Live from Peoria, Illinois, it’s Saturday Night with this week’s host, Troy Ummel’s Connected and featuring The Ready For Prime Beef Player, Marty Wombacher. And now please welcome, a true Peoria hidden gem and this week’s host, Troy Ummel’s Connected!
Off we go on a chilly winter evening. It's spitting freezing rain tonight, but that's better than snow!
Here we are at Troy Ummel's Connected. I've never been here and it's kind of hidden away back here on Dries Lane which is near University. In the last couple weeks I've heard from two different people that I should check it out and just about a week ago, MBIP pal, Phil Luciano wrote a glowing review in the PJ Star, so I figured we should check it out. Let's go in and begin this Saturday adventure in dining!
This is the candlelit hostess station, but we don't need to linger here because we'll be sitting...
Over here at the bar. And there's plenty of seats, so let's go grab one and get settled in for the evening.
As the bartender approached me she looked familiar and then I realized it was Joy, who was bartending at Rizzi's when we were out on our 19th week of pizza last June! It was great to see her and catch up with her. I kept thinking that Joy reminds me of someone and it bugged me until I started putting this post together and then it hit me. She could be a double for actress Phoebe Cates! Check it out below...
Separated at birth or what? They look like twins! Anyway, it was great to see Joy again and she said she loves working at Connected.
Steve was seated next to me at the bar and told me he reads MBIP, which is always nice to hear. He also said he hangs out at the Red Barn and I'm amazed we've never bumped into him there.
I love the lit-up bottles behind the bar, very colorful!
An impressive chandelier hangs over the bar, just underneath the rustic, wooden A-frame ceiling. There's really a nice atmosphere in here.
This is the main dining room which is opposite the bar.
There's a working waterfall here at this end of it, very cool!
I love the lit-up ceiling and the way it makes you feel like you're in a little Italian village in here.
Meanwhile, back at the bar, it looks like dinner is going to happen at any minute!
Here we go, the salad is served and that's Johnny giving it a liberal dose of cracked pepper from the biggest pepper container I've ever seen! Apparently in here, size does matter!
The salad is mixed greens with sauteed mushrooms on top of it. I'm also having some of the crusty homemade bread that comes with the meal.
The salad is great and the sauteed mushrooms really make it special.
I got two appetizers for my main course and this is the first one: Carpaccio Di Manzo which is thinly sliced filet mignon topped with Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil.
The other appetizer I chose is the Calamaretti Friatti.
The filet is sliced paper thin and really goes well with the cheese shavings that top it.
You can read more about the meal in the review below, but the food here is fantastic. Next time I come I have to try one of the entrees!
After dinner Katie approached me at the bar and said hi and told me she's a faithful reader of MBIP, which is very cool! She also told me that she teaches at Notre Dame high school which is my alma mater back when it was called Bergan High School. We traded stories about school and it was great to meet Katie. That's one of the things I love about doing this blog, all the cool people I get to meet!
Here's the man himself, Troy Ummel, who is the owner and chef here at Connected. He's off to the left and that's his crew next to him that prepared our wonderful meal. Cheers to all of them!
It's near closing time and there's Joy ringing us up before she left for the evening. It was great seeing her again!
I was putting my coat on and Johnny asked me if I could wait a minute before I left because they had a surprise coming out for me. Joy and I had talked about how we both love creme brulee and she had this surprise of flaming creme brulee brought out for me, this is so cool!
I've never seen flaming creme brulee before and check out the plate, it says, "Meanwhile Back In Peoria" in liquid chocolate! How nice is this?
Okay the flame has been extinguished and a dollop of whipped creme has been placed on top, let's dig in...
Oh my god! This is so good! A crunchy caramel topping with cool, rich custard beneath it. Thanks to Joy, Troy and everyone at Connected for a wonderful evening and great food and extra thanks for the wonderful dessert surprise at the end, this was really a great night! We'll see you all tomorrow!
I wasn’t in the mood for anything too heavy, so I got a salad to start with and then ordered two appetizers for the main course. For the salad, I chose the Insalata Con Funghi which is mixed greens in a home-made honey mustard vinaigrette dressing and the salad is then topped with with warm, sautéed wild mushrooms. This is really a tasty and original way to present a salad. The wild mushrooms added a nice warm earthiness to the cool greens and tangy vinaigrette dressing.
The two appetizers followed and just like the salad before, they did not disappoint. The first was a cold appetizer: Carpaccio Di Manzo which is prime filet mignon sliced paper thin and topped with capers and large flakes of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. The dish is then drizzled with lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil. The mixture of the filet mignon which is so thin you don’t cut it, it just rolls up on your fork with the large flakes of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese is a real taste treat and the lemon juice and the extra virgin olive oil top the dish off perfectly. It’s rich and rustic, but also a very light dish.
For the other appetizer I chose one of the hot appetizers, the Calamaretti Friatti. This is squid which is covered in seasoned bread crumbs and then fried to a crispy golden finish. The combination of the soft, chewy squid with the crunchy bread crumbs on the outside made for a nice contrast in texture and the cocktail sauce served with it was homemade and a perfect compliment for the dish.
I didn’t order dessert, but had mentioned to bartender Joy that I love crème brûlée and for a surprise they brought out dish of the flavorful, rich custard, set it on fire to toast the top and the plate was adorned with, “Meanwhile, Back In Peoria,” in liquid chocolate. What a great and delicious surprise!
The restaurant itself has such a cool, dark ambience to it, it really reminds me of a restaurant you’d find on a corner in Little Italy in New York City. There’s brick walls, high wooden ceilings, a massive waterfall stands at one one end of the dining room, while a piano is perched up near the ceiling at the other end. The far wall in the dining room has faux window fronts and doors built into it and add to the quaint and charming atmosphere. Everyone that works here is really friendly and it’s definitely equal parts elegance and fun in here, which is a winning combination.