Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Blend

On a recent date we spent some time at The Blend in Washington.

Our overall rating was 4.33 Stars  (out of 5 stars).

Here's how that breaks down:

Family Friendly: 5 Stars  It seems like a fine place to take kids if you would want to.  They even have high chairs!

Food: 3.5 Stars  They have a pretty decent selection at The Blend.  But the cinnamon roll we ate was average at best.  

Coffee: 4.5 Stars  On this particular date we didn't get the coffee.  But the specialty drinks were quite good.  Any time we've gotten coffee it's been excellent.

Restrooms: N/A

Atmosphere: 4 Stars  For a newer building, this place has a great atmosphere.  We've been to coffee shops that feel like waiting rooms, and this is definitely not that: It's casual and comfortable. The in-house coffee mugs are glass, which is just cool.  The only knock is the line at the counter: There's really no place to step out of the way if someone's behind you and you haven't decided on your purchase yet.

Service: 5 Stars  Friendly and fast!

Ethical/Sustainable:  4 Stars  From what we can tell The Blend does a great job sourcing and roasting it's coffee beans.  

Pricing: Specialty drinks are $3-$5 depending on sizes.  Food items are in the $3 range.  A small coffee is $1.65.

The Blend on Urbanspoon

Thursday, December 6, 2012

One World Cafe

After visiting the new Peoria Riverfront Museum we headed up to One World Cafe for lunch time.  We had the whole crew with us, which is always quite an adventure.

Our overall rating was  4.5 Stars  (out of 5 stars).

Here's how that breaks down:

Family Friendly: 4 Stars  The staff was very accommodating.  The host set up our table perfectly with a high chair and booster seat.  We were even in a great little corner of the restaurant with not too many other guests around.  The main negative that prevents a 5 star rating is the location at the busy intersection of Main and University.  We've never been able to park close, which means juggling little kids and holding hands as you try to make it inside.

Menu:  5 Stars  The menu features a good variety without being overwhelming.  There are options for vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free needs.  The kids' menu is one of the best we've seen.  Even the "classic choices" have a healthy, from-scratch flair.

Taste of the Food: 5 Stars  We split a couple of pizzas between all of us.  Both the Classic Primo and BBQ Chicken were great!  Pizza is so easy to do an average job at... so great pizza really stands out.

Appearance of the Food: 4.5 Stars  It was pizza, which is pretty hard to make look fancy.  Any other time we've gotten other entrees, they look nice too.

Restrooms:  N/A on this visit, although they have been decent in past visits.

Atmosphere: 4.5 Stars  One World is noisy, but it's just a general din of happy conversations and people connecting (way better than TV noise in our opinion).  It's in a cool building and is set up well.

Service:  4.5 Stars

Ethical/Sustainable:  4 Stars  They make a lot of food from scratch.  Their plastic cups for kids are compostable.  It's the little things!

Pricing:  Pizzas are $12-$15.  Other lunch sandwiches and entrees range from $8-$20.

One World Cafe on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Avanti's Ristorante Pekin

This review is based on a couple of visits to Avanti's Ristorante in Pekin.

Our overall rating was 3.81 Stars (out of 5 stars).

Here's how that breaks down:

Family Friendly: 5 Stars  Avanti's is always very accommodating to our family.  

Menu: 3.5 Stars  If you're in the mood for pizza or pasta, this rating could jump to a 5.  They have a lot of variations, but it all boils down to pizza, pasta, and sandwiches.

Taste of the Food: 4 Stars  Avanti's bread is really, really good.

Appearance of the Food: 4 Stars  The food always looks good, but there's really no special presentation to speak of.

Restrooms: 5 Stars

Atmosphere: 3 Stars  The Pekin Avanti's is set up really weird.  Depending on where you sit you can be in a high traffic area or have a straight view into the kitchen.

Service: 5 Stars  Every time we've gone, the service has been outstanding.

