Last night I joined several local bloggers for a delightful meal at Two25 in the Mark Twain Hotel in downtown Peoria.
The company was very nice and the meal was fabulous.
Shortly after I arrived at the restaurant, the gracious and handsome manager, Shane White, came by to talk to the group; he was joined by co-owner (and hottie boombalottie) Bob Eid, who also owns One World Cafe. They talked about the highly qualified employees they have assembled and the care, time and attention that was taken in planning the menu and the wine list and alcohol selection.
Since I consume about two alcoholic beverages per year, it went a bit over my head. But the other, more sophisticated, (presumably non–Boone’s Farm -drinking) bloggers were very interested and found the wine selection to be comprehensive and impeccable.
I concentrated on the menu; it was really difficult to make a decision, as everything sounded delicious. When our delightful and cute server, Sam, arrived at my side to take my order, I was still at the “Umm… Umm.. I’ll have, umm…” stage. He kindly offered to skip me, giving me an opportunity to further peruse the menu.
Ultimately I decided to order a small pear salad and the shrimp and goat cheese pasta. My dining compatriot PAFSordered the calamari and graciously shared it with me. I have a love/hate relationship with calamari. I hate the fried chewy circles that are offered at many establishments; they typically have the texture and taste of fishy rubber bands. I was delighted to find that Two25’s appetizer contained hand-cut strips of calamari steak. Thus, no chewy texture and a delectable taste.
Ms. PH cordially shared her escargot, which was served in a garlic butter sauce sans shells. I enjoyed the combination of crispy crustini, flavorful sauce and the texture of the escargot, which was tender rather than leathery.
The pear salad was perfectly sized and contained mixed greens, blue cheese, pear slices, candied walnuts and dried cranberries. The dressing was a mild tasting strawberry vinaigrette and the salad was presented with a lovely sliced and fanned strawberry at the center. The combination of the fruit, nuts and blue cheese was delightful. The blue cheese was not overly pungent and gave the salad a nice balance of sweet and salty, I daresay even blue cheese haters would enjoy this salad. I did feel that the dressing could have used a dash more acidity, but likely that is personal preference, rather than a fault in the preparation.
My entree, the shrimp and goat cheese pasta, was a substantial portion. (Or maybe I was just getting full from mooching everyone’s appetizers?). It contained penne pasta (which I will call “Tube shaped” when I discuss it with my co-workers), grape tomatoes, fresh basil, colossal-sized shrimp, creamy goat cheese, seasoned bread crumbs and a white wine sauce. I really enjoyed this flavorful pasta dish; the shrimp was perfectly cooked-a trend I noticed in each dish I tasted at Two25-and the combination of goat cheese, bread crumbs and white wine sauce was outstanding.
Diet be damned, because every good reviewer MUST order dessert. It’s mandatory. And one musteat every bite to get the “full experience,” I do believe. Thus, I sacrificed my waistline and succumbed to the temptation of the chocolate mousse with raspberry Chambord sauce. It was smooth, rich and chocolate-y. The sauce was the perfect accent, as was the swirl of whipped cream. It was George Clooney, no, even better, Bob Eid in a bowl.
If you hadn’t already guessed, I really, really enjoyed my meal at Two25. I would highly recommend that you visit it (often!), due to the local ownership, great service, pleasant ambiance, welcoming atmosphere and outstanding food. And if you are extremelylucky you might spot handsome co-owner Bob Eid.
(And I really hope that everyone left Sam, our hot, hard-working and hospitable server a sizable tip!)