Kirkland Family Restaurant Review – Kirkland, IL

Kirkland Family Restaurant Review – Kirkland, IL

Kirkland Family Restaurant Review – Kirkland, IL

In the “before times,” people were just nicer. Regardless of race, religion, political bent, people in general were just more well behaved. Friendlier, cordial, helpful.

At least that’s what I think.

Last Saturday I ran into a little bit of the “before times” when I stopped in a small Illinois town to get some food to go from the local diner.

Here’s a little bit of what I found out about Kirkland. And it has nothing to do with Costco.

Originally the land of the the Pottawatomie Indians, a peaceful tribe, they grew rice and corn and refined maple sugar. They were removed in 1836 as part of one of the US gov’t “treaties” and not long after a Mr William Kirk built a log cabin and began acquiring land, which totaled 1500 acres by 1886.

He donated some land to the railroad on the condition they’d make the little burg a stop, they did, and it worked to the town’s advantage, as by law, sheep traveling to slaughter in Chicago could spend no more than 36 hours on the train without a break, and that was the exact distance from Omaha, where many herds would come from. They were unloaded at Kirkland, watered, fed and sheared before continuing on. Population peaked ten years ago at 1744, but that has affected the bustle of the village. One doesn’t see the empty storefronts like in most small Midwest towns. There are several bars and restaurants, grocer, building supply, gas station, a couple of churches, a bank, and then there is the Kirkland Family Restaurant.

They are open seven days for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and have a very extensive menu (posted below) for a small operation. Daily specials, too.

But I was talking about the “before times” people, wasn’t I? And that’s what I found at this small town eatery, friendly greetings from other customers, and a single waitress/server that went aboveKirkland Family Restaurant Review – Kirkland, IL and beyond the call to serve.

We placed an order to go (I’m still not comfortable with public spaces yet, March 2021) and I had the fried fish and fries, with a side of creamy slaw. Our other selection was the fried shrimp, which also included fries, and the side choice was cottage cheese. Fresh, soft dinner rolls were included.

They had a lot of potato and side choices, again, interesting for a small operation.

Our food was prepared quickly and correctly, fried to perfection and very tasty.

Again, the server wanted to make sure we were prepared to eat our meal on the go, and kept asking/suggesting compliments to our order, like plastic cutlery, ample napkins, butter pats, other sauces.

It was a great experience, and I can wait to return for a leisurely Saturday morning breakfast. You can bet I’ll go for chicken fried steak and a mess o eggs and taters. BTW, everything on the menu is very, very, reasonably priced.

Full menu below, click on each page to enlarge.  And check out the restaurant at their own webpage here.

Kirkland Family Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

 

Kirkland Family Restaurant Review – Kirkland, IL

Kirkland Family Restaurant Review – Kirkland, IL

 

 

 

 

Kirkland Family Restaurant Review – Kirkland, IL

Kirkland Family Restaurant Review – Kirkland, IL

Poke Bros Chain Review

Poke Bros Chain Review

Poke Brothers serves “poke”  (po-KAY) a dish that originated in the 70s in Hawaii. Traditionally consisting of diced seafood and rice or vegetables, some people describe it as “sushi in a bowl,” but to me, it’s more like ceviche. Created in 2016, the company has already grown to 37 stores across the Midwest and East Coast. With a set-up similar to Chipotle, if you “build your own” you move thru the line specifying what you would like for a “base” (salad or three different types of rice), choose your protein (chicken, shrimp, ahi, salmon, vegetarian, and then select from myriad toppings and sauces. They have a number of pre-set combinations if you feel like the first time you want to trust their judgment as to what’s a popular approach. We did one of each. The “High TIde” included chicken, shrimp, Edamame, pineapple, green onions, carrots, avocado, corn, cucumbers and sriracha aioli. Our “build your own version” stuck with ahi, shrimp, with a salad base, and included their signature OG sauce, cukes, green onions, crispy onions, and sesame seeds.

