Arthur Bryants Kansas City BBQ

Holy Smokes!  (Bad BBQ pun?)  Sometimes you stumble on something so special that you start to wonder how many other places you are missing out on!  Unique family owned or started eateries probably number in the millions across the US.

Perfect example.  Arthur Bryant’s BBQ in Kansas City Mo.  (Stolen photo above, ignore the date) The place has been around for 50 years…  Probably served a million people…  And I would have had no clue it existed if it had not been for a review on the Urban Spoon iPhone application. 

Lets back up.  On our family trip back from Denver, we had planned on stopping and spending the night in Kansas City Mo.  We knew we wanted some Kansas City BBQ…  And I also wanted to hit a brewpub if possible.   Well, we are talking about Kansas here…  Part of the craft beer wasteland that is the Midwest!  After using the “Find Craft Beer” app… The brewery and brewpub selection was not much to speak of.  Boulevard, the biggest brewery in the area does not serve food.  Beer themed dining was looking like a washout.

 It was decided that BBQ would be the better direction to lean, and if the establishment had decent beer…  That would be a plus! 

 
Outside the resturant of Arthur Bryants in Kansas City MO

Let me be REAL upfront here and say that we were a little worried about the neighborhood surrounding the restaurant.  The “HUD” was literally down a block…  They had a security guard walking the parking lot…  And I could see the boyz cruising the neighborhood with rims twice the size as those on my Swaggerwagon.

Margaret and I said, “What the Hell”…  If the kids are gonna get some culture… It might as well be KC just as it might be Rome!  Get out and try out the local flavor!  So, we got of the car… And I checked twice to make sure it was locked!

To be fair… There was no threat to my life here.  It was a Monday afternoon… The place was full…  And it was smelling like Heaven on Earth outside.  How can crime be inflicted in the presences of smells like this?

We got in cue for the order process a few seconds after walking through the door…  I determined very quickly that we better have our crap together before they go to us at the order window.

“Watta ya have” was being yelled at every customer who walked up the “chefs” at the order window.  Then it was: Bing Bang Boom…   Dinner served on a plate and at the cashier within a minute.

Oh man!  This menu looks so simple… But complicated! 

“Watta ya have”

Crap!!!  Fortunately they were talking to the folks in front of me.  But to make matters worse…  Evern plate that is walking past me looks nothing like what I am expecting on the menu.  WHAT TO GET!!!!

“Watta ya have”

Uhhhhh…. 

Margaret ordered first…  Some kind of pulled pork open face sandwich.  That’s pretty safe…  No biggie.  This kids ordered a ham sandwich… Not knowing it might the most awesome smoked ham they might have in their entire life… Not just their short life till now!  I got crazy and ordered the Pork Ribs… Short End.  Not even knowing what the difference was!  “Watta ya have” was in my face now…. And I was in near panic mode!  “Short Ribs”, I blurted out. 

Dammit… I hope I did OK.  Did I look like a moron noob???  I’m sure to them I did.  As a saving grace.   At the end of the order line they had 2 beers on draft.  1 was Miller lite, the other was Boulevard Pale Ale.  Ahhhhh…. Something I didn’t look like a moron ordering!  “I’ll take a Pale Ale” I proclaimed with confidence. 

Rib tip sandwich with a Boulevard Pale Ale

The food was amazing.  My ribs were perfectly cooked.  As I mentioned above, the kids had amazing smoked ham on a sandwich split between the two of them.  Margaret’s pulled pork was tasty… And a generous portion.  I drenched a corner of my plate in some of the Arthur Bryant KC sauce.  It was dry and bitter.  Nothing sugary or sweet about it.  I rolled every rib with a dose of the Bryant sauce.   After polishing off those ribs, some extra greasy fries and that pale ale… I was done!  I saw that everyone else was feeling the same way.  “Blowed out!”

Totally satisfied!  Totally worth the stop!  If you are in KC… You would be insane not to stop and getta a dose of “Watta ya have?”

Iron Maiden – The Final Frontier

The Final Frontier

Well, the new Iron Maiden is finally out. Opinions on this one run the gamut from the most uninspired piece of shit they’ve ever put out to it being the one of their best albums ever. As usual, the truth is somewhere in the middle. I think it’s the best album they’ve put out since Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t without its flaws.

