horn a tap. This startled her and she moved quickly back towards the edge. Then I see two things. The first, the reason for the veer: My guess she wasn't using that phone for a GPS. The second was the finger she flipped me. Really? A. Get your ass on the sidewalk. B. Walk TOWARD traffic is the law. C. Watch where the hell YOU are going. D. Go practice some proctology on yourself with that finger and then you can shove your phone there, too. Pretty soon all insurance companies will require you to have the braking system from a Bugatti Veyron installed on your vehicle to avoid lawsuits from running over errant texting pedestrians.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

What to do with the River Station Building

We have a new museum, and no, this isn't me bitching about it.  We have one of the coolest restaurants in Peoria with the Rhythm Kitchen.  The river itself.  A stunning bar in Martinis.  There is Kellehers, Rhodell's, Rizzi's, Beginets (Ok, and chains of Hooters and Joe's Crab Shack).

There needs to be something else....and I'm not talking about the Warehouse District.  Heck, there are still several buildings along Water Street that are vacant and we are starting something else?  That is for another blog post.

The Riverstation Building.  What a shame.  It, for one reason or another, can't hold restaurants anymore.  Personally, I think the overhead in such a large, old building has to be staggering which would take a huge amount of the profits away.  But it sits.  What an attraction it could be.  But for what?

Over the summer months, people FLOCK to the Riverfront Farmers Market.  I've been there when it is almost hard to get around.  And this is what I see for the Riverstation Building:  And indoor market.

Check out Washington DC's Eastern Market http://www.easternmarket-dc.org/ or Indianapolis' City Market http://www.indycm.com/  Local vendors, businesses, artists, etc.  And I'm not saying the whole thing (minus Martinis) unless it could warrant it.  In the warm months, sell monthly outside space.  In the summer, if space allows, move the Riverfront Market inside during bad weather.

If I'm not mistaken, the COP owns it.  Seriously, they have put money into far riskier ventures.  Charge enough rent to cover the utilities until it could hold its own financially.  Give financial incentives to longer lessees.  Charge a bit more for short term or monthly spaces.

It would be an attraction.  It would draw people to the Riverfront.  It would provide shopping for downtown and riverfront residents, current or future, a place to shop and not have to hop across the river or to ??? in Peoria.

Really Peoria, could it be a worse financial decision than Globe, Midtown, Gateway and several other bad, money losing fiascoes this city has financed?

Seriously, take a look at the above two links.  Understand that these are far larger cities than Peoria and I'm not suggesting anything of these places magnitude.

Come on' Peoria, you know you want to.....

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Wine, Art, Jazz & Balloon Festival 2013




The 5th annual Wine, Art, Balloon & Jazz (and food) Festival will be held from 12PM - 8PM at Manito's Memorial Park on Saturday ay 25, 2013.  Currently, there are going to be 12 Illinois wineries, artists displaying several different mediums of creativity, three jazz acts (Joe Metzka & Friends, Kevin Hart & The Vibe Tribe and David Hoffman (who was the trumpet player for Ray Charles) & Friends).  There are several hot air balloonist on board and we are waiting to hear back from others.  Food will be available from several different restaurants and caterers.  $10 admission gets you a souvenir wine glass and 5 tasting tickets.  You can buy additional tasting tickets or bottles of wine directly from the wineries.