I only have one minor suggestion for them.  Using “salad” as a base, it’s 90% iceberg lettuce, which (I understand) quite a percent of the population find disagreeable.  The restaurant could probably offer an alternative or a mix. Spinach maybe?  Butter?  That’s all.

Two bowls, around $25. It’s all tasty and very fresh. The shop is immaculate, as are the restrooms. They utilize all the familiar delivery services if you choose to go that route.  See the “build your own menu” below.  Full menu at the link.

Menu   Locations

 

Poke Bros Chain Review

Click to enlarge

 

 

 

 

 

Menu   Locations

 

Poke Bros Chain Review

Poke Bros Chain Review

 

Franks Chicago Shrimp House Review

Franks Chicago Shrimp House Review

Franks Chicago Shrimp House Review

Franks Chicago Shrimp House ReviewFor people who don’t live around Chicago, fried shrimp probably isn’t the first things that pop into their minds as a “Chicago food.”  No, you’re knowledge probably ends at Deep Dish Pizza and Italian Beef Sandwiches.

But fried shrimp is a thing, and there are dozens of outlets for it, including some mini chains.  Seems WW II GI’s, returning from the South Pacific, had developed a hankering for the tasty deep-fried morsels and more than a couple of them set up the first simple take-out stands.

Today, in addition to regular or “Chicago style” (slightly spicy), many stores sell a bit of chicken, fish, frog legs, scallops and fried vegetables.  Full typical menu looks like this:

My chain of choice is Franks Chicago Shrimp House with four outlets scattered around the city, including the one I patronize in the far northwest suburbs.  Food is sold in 1/4 increments. I always go for the catfish strips, and today, feeling bold, I threw in some onion rings and a couple of frog legs.  They do not offer local fish like walleye, smelt, perch or blue gills, but there are other places that do.

Their breading is a mix of flour and cornmeal, same for the onion rings which I suspect are made in house, because they are inconsistent, and I don’t mean that in a negative sense at all, but rather that they are irregular sizes and shapes.  Food service rings are usually identical in those regards.  It’s a nice size ring, with a juicy circle of real onion inside, not “onion bits” as some fast food joints sell.  BTW, best fast food onion rings?  Arbys.  Seriously.

The catfish is meaty flesh, slightly flaky, but firm. The breading is not seasoned, or if it is, it’s so slight as to not be detectable by old fart taste buds.  The usual array of sauces are available for dripping, tartar, cocktail, lemon juice, bbq and more.

I don’t get over there enough.  It’s a dozen or so miles from my house and I rarely have a reason to head in that direction.  I’ll make the effort in the future!

 

 

 

Frank's Chicago Shrimp House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
 

Franks Chicago Shrimp House Review

Franks Chicago Shrimp House Review

Youngs Frozen Fish and Chips Review

Youngs Frozen Fish and Chips Review

 

Youngs Frozen Fish and Chips Review

Youngs Frozen Fish and Chips Review. “Fish and chips” was the ‘national dish’ of England for 100 + years, starting in the mid-1800s.  It was really one of the first examples of “fusion cuisine” as both of the components were brought to the country by immigrants.  At the peak of the dishe’s popularity, there were reportedly over 35,000 fish and chips shops in the UK.

Cod and haddock were the usual fish utilized, with a semi-thick breading, and deep fried.  “Chips” (French fries) were thicker, heartier cuts of potatoes that in the U.S.

Another tradition for the industry was the take-out food was wrapped in newspapers.

I lived in London in the 1990s, and by then fish and chips shops were few and far between. “Curry” had replaced the swimmers as England’s favorite take-out food.  I had to actually hunt for fish and chips to sample.

Youngs Frozen Fish and Chips Review

Cooked product.

Young’s Seafood has been around for over 200 years.  They were initially known for “potted shrimp” and later became the innovators to bring frozen scallops and shrimp to the public.

Young’s is England’s largest specialist seafood brand, capturing nearly 20% of the $1.4 billion fish and chips market.  Their frozen line includes a variety of different types of servings of cod and haddock.

I purchased the single serving product, which included one filet of cod and a handful of fries.  It suggested baking at 450 for 22 minutes, and I did exactly that.