Now in terms of loving Iron Maiden I’m like a fatherless 16 year old girl from a New Jersey trailer park at a Motley Crue show in 1988. They have been a part of my musical landscape since early childhood. I still remember the feeling of pure occult awe the first time I saw a cassette of Live After Death as a kid. Brother Chump’s Somewhere in Time and Seventh Son posters were always around too. Really though, I never truly understood their music, or developed the full on, man-tastic, love I have for them until after Bruce rejoined the band and A Brave New World came out. I think that helps me take a broader view of what I like about Maiden then some old timers though.

Manager Rod Smallwood once made it a point to say that Maiden makes 45 minutes of awesome music per album. If Iron Maiden kept the mindset that they would limit themselves to that amount of music per album, I firmly believe that the last few albums would be seen just as fitting of being legendary as the early ones. With the rise of the compact came the urge to fill it though, and with it a slight watering down of the sheer brilliance the band is capable of at their best.

The band pulls one complete dick move right at the onset that has to be addressed. Don’t you fucking ever make a goddamn 4 and ½ minute intro on the same track with one of the best songs on the album!!! Track 1 is officially Satellite 15 and The Final Frontier together. Satellite 15 is just a long intro that will be cool for getting people to freak out at live shows. Why the fuck would you make me have to listen to that shit every time I want to hear the fucking song though??? None one give a shit about the intro, on almost any album, ever. Fuck off!!!

Okay then. Like said trailer bitch now that I’ve tossed my Smirnoff ice bottle at my man, and tried to emasculate him in front of his friends, I can get back to lovin’ him. After waiting forever, and the last four years of music geek lust building up is threatening to drive you crazy, the Final Frontier breaks in with a big, catchy rock riff. This thing was written to rock arenas and will rock your car just as hard. The song is one of the shortest at around 4 ½ minutes, but is heartfelt, epic, has giant hooks, and features Bruce’s voice well in the simple but impossible to get our of your head chorus of “The Final Frontier” repeated a whole big bunch of times.

After making you wait forever to get to that new song, then blowing the doors off, they make sure to let you know, “Hey baby, that was cool, but I’m not THAT into you.” The next few songs aren’t bad but aren’t spectacular either. The first single El Dorado is actually a pretty killer track, if a little self-conscious at moments. Mother of Mercy is kind of cool, but kind of plods at the same time. The voice Bruce chooses to use for the chorus is a little too close to the sounds probably made the dying soldier Bruce is singing about. That track seems to bother people the most. Coming Home is Bruce’s ballad to flying. It’s kind of sappy, and it’s not a bad song, but instead of having an epic feeling of how awesome coming home from a flight is, I think about what Iron Maiden’s kids think about that song. “Dad, while you were away playing rock star, everyone had to hear the story about how Mom was crawling through bathroom windows to blow Nikki Sixx. Fuck you Dad and your plane. I just wanted to you to come to a fucking soccer game, but you couldn’t fly in for that could you, fuckface?”

From there the album actually takes off. The Alchemist could have come from the 80’s. No doubt it’s an immediate Maiden classic. Isle of Avalon isn’t always great, and they do the long intro thing way too much on it, but it has a fantastic chorus. Starblind is fairly progressive for them. It has a really cool, kind of odd main riff, and a nice section played in 7/7 time as a bridge. It’s gets a little wonky at one point where it sounds like the song suddenly dies, but they manage to pick it up and keep playing the verse and chorus another time and pull it out. The Talisman is awesome, again with another long intro but the song may feature Bruce’s best work on the album. After some more intro storytelling, (noticing a theme) The Man Who Would Be King is one of the best Maiden songs ever. It’s everything the band has always done well, but they throw a very space rock, very transcendent sounding section that really shows the band still has a few tricks up its sleeves. I’ll pit that song against anything else in their catalogue. If they play that live the next time I see them my panties are flying towards the stage. When the Wild Wind Blows is almost a poppy track about the end of the world to close things out, but does it need to be 11 minutes? A lot of people are talking about how this track is amazing, but I’m not in that group. It’s probably the least distinctive track on the whole album. It’s not annoying but instantly forgettable.