Ethical/Sustainable:  3 Stars  Like most restaurants, there's not a lot to go on here.  The score could be higher if they provided information on where they sourced their food... then again it could be lower.

Pricing:  Sandwiches are $5-$7.  Entrees are $8-$12.  Pizzas are pretty standard for a sit-down restaurant.

Avanti's Inc on Urbanspoon

Monday, December 3, 2012

Judy's Restaurant

Recently before attending an all day conference I met a friend at Judy's Restaurant in Morton.  

Our overall rating was 3.71 Stars (out of 5 stars).

Here's how that breaks down:

Family Friendly: 4 Stars  Judy's used to be a smoking restaurant.  Newer Illinois legislation keeps that from happening, which makes it a lot more family friendly.

Menu: 3.5 Stars  It was a pretty standard breakfast fare and not much grabbed my eye as interesting or unique.

Taste of the Food: 3.5 Stars  This is a half star lower because the coffee was absolutely bad.  The friend I ate with liked it though, so maybe it's just a personal preference.  (But really, it wasn't good.)

Appearance of the Food: 4 Stars

Restrooms: N/A

Atmosphere:  3.5 Stars

Service: 5 Stars  Our waitress was quick and on top of things, despite the restaurant being full.

Ethical/Sustainable: 2.5 Stars  I seriously doubt Judy's has ever given ethical food sourcing or sustainable practices much thought.  I only didn't score it lower because I don't know that for sure.

Pricing: Breakfast items were between $5-10.

If I'm choosing the restaurant next time, I would probably pass on Judy's.  But I'll a meet a friend there if they request it.

Judy's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Harvest Cafe

For a fun family outing we took a lunch visit to The Harvest Cafe.  This is our family's favorite restaurant and we were glad to finally get there since starting this blog.  Why do we like it so much?  We've never not had a great experience.

Our overall rating was 4.81 Stars (out of 5 stars).

Here's how that breaks down:

Family Friendly: 5 Stars

Menu: 5 Stars  One reason we keep going back is everything we see on the menu looks so good we want to try it again!

Taste of the Food: 5 Stars  Always good.  They could get a bonus for their coffee.  So good.

Appearance of the Food: 5 Stars

Restrooms: 4 Stars

Atmosphere: 5 Stars  It's just a fun place to be and eat.

Service: 5 Stars

Ethical/Sustainable: 4.5 Stars

Pricing: Lunch sandwiches are $7-10, Pizza is $10-12, and lunch entrees are $12-15

We can't wait to plan another trip to The Harvest Cafe.

The Harvest Cafe on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Thirty-Thirty Coffee Company

We couldn't resist stopping by Thirty-Thirty on our way out of town for our anniversary.

Our overall rating was 4.36 (out of 5 stars).

Here's how that breaks down:

Family Friendly: 4.5 Stars

Coffee: 5 Stars  As a friend of ours has said: You forget how good 30/30 coffee is until you're drinking it. 

Food Choices: 4 Stars  Anything we've tried tastes really good, although there isn't a ton of selection.

Restrooms: 4 Stars

Atmosphere: 5 Stars
Probably one of the coolest coffee shops we've ever been to.  Watch out for the bear!

Service: 4 Stars

Ethical/Sustainable: 4 Stars  Good grades on the coffee here.  Everything else is an unknown however.

Pricing: A small drip coffee will cost you $2.  Pricey but good.

We'll be back.  In fact, we try to swing through anytime we're in Peoria.

Thirty-Thirty Coffee Co. on Urbanspoon

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Country Cupboard Ice Cream Shoppe

After a crazy adventure trying to find a Walmart in the Starved Rock area, we needed a hearty snack to lift our spirits.  We stumbled upon the Country Cupboard Ice Cream Shoppe in Utica, Illinois.

Our overall rating was  (3.14) (out of 5 stars).

Here's how that breaks down:

Family Friendly: 5 Stars

Menu:  3 Stars  The menu had too many choices and was too random.