I was more than pleased, and it exceeded my expectations.  The fish breading was crisp, the flesh firm and flavorful.  The fries were crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside.  They were not pre-seasoned, which is nice.

I would buy this product again, in the larger quantity bag, to have on hand.  It’s one of the very few selections I have had in this segment that I regard as “swell.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Youngs Frozen Fish and Chips Review

 

Nana Js Soulful Kitchen Review Ocean Springs MS

Nana Js Soulful Kitchen Review

Nana Js Soulful Kitchen Review Ocean Springs MS

Nana Js Soulful Kitchen ReviewNana J’s is one of those places that leaves you really conflicted.  On the one hand, you want to tell everybody how wonderful it is.  On the other, you don’t want to go back someday and find a line out the door because it’s become so popular.

It’s small, unassuming, short menu which mostly changes daily, and your entree choice includes a couple vegetables and dessert.  There are five-six choices daily, all made from scratch. ALL MADE FROM SCRATCH.

In a way, it reminds me of Willie Mae’s Scotch House in New Orleans, before Katrina.  Four tables, one woman, a cast iron skillet and the best fried chicken you’ve ever had anywhere.

Whatever your choice of entree at Nana J’s, be prepared to have it be the best version of that dish you’ve ever had anywhere.  The same claim for the sides and dessert.

The Deets

I went with fried catfish, some days they have filets, some days whole, bone-in, some days both.   My side choices were potato salad and collard greens. A piece of cornbread is included on every plate; dessert the day I was in was banana pudding, complete with the requisite ‘nilla wafers.

The fish was done perfectly, crispy breading, nicely seasoned, with steaming flaking moist flesh enclosed.  House-made tartar sauce was the best I have ever had anywhere, yes, you could spoon it if you were inclined.  It was so far beyond the usual glop of mayo and pickle bits or chives.

Potato salad was superb, it was like creamy deviled eggs with potato bits. Went down easy.  Likewise the greens, like potato salad a dish most restaurants seem to deliberately screw up.  Nana J’s was smoky, salty, crisp and buttery at the same time. Could almost convince me to be a vegetarian. OK, not quite.  But you get my point.

Banana pudding, something I haven’t had since childhood since I’m not much for desserts on any occasion.  Wonderful.  Flavorful, smooth, creamy, with pieces of vanilla wafer.  As it should be.

I posted after I left the restaurant that I’ve been fortunate to have dined in 65 countries, and this meal easily popped into my list of top five meals anywhere, anytime.  Meant it.  I go to the Gulf Coast every year, and hands down I’ve never had better food on the coast.

Personable, friendly, charming, helpful host/server as well.

They have a website, but it doesn’t tell you much.  You’d be much better off checking their Facebook entries from time to time.  Go there. Often. But don’t tell anybody else about it!

Nana J's Soulful Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Nana Js Soulful Kitchen Review Ocean Springs MS

Frankes Cafeteria Review Little Rock

Frankes Cafeteria Review Little Rock

Frankes Cafeteria Review  – Little Rock, Arkansas

Touted as Little Rock’s oldest operating restaurant, Frankes is cafeteria-style American and Southern classics, with a set number of entrees available each day as well as different specials each day of the week.  Grab a tray and walk through the cafeteria line where the servers will hand you the dishes you point at or call out, starting with an abundance of old-fashioned salads, like “Ambrosia,” then sides, entrees, breads, desserts, and beverages.

Pricing is by item, tho you can elect to have a flat price for your entree depending on whether you opt for one or two sides.

I opted for the catfish meal, which isn’t on the heating table but cooked to order.  Comes with crinkle-cut fries and one side, I chose the collard greens. The fish was excellent, crispy, piping hot, lightly seasons.  Fries were as you would suspect.  Greens were also superb, cooked right, highly seasoned. There were two fruit salad choices, I chose the wrong one (I was looking for sweeter).  I also chose a soft roll and had chocolate cream pie for dessert (not pictured).

Lunch was around $10.