So here’s the problem with the second half of the album. It’s like this. Everyday I come home from work, I wish the moment I opened the door Thus Spoke Zarathrustra would boom from the speakers, the cat would obediently rub his head on my leg before going to sleep, and my fiancé would have an IPA and sandwich ready for me. It would be pretty epic. Eventually, though, you may say “Honey, could I get a stout today, or how about some Lucky Charms instead of sandwich today?” These ridiculously long intro parts just don’t need to be on most of these songs. Not every track needs to be Rime of the Ancient Mariner, and they shouldn’t be. Every once in awhile there’s nice foreplay, but eventually all this playing around is just a chore when you want to get down to the business in the back of a rusted Z28 real quick before the show.

So what does this all add up to? The problem of figuring out what to say about this album comes from the fact that the view from the heights of this album are breathtaking, but sometimes you need a team of sherpas to get you there. When Maiden is on top of it’s game no other band can touch them. When Bruce really opens his pipes and it sounds like the cosmos itself is reverberating with his vocal chords, I’ll wade through 5 minutes of intro to hear it. What does it say about a band that when they suck they are still better than almost all the other music you can get your hands on? For all its’ faults I still love this album and still think it’s full of brilliance. Iron Maiden seems to channel a power greater than the band itself when they hit things in stride. Something I like about this album too is that every song is memorable and distinct, a quality lacking on the last few albums.

Just remember to compare this album to the output of other mortal bands rather than to what you think of other Iron Maiden albums.

4 out of 5 IBU’s

Odell Brewing Co. Cutthroat Porter

Whenever I head out of town… I like to effort some new beer purchases for the Beer Report Cellars.  Inevitably I end up with far more than we can drink on shows!  So, its ideal that we have this new forum to share some of the other beers we drink off the air!

Tonight, after driving home from Denver…  I am happy to try some Odell Brewing beer.  They are from Fort Collins Colorado.  I can get a ton of Colorado Beers here.  But have not seen Odell on the local racks yet.

 

Wow… Smooth!  It seems like most of the American Porters I have been getting lately have been gung ho on roast, bitterness or smoke.  This beer, even not very chilled, is smooth like milk!  I love that.  The extreme beer drinkier might say that is some kind of flavor weakness… But I would say that balance has a much greater value for good beers.  This beer is balanced… It is warm and inviting.  Flavorful.  Fresh and clean tasting.   A little thick like a porter should be. 

Overall a great drinker.  Cheers to Odell Brewing.

Rating… Using CHUD’s new scale 3.5 IBU’s.

Dinner at Biaggi’s


A.B. and I just got back from having a pretty killer meal at Biaggi’s restaurant in Bloomington. I find the place fascinating to some degree. It’s an Italian chain that actually started in Bloomington, which quite frankly doesn’t seem possible due to the general level of quality. This place is what Olive Garden commercials would have you believe that fetid bowl of lukewarm disappointment is supposed to be. Really, have you ever gone to the Olive Garden and not been left with a lingering sense of anxiety and sadness because you want to believe you had a good meal, but no matter how strong your desire to lie to yourself and agree with the marketing is you can’t overcome the plain fact that everything besides the salad and breadsticks sucked? No, you can’t, so let’s move on.

While it’s a chain, it’s a relatively upscale chain in atmosphere. The decorations seem to mainly consist of framed old maps and glazed ceramic folk art give the place a decent feel. There are nice looking hardwood floors, and a large fireplace in the middle of the room. The only issue I would have is that the place is louder than hell. After you’ve stuffed yourself into a state of compulsory walrus imitation there is a vague feeling of sensory overload. You also get the feeling you’re surrounded by the worst sort of yuppie douche bags, ex-jock businessmen, and their savage, pill popping, harpy wives. The niceness of the place seems to be the shining porch light for all those who have lifted themselves out of economic poverty, but are still living in a rotten ghetto of the soul populated with the bitterness of repressed individuality, TV’s tuned into Fox News, and fat old men in pastel polo shirts and khaki shorts that make you want to eat your eyeballs as an appetizer. The bar looks like a prime stalking ground if you’re looking for a lonely cougar to buy you some drinks though, so there’s a social plus. I may be wrong on that though and cannot test my theory due to my soon to be betrothed social status.

Our waitress was fantastic and was well versed in the ingredients and flavors of various options on the menu. You can usually tell when the wait staff is just blurting out whatever the chef told them to say at some kind of pre-shift meeting. She seemed to genuinely know what she was talking about and was very friendly, prompt, and took care of things quickly, even though it the place was pretty packed and bustling for a Wednesday night.

