Kiefs Reef Review – McHenry, IL

Kiefs Reef ReviewThere are lots of bars and eateries along the Fox River in Northern Illinois. If you’re a boater, you can navigate the river up to the “Chain of Lakes” where you’ll find even more choices. At nearly each one, there are docks to tie up your craft if you feel like having lunch, dinner, or a few bumps.

In the winter, apparently, they also serve as way stations for snowmobilers going up and down the frozen river.

Such was the case yesterday at Kief’s Reef, and also it happened to be a “wake/memorial” for a local denizen who had recently passed, and was apparently quite a popular person judging from the size of the crowd. It was elbow to elbow.

I might have chosen someplace different had I known about that, but once inside, I was committed, and I had looked at the menu earlier in the day, and had a hankering for their offer of a “School of Lake Perch” platter, served with fries, tots or chips, and a dollop of cole slaw.

Kief’s Reef, I understand, is very popular for their version of the Friday nite fish fry, a big thing in these parts. They also serve up a respectable pizza, a lot of wings, and prime rib on Saturdays.

The perch was everything I was expecting and more. Three large fillets, batter fried, crispy on the outside, tender, steaming fish inside. Tots were deep fried to perfection, as they should be. Ultra-creamy cole slaw had a little twist to it, as their recipe includes ultra fine diced onion. Nice change.

The burger was mammoth, hand pattied, and covered with blue cheese morsels, not some of the icky salad dressing so many people use. The blackened seasoning was just the right amount and there was more than ample bacon. The bun was bakery soft but sturdy enough to hold up as many toppings as you could choose to garnish your meat.

Video gaming, of course, too.

I’ll go back in the summer, sit on the outdoor patio/deck, watch the boats putt by on the lazy river, maybe have a beer, and admire the sunbathers.

Full menu.  Best server ever?  Kelly!

Kiefs Reef Review

Black and Blue and Bacon Burger


Kiefs Reef Review

“A School of Lake Perch” Plate


Kief's Reef Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Manna for Minnesotans …. and it’s not Burgers!

Walleye PikeI can’t think of many things a typical Minnesotan would rather eat than the State fish, the Walleye Pike. (OK, maybe some weird casserole involving spam and crumbled potato chips!) Fished both commercially and recreationally, the Walleye (which is really a member of the Perch family, not the Pike family), is both an exciting game fish for anglers, and one of the prize fresh water eating fish. They can grow to 20 pounds, and are nocturnal, so anglers have to brave the cold Minnesota nights during “the season” to land a few.

Or you can purchase them from local fisheries or mail order houses, like Walleye Direct (be sure to also add some panfish to your order, like crappies, sunfish, and blue gills!).  Or perhaps you’ll find yourself at the Minnesota State Fair (one of the country’s best!) around Labor Day, where they serve “Walleye on a Stick!”

Minnesotans idolize walleye so much, they’ve erected several giant statutes of the fish Walleye Statuearound the state, like this one in Garrison.

My good friends Alan and Brenda Searle, former denizens of the Gopher State, now of Oregon’s Brenalan Farms, purveyors of all things ovis aries related, recently facilitated the transfer of some walleye filets from Minnesota to BurgerDogBoy’s house, and we partook of these delights last nite.

Walleyes produce a light, flaky white fish meat, nearly boneless, very light in flavor, and “not fishy” at all. While there are many ways of cooking it, the avid fisherman (of which I have never been) defers to the “shore lunch” method, a light dusting of flour, paprika, salt, and pepper, and pan-fired in cast iron over a campfire (or reasonable facsimile of that).

I was determined to follow this method, which I would also refer to as my dad’s way of preparing walleye, but on later reflection, I don’t think we ever had walleye at home. A “mis-memory of childhood”, and there’s a sidebar thought on that.

Nonetheless, I selected an appropriate vessel from our cast iron pantry, dusted the fish as required, and pan fried them in a bit of butter. (My father would never have used butter, oops, sorry, Dad).

Walleye needs no accompaniments, other than maybe a squirt of lemon, and we enjoyed it with a huge salad from the garden. We have a variety of different colored carrots, not sure how I am supposed to get my “orange vitamin crap” from white or green carrots, but that’s a tale for another day.

Walleye, although plentiful in the Midwest US and Canada, is damned tough to find in Portland. I’ve called all the major seafood distributors and scoured the stores and come up empty. I do know it’s available at Corbett Fish House as a non-gluten version of fish and chips, and it’s a very delicious entree there, as are other Midwestern fish like lake perch.

But as far as I know, that’s your only opportunity to sample walleye in Portland, unless you get invited to our house!

Walleye Pike, Walleye Shore Lunch, Walley Dinner

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