Two locations in Little Rock.  Here’s the full menu, including the rotating daily specials. (Subject to change, imagine).

 

 

 
Franke's Cafeterias Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
 

Franke's Cafeterias Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Frankes Cafeteria Review – Little Rock, Arkansas

Frankes Cafeteria Review – Little Rock, Arkansas

 

Bluff Lake Catfish Farm Review – Maquoketa, IA

Bluff Lake Catfish Farm Restaurant Review

Bluff Lake Catfish Farm Review

You must do this once, at least. An actual catfish farm that has a restaurant open only Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, each night offering a full menu as well as one or two AYCE specials. I went on a Friday night, specifically for the AYCE catfish, your choice, whole or fillets. Served ‘family style” your entree is accompanied by a sweet and tangy creamy slaw, and waffle fries. Full bar, and drinks are pretty cheap.

Here’s the kicker. Be prepared to wait. And wait. And wait. We arrived at 5pm figuring we’d slide right in, but we waited a full two hours to be seated.

Once we were, and ordered, dinner comes fast as long as you order the specials. I can’t speak to the speed of the other menu items. The night I was there people were ordering the catfish or a Flintstones-sized slab of beef.

While you’re waiting, if the weather is pleasant, there are plenty of natural features to see outside, some ponds, a waterfall, plenty of wild fowl.

Use your GPS to get there. I mean it. Otherwise you’ll end up like me driving down the road and saying repeatedly “this can’t be right!”

Full menu

Bluff Lake Catfish Farm Review

Perfect Onion Rings

Bluff Lake Catfish Farm Review

Bluff Lake Catfish Farm Review Bluff Lake Catfish Farm Review

Stones Throw Brewing Review Little Rock AR

Stones Throw Brewing Review Little Rock

Stones Throw Brewing Review Little Rock AR

Stones Throw Brewing Review Little Rock ARMeh. Though I didn’t go for the beer, but I hear it gets high marks for a microbrewery. (What’s smaller than a microbrewery? A mini microbrewery?  Anyway, this place is pretty small, in a pleasant residential section of LIttle Rock.

Some friends wanted to meet there, so meet we did. They all ordered beers. I had a diet cola. I always have a diet cola. Or bottle watered. Do I have a drinking problem and purposely stay away?  Nope, never did.  But after I passed into adulthood, paying to consume something that was either going to make me sick or lose a day – seemed silly.  Still does.

Four persons.  Two ordered food.  One ordered the black bean burger, one a catfish strip basket with cole slaw and fries.  Bean burger came with spinach, onions, hummus, and mushrooms with a maple cayenne mustard on a vegan bun.

The joint wasn’t crowded and we were the only ones who ordered food.

Ten minutes. Twenty. Thirty.  I inquire of the (only) waitress.  “What, well I put that order in, let me check.”

She passed by the table a few minutes later with the news “He was just plating it, it will be out in a minute.”

Result?  It wasn’t.  “He” started on the order when she went back.  So at the 45 minute interval, out cames the food, prettily plated (well, in baskets), bean burger first bite – satisfactory.  Catfish first bite. “Does this look raw to you?”

It was.

Good lord, people own up to your mistakes.

And millenials? Speak up when you aren’t happy with goods or service. Expect better.

It was resolved by taking it off the bill.  Really?  That’s it?

Maybe the beer is good.

 

 

Stone's Throw Brewing Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Stones Throw Brewing Review Little Rock AR

Stones Throw Brewing Review Little Rock AR

Fat Baby and Alises Carryout Review Biloxi Mississippi

Fat Baby and Alises Review Biloxi

Fat Baby and Alises Carryout Review Biloxi Mississippi

I write a lot about gas station food because I eat a lot of gas station food.  I’m not talking about a bag of Lay’s and a Slim Jim or six, I’m talking about gas stations that offer hot lunch, either ala carte to take out or the sit down variety.  Fat Baby and Alises offers both, open early til late for carry out or dine in with a hot bar lunch buffet from 11-2.

Different specials daily, but the focus is on local cuisine, seafood, po-boys and the like.  The hot bar buffet is chock-a-block full of regional side dishes like fried okra, greens, greet beans, sweet potato casserole and such.