We started off with the Carpaccio. How can you not order a plate of raw meat when you have the option? Not to mention if you’re really hungry when you show up, they have no excuse for not getting it to you quickly. The buttery raw meat was awesome with capers, onions, arugula, and slices of Parmigianno Reggiano cheese. As good as this was, whenever I’m eating raw meat I get jealous of cats and other predatory animals. Think about it for a minute. Being humans, we get to enjoy a vast range of flavors because people are made to eat lots of things, but I bet that jack of all trades nature of our being takes away some of the pleasure experienced by animals of a more specialized nature. Predators fucking LIVE just to eat raw meat, and it’s basically all they taste. I bet it’s unbelievably good and that’s the reason the four legg-ed death machine (my cat) freaks out when he gets of whiff of freshly disarticulated life in the kitchen. That bastard.

I ordered a pork shank that had supposedly been roasting all day with white beans and A.B. ordered spicy pasta with mussels, calamari, and scallops. I couldn’t tell you what the actual names of them were now, other than they sounded excitingly authentic enough you could pretend this is what food in Italy might actually taste like for an hour if you’ve never been there. I can’t speak for her food but mine was fantastic. I don’t think my Italian great grandmother ever cooked anything remotely like it, but the hominess of it took me back to being in her kitchen at eight years old. The ugly carpet, home made pizzelli cookies, garlic under the beds to keep away vampires, old metal fans you risked losing your fingers in, pictures of long dead family members from the war looking stern, hateful, and very, very, dead, the fact that her house was an old hospital, and of course decades old cans of Old Milwaukee Light she would give me when I started getting unruly… Her house was great for the most part, but what the hell is it with old people and sherbet? What the shit? They always have that green and orange block of industrialized nightmares tucked away in the freezer for years, waiting for the day they can finally bust it out for that special occasion when the family is over. By the time that extra special day comes around though, it’s got an inch deep layer of freezer burn, and tastes like baking soda blended with cremated rats and fruit roll ups the smelly kid in class let melt in their lunch box. Everyone in the room hates it; everyone is well aware it makes you want to brush your teeth with lye and steel wool, but everyone just smiles and pretends it’s okay because you know if don’t play along grandma will lock herself in the bedroom and bawl about how she somehow failed as the family matriarch for the last 60 years and we should just leaver her to die. Ah, sweet Catholicism, you bring so many gifts of guilt in so many strange ways, how could I ever repay you?

I had two pretty good glasses of wine with dinner. The first was Gnarly Head Old Vine Zinfandel. I don’t have much in the way of wine description skills, so I’ll describe it as old saddle leather with Old Spice dark, if Old Spice had a “dark”. I mean that in the most complimentary of ways. After that I had some surprisingly flowery tasting Shiraz from Australia. They were both good but it was like going from having a conversation with the roughneck John Wayne of wines to a goth Liberace, smoking clove cigarettes, ready to play some Vampire:The Masquerade, demanding you call him Madame Ravensflight in public, and wearing a corset bought at the medieval fair. It was a little jarring and honestly was a pretty bad wine choice to go with the pork. I’m still not well versed in what booze goes with what food though that’s something I would like to rectify.

To end everything A.B. ordered some raspberry sorbet and vanilla bean ice cream. There is no way I could describe her reaction to it without being nauseatingly lewd. One of the younger floor managers stopped over just to watch her eat a few bites and smile before moving on. I guess it was satisfactory.

After all that the bill came to $65, which considering what we had wasn’t out of line. It’s not a superb dining experience overall, the atmosphere doesn’t go that far and while the food is pretty good it’s not over the top. If you’re in the mood for some Italian food though you could do far, far worse, especially here in the Midwest. Sometimes it seems that to the indigenous inhabitants here flavor is the devil’s work and if the ingredients didn’t come out of a cardboard box or giant can it will not be tolerated, because eating food with flavor and authenticity means being a “pussy”.

Anyway, I promise that after this I will write something about beer. Expect a review of the new Iron Maiden coming up in a week too.

TBR Special Edition – Island Beer Show

Island Beer Show

Groucho went overseas and brought back some contra-band! All kinds of beer beverages from a brewery on the island. Also, we were lucky enough to have a Facebook fan, PJ, send us 3 beers from the Maui Brewing company. It all adds up to over 2 hours of recorded material. Fortunately Groucho used a chainsaw and ripped this thing down to about an hour! You’ll hear lots of pop tops between cuts!