Taste of the Food: 3 Stars  We both got a bowl of chili that was pretty mediocre.  The ice cream, however, was a rockin' 5+ Stars.  It was seriously delicious.

Appearance of the Food:  2.5 Stars  There were big drips of chili and cheese down the side of my bowl.

Restrooms:  N/A

Atmosphere: 3 Stars

Service:  3 Stars

Ethical/Sustainable:  2.5 Stars  There was no information on the sourcing of their ingredients, and only a few things were even possibly made from scratch.  But the napkins were 100% recycled.

Pricing:  The (very full) single scoop ice cream cones were $2.50.

Country Cupboard Ice Cream on Urbanspoon

Mika's Coffee House

On our way through Eureka we stopped by Mika's Coffee House to celebrate our 8th anniversary over a cup of coffee and a great conversation.

Our overall rating was 4.83 Stars (out of 5 stars).

Here's how that breaks down:

Family Friendly: 5 Stars

Food Options: N/A
We're being a little generous here.  There wasn't hardly any food out at all, but we also were there in the mid-to-late afternoon and close to closing so we'll give Mika's a pass this time through.

Coffee: 5 Stars

Restrooms: 5 Stars

Atmosphere: 5 Stars
They've done a great job keeping the "cool old building feel" while also incorporating the Eureka community into the decor.

Service: 5 Stars
We ordered one decaf coffee.  And since it was nearly out and cold, our barista offered instead to make us a decaf Americano.  It was good as well! 

Ethical/Sustainable: 4 Stars
There coffee is great.  The food is made-from-scratch, although I'm not sure on the sourcing of the ingredients.

Pricing: A cup of coffee runs about $2 with tax.

We wish we could get to Mika's more often!

Mika's Coffee House on Urbanspoon

Mickey's Massive Burritos

For our anniversary, we did some hiking in the Starved Rock area.  Since we had worked up quite an appetite, we headed to Mickey's Massive Burritos in LaSalle for lunch.  We're already trying to think of excuses to head back that way so we can go there again!

If you're not up for the drive, apparently Mickey's makes the rounds to some of the bigger fairs in Central Illinois.  So you too, can get in on the messy goodness!

Our overall rating was  (4.56) (out of 5 stars).

Here's how that breaks down:

Family Friendly: 5 Stars

Menu:  5 Stars

Taste of the Food: 5 Stars

Appearance of the Food:  4 Stars  To be fair, a great burrito is hard to make look pretty!

Restrooms:  5 Stars

Atmosphere: 5 Stars

Service:  5 Stars

Ethical/Sustainable:  3.5 Stars  Their website calls it "Quick Food from Scratch!"  From scratch is always a good thing, however there isn't any info on the source of their ingredients.

Pricing:  The massive burritos were $7 and were extremely filling.

Mickey's Massive Burritos on Urbanspoon

Kelleher's Irish Pub and Eatery

My friend and I met for lunch at Kelleher's Irish Pub & Eatery in Peoria.  The lunch was good and the conversation was great.

Our overall rating was 4.14 Stars (out of 5 stars).
Here's how that breaks down:

Family Friendly: 4 Stars
I'm sure a pub wouldn't get this high of a family rating on a Friday night.  But a Thursday lunch time?  It was fine.

Menu: 4.5 Stars
There was a lot of things I wanted to try, especially the Irish fare section.

Taste of the Food: 4 Stars

Appearance of the Food: 3.5 Stars

Restrooms: N/A

Atmosphere: 5 Stars
Cool old building.

Service: 5 Stars
Our waiter was great.  Kept up with everything perfectly.

Ethical/Sustainable: 3 stars

Literally nothing to go on here.  I'm assuming/hoping they're making their food.  But I just can't tell.

Pricing: Lunch cost me $10

Kelleher's Irish Pub & Eatery on Urbanspoon

Uptown Grill

To celebrate our anniversary, we went to Uptown Grill in LaSalle.

