One of the fun things about being back in Peoria is running into old friends that I haven’t seen in years. This happened the other day when I ran into my friend, Tom Biederbeck in a parking lot. I've known Tom for years but I haven’t seen him since I moved to New York in 1993! We caught up a little bit and decided to have lunch and Tom was kind enough to invite me to his luncheon group, “The Fairly Bright Lunch Group.” The group includes Tom, who's an editor and designer and two of his friends, Reed Roesler, an attorney and founding member of the Davis and Campbell firm and Bob Fuller, an author and professor at Bradley University and they meet every couple of weeks at The Rhythm Kitchen downtown. I’ve been meaning to go to The Rhythm Kitchen ever since I moved back in October, so this is perfect. Let’s go have lunch with The Fairly Bright Lunch Group. And don’t forget your sunglasses, these are bright fellows!
Alright, here we are at the Rhythm Kitchen on Water Street in downtown Peoria.
It looks like a cool place from the outside, let's go check it out.
There's wooden tables lined up on the right side of the room...
And a long and winding bar sits on the other side of the room opposite the tables. I think I'll go grab a seat and get an iced tea.
And I no sooner sit down, than Stephanie serves the iced tea up quickly and with a beautiful smile.
While taking a shot of the bar from my seat, an olbligatory bar room mirror shot happens. As always, I'm early, so let's take a little tour around the Rhythm Kitchen.
There's a working piano up front where everyone is invited to tickle the ivories.
An instructional painting hangs over the piano.
I just about cracked my skull open trying to look out of this window.
There's an open kitchen in the back where you can sit and watch your meal being prepared.
Here's the specials of the day listed on this chalkboard in the middle of the room. I'm thinking about getting the tuna noodle casserole, but I'm hoping there's no peas involved with the dish.
Check out the custom-made chandelier hanging from the ceiling made out of whiskey bottles and wanted signs, very cool!
There's another room through this door, let's go see what's going on there.
The room isn't open for lunch, but it fills up at night when live music is featured at the Rhythm Kitchen. We'll come back at night in the future to get a glimpse of that.
I ran into the pretty owner, Shelley in this room. Shelley told me The Rhythm Kitchen has been open for over 14 years now. It certainly is a bright spot and a good draw for the riverfront area in Peoria.
All of these black and white photos are of Shelley's family, kind of like a scrapbook on a wall, very fun to look at.
And after snapping that last photo I turned around and discovered that the Fairly Bright Lunch Group had arrived and were seated at a table. Clockwise from left, Reed Roesler, Bob Fuller and Tom Biederbeck.
Shortly after I sat down, Tom laid out his pocket watch on the table with this gold key which unlocks the meaning of the title, "The Fairly Bright Lunch Group." All three of these guys are members of the academic honor society, Phi Beta Kappa. I barely got out of high school, but they've allowed me access to their group because I was a member in good standing of The Monkees fan club back in the day.
And here we are, three fairly bright guys and one fairly dim bulb, cheers!
Stephanie sat down and excitedly took our orders.
And before you know it, the food starts arriving. I started off with a cup of chicken noodle soup. It came with a slice of garlic bread and it was a great cup of soup. I can't swear to it, but I think the noodles are homemade, very tasty!
Ross got the meatloaf sandwich which comes with potato salad.
Bob got the salmon B.L.T., it's all that and a bag of chips.
Tom got the ravioli for his entree.
I got the tuna noodle casserole and I'm happy to report that there were no peas involved in the making of this dish and it was delicious. It was a great lunch with lively conversation with topics including: beer, classic Peoria bars, cheeseburgers, The Beatles, skiing, the Powder Highway, the internet, the post office, trains, priests and plastic shot glasses. I thank The Fairly Bright Lunch Group for a wonderful lunch and hope to see you all again soon!
And on my way out, I ran into another old friend I hadn't seen in years, Bill Voorhees. Just like I said at the top of this post, that's just one of the things I love about this town, running into old acquaintances. See you all tomorrow!
Thoughts For Food
I always ask the same questions to my “Lunch With...” subject. I chose Tom out of the group to pitch the questions to, since he’s the one that was responsible for getting us all together. Take it away, Tom!
Recommendation for Saturday Night Cheeseburger: Ulrich's Rebellion Room.
If you could take a trip back in time, where would you eat a meal in Peoria? The Coney Island Tap.
Even though you should try to eat local, the one chain restaurant in Peoria I would recommend is: Peoria County Jail.
Favorite local sandwich: The home-made tenderloin at Spotted Cow.
Best little out of the way joint I know is: Peoria County Jail.
My favorite spot for breakfast is: Cyd's in Junction City.
If you had to choose a last meal in Peoria, what would it be (feel free to use items from different restaurants): The Top of the 20th.