Beers on the show: Malta, Lemon Piton Shandy, Piton & Rooster Select from the Windward and Leeward Brewery, St. Lucia. Maui Brewing Company’s Bikini Blonde Lager, Big Swell IPA and Coconut Porter.

On the show:

  • Whats a Malta? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malta_(soft_drink)
  • Molasses!
  • Reefer madness on the island!
  • 30% of Americans smoke dope? Beer Report fact machine is back at work!
  • German roadtrip?
  • Does Brahma still suck?
  • Rastafarian? The lost generation of great men?
  • Captain… Oh high my Captain? Groucho’s cracked rib? Naked old ladies! Captain passed out at the rudder.
  • Blended beer?
  • How did people end up on Hawaii
  • That’s not Don Ho!
  • Kevin got bad service at Maui Brewing???
  • Dog the Bounty Hunter… How hard is it to be a bounty hunter when you have 10 square miles to cover!?
  • Maui’s write up on why they use cans. Listen up!
  • CHUD doesn’t know his Jobim!
  • CHUD volunteers to run Maui Brewing’s mainland operations if they build in Bloomington IL.
  • The Honey Report?
  • Kill sequence initiated!

Beers on the show brought back from St. Lucia (Probably illegally!) and all the Maui Brewing beer sent to us from PJ! THANKS MAN!!!

Make sure to check out our new blog at thebeerreport.com! CHUD’s Metal reviews are not to be missed!

Download the show here:

Sacrilege – Behind the Realms of Madness

First up for the lost underground classic reviews is Sacrilege’s first full length Behind the Realms of Madness from 1985. This thing is a MONSTER! What kind of monster? Imagine all the crust your mom ever cut off your sandwiches as a kid formed into a band and decided to hate you for taking them away from their doughy insides, and now all they have left is hollowness and anger. I say that because much of the band was made up of members from hardcore legends The Varuker’s , who some consider the fathers of Crust. If you’re not familiar with Crust, it’s that crunchy blend of punk and metal that’s the aural equivalent of snorting a mountain of blow and tying yourself to the hood of a racecar. The CD version sounds like it was ripped from an LP. Another thing that makes this album really stand out is the vocals Lynda “Tam” Simpson. She was hot and her voice rocks. It’s feminine, but still a little rough, and all nut stomping bee-yatch. I’m sure there was a pile of pimply face, hopeless metal losers back in the day dreaming about how great it would be she thought they were cool. I’m not even sure you can still find the CD anywhere but one of the guys from the band is still selling LP’s from the U.K. as I write this.

The album starts off with Life Line, which is probably still one of the heaviest highest energy Crust tunes I’ve ever heard. It starts off with a greasy sounding high speed thrash riff and the absolutely explodes like into a metallic punk frenzy. Seriously, this song is like watching a nihilistic kindergarten class throw hand grenades into nursing homes. The youth are here cleanse the fucking Earth!!! Raaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrggggggghhhhhh!!!

Next up is Shadow from Mordor. This is a mid-paced chugger that is content to steadily beat you down but isn’t quite too excited about it. As one commenter on Youtube put it, “one does not simply thrash into Mordor.”

At Death’s Door up’s the speed a little but grooves harder. They take an extended break from vocals in the middle and just absolutely drive home a couple of crushing riffs that will make you put your face through your computer screen. That section totally makes this song a classic.

A Violation of Something Sacred brings back the punk fury with a little something that reminds me of Motorhead. It’s good but if there was one song on this that doesn’t quite stand out it would be this one. It’s kind of like the opener but just not with as much raw power.

The sound of a church bell starts The Closing Irony, an absolutely punishing chunky thrash song. This was made for head banging. It’s a weighty, meaty, rare steak of a track.

The whole closes out with Out of Sight, Out of Mind. This is a solid old school thrasher that just crackles with power.

At six tracks in 26 minutes this thing is short, sweet, and sheer thunder. What makes this release so classic is that there is a monolithic solidness, a weight behind everything going on that is captured perfectly, making the recording timeless. Buy the LP, dig it up on CD, or just check out the tracks on Youtube. You won’t be disappointed.

4 ½ out of 5 IBU’s

– CHUD

New Blog Intro + Cardiac Arrest Review

Q:What is best in life?

A: To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women!

Q: Okay, but besides the obvious?