Our overall rating was  (4.13) (out of 5 stars).

Here's how that breaks down:

Family Friendly: 3.5 Stars  We didn't actually have our kids with us, but it seemed like they could have accommodated children fine.  However, the music was playing very loudly and dropped a couple of inappropriate words.

Menu:  4 Stars

Taste of the Food: 5 Stars

Appearance of the Food:  5 Stars

Restrooms:  4 Stars

Atmosphere: 4  As mentioned earlier, the music was rather loud for an otherwise classy restaurant.

Service:  5 Stars

Ethical/Sustainable:  3.5 Stars  Like usual, not much to go on.   Most items seemed to be mostly made from scratch.  However, there was no information on the sourcing of their ingredients.

Pricing:  A very wide range of prices.  On the dinner menu, there were sandwiches in the $7 range, entrees in the $15-20 range, and steaks/seafood entrees in the $25-40 range.

Uptown Grill on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Woody's Family Restaurant

I just met a friend for breakfast at Woody's Family Restaurant in Groveland.

Our overall rating was 3.64 (out of 5 stars).

Here's how that breaks down:

Family Friendly: 5 Stars

Menu: 3.5 Stars
The options on the breakfast menu are great, albeit a bit pricey for the quality and quantity of what you get.

Taste of the Food: 3.5 Stars

Appearance of the Food: 3.5 Stars

Restrooms: N/A
It's probably good for their overall ratings that I didn't visit the bathroom this trip.  Previous trips it has not been great.

Atmosphere: 3 Stars

Service: 5 Stars
I had (and have had) quick and excellent service.

Ethical/Sustainable: 2 Stars
Not a lot to go on, but they don't even have real butter, which is definitely a strike against them.

Pricing: For breakfast you can expect to pay between $6-10.

Woody's Groveland Family Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Fire House Pizza in Morton

I met a friend for lunch in Morton this week and we decided to eat at Firehouse Pizza.

Our overall rating was 3.29 (out of 5 stars).

Here's how that breaks down:

Family Friendly: 4 Stars

Menu: N/A
We at the lunch buffet so I didn't even see a menu.

Taste of the Food: 3 Stars
It wasn't bad, but neither did I have a "wow-this-is-good-pizza" moment.

Appearance of the Food: 3 Stars

Restrooms: 4.5 Stars
Much higher than I expected.

Atmosphere: 3 Stars
The firehouse theme is cool.  I personally dislike the TVs in each booth, but it was nice that most of them were off.

Service: 3 Stars

Ethical/Sustainable: 2.5 Stars
Not a lot to go on here.

Pricing: The lunch buffet was $9.  A bit pricy, but it did come with a drink and salad bar.

Sunday, September 30, 2012


After a fun morning at the Children's Discovery Museum, we stopped by Destihl in Normal Illinois

Our overall rating was 4.38 (out of 5 stars). 

Here's how that breaks down: 

Family Friendly: 5 Stars

Menu: 4 Stars
This could have been higher, but they offered hot dogs on the kid's menu.  Ouch.

Taste of the Food: 4.5 Stars

Appearance of the Food: 4 Stars 
Nothing negative here, since we mainly ordered burgers and fries they didn't have a lot to work with.

Restrooms: 5 Stars 
Not that you should visit a restaurant because of it's bathroom, but this is the first 5 star rating we gave a bathroom.

Atmosphere: 4 Stars 

Service: 5 Stars
Our waiter was friendly and very on top of things.

Ethical/Sustainable: 3.5 Stars
There just wasn't a lot to go on here, other than a small blurb on their website.  It would have been nice to see a few more specifics (whether farms they source their food from, or how what they do to be sustainable.)

Pricing: Lunch entrees (which is when we visited) were about $8-$12 each.

Destihl was worth dropping by again the next time we're in the area.

