June Restaurant (& high school reunion!)

Monday, October 18, 2010

A week before Steve and I left on our California trip, I was down in my hometown of Washington (outside of Peoria) for my 10-year high school reunion. The true reunion festivities were a Saturday night, but the Friday night before was a casual get together at a local bar. My friend Darcie and I opted for the more casual trip to the bar vs. paying $40 for a chicken dinner at a local venue. I think we chose wisely.

While it was interesting seeing many people I haven't seen in the flesh in 10 years, I realized what many of you had already mentioned to me: Facebook really has replaced reunions. I didn't feel an overwhelming need to talk to people because I'm friends with the majority of them on Facebook. I know who is married, who lives locally and who has moved away. And if we're not close friends to the point where we catch when we're in town, then why do we need to catch up in person? That may sound very unfeeling of me, but I honestly wouldn't have known what to ask some people because I see what's happening with them in my daily Facebook news feed.

I did see a few people that it was fun to catch up with, but I'm very glad that opted to forgo the official get together on Saturday night. Instead, Darcie and I checked out a new(er) restaurant in Peoria, June. Boasting local, organic ingredients and chef Josh Adams who has Alinea on his resume, we were both psyched to eat here. And, umm, compared to larger cities, their 7-course tasting menu was a bargain at $85. You could add wine pairings for $130 total. We skipped the pairings because in Peoria cabs aren't an option, so we needed to be functional enough to drive ourselves home.

We arrived at 7:20 for our 7:30 reservation. They said our table wasn't ready (really? the restaurant was only half full). So we headed to the bar for a cocktail. The bartender asked us a few questions and we settled on something with orange and not sweet. We ended up with an orangey cocktail that was very sweet. Pretty good, but tart would've been better.

First course was a cold "whipped" carrot and ginger soup topped with wild ikura roe. Underneath was a gelatinous pocket of machta green tea that kind of oozed when you poked into it. The texture of the soup was intriguing but the roe was a little too fishy for me. Presentation was great, but the overall flavor profiles kind of lost me.

The second course was an upgrade from the first. Scallops, perfectly cooked with a delicious dashi broth, black garlic, radish and matsutaki mushrooms. This dish was cooked to perfection.

The third course was salmon with sea beans, radish, purpelette onions, and a cucumber creme fraiche. This was a good dish but not a stand out for me.

For the fourth course we were served veal sweetbreads. Piping hot, tasty and fresh off the skillet, served with Parisian gnocchi, baby fennel and picked fennel. The sweetbreads were just perfect. I'm about the world's pickiest eater, but I love, love, love sweetbreads.

Fifth course? Beef! Skirt steak served with a rich sauce of white truffle-roasted beef fat aioli (yum!). I usually don't like fresh green beans (I know, I'm a horrible person who loves canned green beans), but I devoured these. And on top? A ton of black summer truffles!

Want a closer look? Mmmmmm....truffle. It was a truffle lover's delight. Our server who brought out this dish was a little on the younger side and was so excited to explain this dish. She said she had just had it herself that week and loved it. She explained the truffles as "very exotic." I got the feeling that was her first truffle experience, and she was smitten.

Course number 6 was the first of two desserts. It was a plum cake with a million thin layers paired with a homemade vanilla ice cream. The cake was just perfect: light and tangy and lively flavors. I've never really had plums, and this cake totally won me over.

And finally, lucky number seven! A chocolate bread pudding paired with a homemade hazelnut ice cream. Divine. I wouldn't have thought I'd have room for more dessert at the end of this meal, but I definitely devoured this bread putting. It was more homey vs. fancy, but that was fine in my book.

Here's a shot of the open kitchen, as seen from our table. The atmosphere was very serene as the dishes were prepared. Having the kitchen in full view was fantastic. However, we were there for a LONG time. We were seated at 7:30 and didn't walk out until 11pm. Yes, 3 1/2 hours. While the time didn't exactly drag on, there were lengthy gaps between courses as well as periods where we didn't have wine yet when we were served a course (we ordered wine by the glass, and were rewarded with some extra splashes due to the delay, but still).

All-in-all, it was a great meal and overall experience and a good value. A 7 course tasting menu, 2 glasses of wine and a cocktail ran me about $140 (with tip). Service definitely needs to speed up, especially when the restaurant isn't fully booked, but overall this is a great option for fine dining in Peoria!


BigAppleNosh said...

Everything looks delish! Those truffles made my mouth water! I'm on the same page when it comes to Facebook and reunions. I didn't attend mine but later saw pictures of it on Facebook and that was good enough for me :)

Charlene @ Sweetchic said...

Wow, that looks deeeelish! to be honest, I think I would have enjoyed this food more than the Alinea food (and for less than the cost of one person, hha)

Post a Comment