A: Not hard to say. Beer, metal, food, and culture.

Those last four pinnacles of human achievement are the impetus for starting this new blog project. While The Beer Report has always been Groucho’s creative baby that I just get to show up and drink at, I wanted to make something to tie all my interests together. So, I convinced Groucho to give me a blog space and invited him to contribute as well. Thanks for putting this together for me brother.

As for content, this is still the beer report after all, so you will see pictures and reviews of beers I’m drinking when we aren’t doing the show. If I’m going to be drinking and sitting in front of a computer I might as well share it everyone, right? I’ll try and keep the fancy beer language to a minimum. Rather than discuss the differences between Noble and Cascade Hops I’ll try and keep it metaphorical and entertaining.

I will be upping the metal ante though and writing album reviews. There won’t be any restrictions on the style but you can expect to see mostly underground metal highlighted. As well as seeing reviews on new albums I’m digging, expect to see some nostalgic reviews of classic albums, and reports of musical archaeology as I dig up rarities, or albums I just plain missed decades ago.

This space will also be getting hit with anything else of interest, be it food, museum trips, book reviews, mythological speculation, Lovecraftian evocations, philosophical self flagellation, and the discussion of T-Shirt culture ethics in underground music scenes.

UP THE IPA’S!!!

No use wasting time so let’s get right into it. The first album up for review is Cardiac Arrest – Haven For The Insane. The band has been around since 1997 but have only recently become prolific. This is their third full length since 2006. It’s their first record for Ibex Moon Records which is run by John McEntee of Incantation. If you’re fan of old school death metal at all it’s a label you should be checking out.

The first thing that leaps out at you is that the guys in Cardiac Arrest love early death metal and play it the way I think it’s supposed to be played. Lots of underground bands these days are all noodles, weak sauce, and no meatballs. There’s no need to worry about that with this album. Yes there’s speed, but not for the sake of speed, and they have no problem taking big, mid paced, bloody, chunking riffs and riding them when necessary.

I’ve listened through this a few times and have come to the conclusion that this is the Donovan McNabb of death metal albums. By that I mean that the record is mostly great but slightly aggravating at times. It’s not because the album isn’t good. It’s that it flirts with greatness but just doesn’t quite reach the pinnacle. This is no doubt a killer death metal record and I recommend any fan of death metal to check these guys out, especially if you grew up on or like material from the early 90’s. There are a few details that trip it up at times though. The production is tinny. Not completely thin but just enough that you know it could be a little more powerful. On the other hand, the production does a great job at capturing the energy and aggression of the band, and they have those qualities in spades. This thing rips. While the album is mostly packed with killer riffs, there are a few that fall flat, or a few transitions here or there that just seem a little wonky. There are plenty of other riffs that are fantastic on the record, and the fact that the rest is so good it makes the bad moments really stand out. Maybe shaving a couple of tracks off the record may have just honed it down to extra sharpness.

I know this review may sound a little conflicted, but overall I wholeheartedly recommend checking these guys out. The good far outweighs the bad and I am really nitpicking this one fairly hard. I’ll be checking their older material soon.

3 ½ out of 5 IBU’s.

The Harvest Cafe. Craft Beer and Gourmet food in Delavan IL?

 A few years ago I had a brilliant trip abroad to the Eastern countryside of England…  The Cotswolds.  Every preconceived notion I had about England and food were shattered on that trip…  We walked between villages during the day and stopped at local pubs to grab a great beer and a bite.   At night…  These same pubs would turn their menu into a fine dining experience.  Great local beers and awesome local meat and produce all worked together to provide some of the best meals of my life!

I left the English countryside content that this type of establishment will never be reproduced in Central Illinois.  If its not all you can eat walleye or fried chicken… What chance could it have?

Bar5 years ago…  If you would have recommended a small Central Illinois town as a great place to have near gourmet food and craft beer… I would have laughed off this blog!

Then someone recommends this new restaurant in Delavan… The Harvest Cafe. 

Delavan is a small town tucked away off some country roads between Peoria and Springfield IL. Its one of the countless towns that dot the Central Illinois landscape with populations of under 2000 people. Communities this small usually pride themselves on whether they have a Casey’s General Store or not!

So, you can imagine my trepidation when I started hearing rumors of a great dining restaurant in Delavan.  No slam on the town… But, I was really expecting to hear about awesome fried chicken or some deep fried appetizer!