I ate there a couple times during a week long stop. I had the shrimp po-boy, excellent fry, great seasoning, good bread.  They serve theirs “dressed and pressed” and the ‘pressed’ part is a local thing, unheard of in New Orleans, basically a panini-like squeeze. Doesn’t detract.  “Dressed” is as everywhere – tomato, mayo, lettuce.

I also had the “Royal Reds” – steamed shrimp, these are coldwater, deep water shrimp from 30 miles or so off shore, they are larger than most and so flavorful, people often say “they taste like lobster” and putting aside the melted butter, they really do.  About $10 a half pound, includes two sides.

I opted to get my sides from the hot bar and went with green beans and greens.  Both the best I have ever had.  Anywhere. Period. Full stop. So much flavor.  Not pictured – side of crinkle cut fries with brown gravy. O.M.G.

Drink was unsweetened bottomless tea, they also have soft drinks, coffee, and as a C-store, naturally every single beverage that comes in a bottle or can.

Place your order at the kitchen counter, they give you a slip, gather up anything else you want in the store, pay, take your receipt back to the kitchen counter and they’ll deliver your food to your table or your hands if you’re going home, back to the office, or hotel.

Great food.  Really great food.  Fair pricing. Really nice people. Wish them all the success. Wish you’d stop in if you’re in the area.

Fat Baby and Alise’s is located inside the Marathon Gas station at 1757 Popps Ferry Road, which is handy if you’re at the beach of popping off I-10. Here’s their full regular menu.  Lots and lots of parking.

 

Fat Baby and Alises Carryout Review Biloxi Mississippi

Fat Baby and Alises Carryout Review Biloxi Mississippi

Shaggys on the Beach Review Biloxi Mississippi

Shaggys on the Beach Review Biloxi MS

Shaggys on the Beach Review Biloxi Mississippi

It was just a gleam in the founder’s eye – to turn an old bait shack in Pass Christian, MS into a food and beer joint.

Hurricane Katrina put his plans on hold for awhile, as it did all of us who lived in the area.

But, as he said “sometime later the sun starting shining again and it was time to get to work.”

And work he has, as in just over a decade there are now five Shaggys along the Gulf Coast. Each the same but unique it their own way.  (Shaggys name is an homage to a coast joint from the 40s).

I hit the one on Biloxi beach, overlooking the shimmering blue Gulf of Mexico.  Shaggy’s menu is typical of restaurants in the area, a mix of local seafood, prepared in various ways, along with appetizers and entrees of American cuisine one would expect to find in almost any casual eatery or bar.  And that’s not a bad thing!

Fresh oysters and deep water Royal Red shrimp too!  Thirsty? Of course Shaggys has all the usual ‘beach type’ drinks and some of their own special concoctions.

We had a drink, her a fru-fru umbrella thing, me a Stella.  Split a Caesar salad with grilled shrimp, before moving on to the seafood platter for two, Shaggys on the Beach Review Biloxi Mississippigrilled and fried shrimp, fried oysters, catfish filets. I didn’t share the catfish.  I’m in my catfish period, for some reason.

The food was marvelous, and it’s fairly priced.  The grilled shrimp has some pleasant seasoning, as did the fried pieces. Naturally there are the two local hot sauces on the table. When you live in or near New Orleans – which one is your preference can be fightin’ words.

Dining on the deck overlooking the bay is marvelous.  The beach runs right up to the rear of Shaggys and there is a fenced in kiddy play area.  Not sure about inside, but your four legged Scoobys are welcome on the deck at Shaggys.  (See what I did there?).

Service by Becky was professional and friendly, despite it being a madhouse.

Check out the whole menu, plan a trip.

The main restaurant hours:
Sunday – Thursday 11AM – 9PM
Friday- Saturday 11AM – 11PM

 

Shaggy's Biloxi Beach Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

 

Shaggys on the Beach Review Biloxi Mississippi
Shaggys on the Beach Review Biloxi Mississippi

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