DESTIHL Restaurant & Brew Works on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


When travelling home from Minnesota, our original dining plans fell through. The silver lining was finding a new great restaurant in Iowa City--Atlas

Our overall rating was 4.63 (out of 5 stars). 

Here's how that breaks down: 

Family Friendly: 5 Stars
As usual, one of the boys spilled a cup of water.  A random waiter stopped to clean it up and brought him a new water.  He cleaned it up with such a good attitude we can only assume little boys dump water on the floor every day.

Menu: 5 Stars

Taste of the Food: 5 Stars 
Sometimes I wish we could put '6 stars'.  It was really good food.

Appearance of the Food: 5 Stars 

Restrooms: 4 Stars 

Atmosphere: 4 Stars 

Service: 5 Stars
See Family Friendly above.  They were pretty busy the night we were there but we still had excellent service.

Ethical/Sustainable: 4 Stars
From their menu: "We use only hormone and antibiotic free meats and poultry. We proudly serve Loch Duart Scottish salmon, Go to to learn more. We use local and/or organic produce as the season permits from Organic greens, ZJ Farm, Wild Life Lakes Farm, Fae Ridge Farms, Echollective Farm and Dirty Face Creeks Farm."

Pricing: Main dinner entrees are $15 and up.  They also have entree salads and burritos that are in the $10 range.

The next time we're in Iowa City we'll just plan on going to Atlas from the start!

Atlas World Grill on Urbanspoon

Peace Coffee

On our way out of the Twin Cities recently we stopped by Peace Coffee.

Our overall rating was 4.5 Stars (out of 5 stars).

Here's how that breaks down:

Family Friendly: 5 Stars

Coffee: 5 Stars
The Nocturnal Brew and Ethopian Yirgacheffe were both excellent.

Food Options: 5 Stars
They get a lot of their food from other places, but it all looked good.  The couple of bagels we split were great.  (They were from Common Roots Cafe.)

Restrooms: 3 Stars

Atmosphere: 4 Stars

Ethical/Sustainable: 5 Stars
It was really great that Peace Coffee gave you the option to recycle or compost almost everything.  While there are a few things that you actually have to just throw away, they made it a point to have super-small garbage cans.  Even in the bathrooms, the paper towels went into a separate can to be composted!

Pricing: About what you'd expect for an upscale coffee shop.

The next time we're in the area we'll be swinging by Peace Coffee.

Peace Coffee on Urbanspoon

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Common Roots Cafe

What a great place to start our dining out ratings blog.  Common Roots Cafe was excellent.

Our overall rating was 4.5 Stars (out of 5 stars).

Here's how that breaks down:

Family Friendly: 5 Stars
Common Roots is a seat-yourself restaurant.  You order at the front and then find a seat.  Their staff bring your food out to you.  The day we were there the staff was excellent at accommodating us.  (We had 4 adults, 3 kids and 2 babies.)  They got us extra silverware and napkins, brought an extra plate two adults who were sharing a menu, and most importantly, didn't act perturbed that we brought a crowd of kids with us.

Menu: 4 Stars
Everything on the menu looked great.  The only knock was that at the time we went (over the lunch hour), the sandwich section of the menu was the only thing available to order.  The breakfast and entree sections looked amazing, we just wish we could have tried them too!

Taste of the Food: 5 Stars

Appearance of the Food: 4 Stars

Coffee: 5 Stars
They serve Peace Coffee.  It was great.

Restrooms: 3 Stars

Atmosphere: 4.5 Stars

Service: 5 Stars
Keeping in mind the type of restaurant that it was, the service was excellent.

Ethical/Sustainable: 5 Stars
This was the coolest part of Common Roots.  They can tell you what percent of what they serve is organic, local, and fair trade.  They had a huge garden behind their restaurant as well.  We've never seen another restaurant come close to this.

Pricing: Sandwiches were all about $10.  The entrees were $12-$15.

We'll definitely visit Common Roots Cafe the next time we visit the Twin Cities.

Common Roots Cafe on Urbanspoon