The Harvest Cafe is the latest addition to downtown Delavan.   A downtown, that like many small rural towns is struggling to keep vital and alive.

Best muscles in downstate Illinois?We snuck in for breakfast a few weeks ago…  Just to get an idea of what was going on.  To my pleasant surprise…  We were greeted by a beautifully restored exterior.  It would have made 1910 Delavan as proud as the 2010 population.  The interior is more modern, but had some classic touches to remind you that you are in an old building.

Breakfast turned out great.  I had some Cajun grits with shrimp.  Ang had some biscuits and gravy.  Summer was overloaded with 2 of the biggest pancakes she has ever seen in her life!  They were served with a side of amazingly flavorful sausage.

We asked for a dinner menu, just to get an idea of what might be in store if we came by later.  After checking the menu over… It was decided that a future dinner was probably in order. 

Breakfast for the family and grandmother was a healthy 40 bucks.  I was a little put off by the price for a breakfast.   But, if it were Bob Evans in Pekin… Would it have been any less?  Probably not.

Return Dinner Visit:

Ribs!Ang found it very ironic that we would be heading to Delavan for our anniversary dinner…  After all… We have made a habit of driving to more upscale establishments in Peoria and Bloomington over the years for that one evening a year without the kids.   Jonahs, The Fish House, Alexanders, Kobe etc are the normal haunts.

It was a Thursday night… So, I was not surprised to see that they had plenty of places to sit.  We grabbed a table off to the side and quickly ordered some beer and a Blue Moon mussel appetizer.    Holy smokes!  The mussels were a bargain for the portion, and had some kind of amazing lemon cream sauce.  I mean amazing!  Very nice.

MatildaThe beer on draft was Goose Island Matlida.  Yes, Matilda!  That’s something special when you see it on Kelleher’s epic tap list in Peoria.   The Matilda was served in a pint glass that was frosted.  I was half tempted to say something to the waitress… But she looked really young and I thought it might be more hassle to explain about the glassware than it was worth.  (Frosted glasses should be saved for the Bud and Miller drinkers.  Reducing the temp of a good craft beer actually takes away from the flavors and esters that make craft beer great)

PizzaFor dinner, the wife and I split a rack of ribs and one of the Italian themed pizza’s.  The ribs were already cut, so we didn’t get all messy eating them.  You could tell the ribs were slow cooked in some fashion, the menu was kinda vague on those details.  They were served with a splash of a spicy mustard and some homemade slaw.  Overall they were delicious.

The pizza was good.  The slices of prosciutto were generous and gave the “za” a little more flare.

I ordered the other Goose Island beer they had on draft, Pierre Jacques.  This time asking the waitress to hold the frosted mug.  Ahhhhh… That was much better.

Desert would have been overkill.  They had an offering of cobblers and pies that sounded great.  But we were already going to be taking food home as it was!

As we sat and picked at this mass of food…  We became more and more convinced on how needed this place was in a small town like Delavan. 

When the check arrived…  I had to do a double take.  We ate like royalty…  Ordered tremendous food and drinks… And were left with a very reasonable bill of 40 bucks.  Far less than our average on Anniversaries past.  You know, if we had gone to Peoria for this same dinner… It would have been 80.00 to 100.00 for the 2 of us. 

At this point… I am sold on going Delavan for some great food and drink.  Will we ever get to that point where every town has a “pub” like this?  I can only hope!  You see all these trends for folks eating more local and fresh food… It seems odd that areas like ours that are surrounded by it are the last ones to catch on! 

Cheers to The Harvest Cafe!  Its worth the trip!  Get down to Delavan!

Link:  http://harvestcafedelavan.com

Side notes:  First, let me just say that I am NOT a food critic by any stretch.  But I really felt that this is a place that should be shared and celebrated.   After seeing great places come and go over the years… You have to try and support the ones that are truly special. 

Plus: 

  • Plentiful and friendly staff.
  • Great beers on tap and in bottles.
  • Simple classic menu items.
  • Great atmosphere and style.

Minus: (I really had to dig to find much to complain about)

  • The mussels could have had a bit larger portion of bread.  But the appetizer price was so reasonable that I really cant complain.
  • Craft beer served in a frosty glass.
  • Not enough info on the menu about where the food is coming from locally.  Even a chalkboard on the wall or table card proclaiming where some items came from would bring the food full circle.

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