by Nicole Watts
Salt (www.saltpeoria.com) is located in Peoria Heights at 4542 N. Prospect Rd. Salt is without a doubt, my favorite restaurant in Peoria and my default location for celebrations! It has a quiet ambiance and friendly and attentive staff. Both the lunch and dinner menus are delightfully delicious.
From the lunch menu, I recommend the fish tacos or any of the salads.
The dinner menu changes seasonally with a solid collection of standard menu items. The Airline Chicken Breast and Crispy Duck Leg have been around for a while. My most recent trip to Salt, I finally tried the Poutine, which is described as “Pulled ale-braised beef atop a mound of hand-cut French fries, rich brown gravy and white cheddar cheese, topped off with an over-easy farm fresh egg and scallions.” I was a bit intimidated by the portion size, but was happy that I had enough to share. The fried deviled eggs are another must. I’ve ordered them almost every time I‘ve gone to Salt. The meal doesn’t seem complete without them. They have a nice wine selection and their cocktails are always fabulous. Looking over the menu as I write this article, I think I may end up there this weekend to try the Salt Crusted Beef, or maybe the Faroe Island Salmon, or maybe the Vegetarian Ravioli. My only complaint about Salt is that the menu does seem stale at times. If it were changed up more often, I would cook at home less.
Sugar (http://www.sugarpeoria.com) is located in the Warehouse District at 826 SW Adams Street in Peoria. We stopped in for salad and a pizza over lunch. Service was on the slow side for a quiet Saturday, but the atmosphere was nice with a hip, trendy décor and sliding barn doors.
A salad and pizza were a nice portion to split for lunch. Quattro Carni (Four Meat) Pizza is made up of ground pork, veal, beef, bacon, tomato sauce, and mozzarella on a made from scratch dough. It paired nicely with the Caprese Salad (fresh mozzarella, tomato, basil, romaine, balsamic reduction.)
Everything was fresh, but I was thankful for the hot sauce selections on the table as I felt that the pizza was lacking in flavor. The tomato sauce seemed bland. I have heard rave reviews from numerous people, so maybe this batch of sauce wasn’t up to the usual par. The entrees looked intriguing and I’m sure they measure up to the standards of Cracked Pepper. It would be very difficult to meet the high standards set by Salt, but the BOURBON MARINATED STEAK with roasted baby potatoes and wood fired vegetables sounds like it might be close.
Cracked Pepper (www.crackedpepperpeoria.com) has two locations: 3406 NE Adams and 311 S Main Street, both in Peoria. I have only been to the one on NE Adams. It is usually pretty busy but orders come up quick. Lunch is always good. They have great soups, salads, and sandwiches. The call ahead option is great if your travels are taking you over McClugage Bridge around lunchtime. I love their Roasted Tomato Soup and Cuban Panini. Everything I have tried on the lunch menu has been consistently good.
To my surprise, I was not impressed with their breakfast offerings. The egg in my sandwich seemed microwaved. They do have a wide variety of trendy doughnut flavors that seemed to be very popular with the Saturday morning regulars that came in.