Sanibel Spring Break 2009 – Friday


Arrived on time. Waited a bit at the Enterprise counter, got our car, a Toyota Camry. I kind of liked it, Bette found it hard to back up – bad visibility. It had a little storage area in the front with AUX jacks for the MP3 player. Zippy. Nice. Uneventful drive down from Tampa. Took a little side trip to North Fort Myers to see old family friends, Dorothy and Ron, who winter on a golf course and move to Wisconsin in the summer. Not a bad deal. Nice to see them.

Karin and Sam rented a Mitsubishi convertible. The back seats were impossible to sit in, especially with my hip. It was fun in the front seat, though. We ended up driving when all four of us had to go anywhere.

First night dining was at the resurrected Twilight Cafe. We had visited the previous incarnation twice before, and were sad to see it missing last year. They took over the old Riviera restaurant digs on West Gulf and reopened, with the same wonderful marinated grilled broccoli. We met the chef, Chef Robert Parks, who seated us and confirmed, yes, this is the same Twilight Cafe, and yes, they had the broccoli…

Based on a NPR story, Wine critics Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher from the Wall Street Journal said to never buy wine by the glass, cuz you don’t know how old it is. So Sam and I split bottles this trip. For this night, we did a McWilliam Shiraz. And we had the Combo and Mozzarella appetizers.

Karin had the Build your own Pasta, with the Sausage and Bolognese options. She complained that the pasta was not cooked enough and the dish was very wet. Sam had the paella (Shrimp, scallops, grouper and mussels tossed
with saffron rice, peppers and chicken stock), and seemed to enjoy it, even though it was different than the classic Spanish paella. I had a wonderful New York Strip, done rare (topped with crumbled bleu cheese and crispy fried onions with roasted garlic and red pepper mashed potatoes – not South Beach!). Bette had the blackened grouper and loved it.

We left happy (except for Karin, perhaps) and I welcomed Chef Parks, standing behind the bar/counter back to Sanibel. Nice to see a good place come back.

Twilight Cafe,
2761 West Gulf Drive, Sanibel Island, FL

LunaR Brewing Company

While on a mission in Glen Ellyn, we popped over to Villa Park for an impromptu pre-Saint-Patty-Party with Bette’s cousins, one of which has a boyfriend, Charlie, the proprietor of the Lunar Brewing Company, a small neighborhood bar and microbrewery.

The bartender was personable, and cheerfully handed me my two pints of Total Eclipse Oatmeal Stout and four cokes for the rest of the party. I tasted while standing at the bar, and found thick chocolate notes. He agreed and said they use a lot of malt. It was good. He was having some trouble getting the stout out of the tap, but said they were not filtered beers and tended to clog things up occasionally. The stout tasted slightly flat to me; was it just low on CO2? I am not able to answer. Maybe handmade beers are a little less bubbly, but I loved it anyway. Charlie, fill me in…

After a family-and-regular-only dinner (they don’t normally serve food) of corned beef and cabbage and a wonderful NON-South-Beach-Diet Irish grandma recipe of mashed potatoes with onions and something green, I had a McRed Red Ale for dessert – think Killian’s with taste. Wonderful.

Bette was driving, so as I chatted with Cheryl, I got a Raspberry Cream Ale. Yes, it tasted like raspberry, but was very light, not overwhelming like some. Not sweet either. Thick nose, luscious. Bette got a taste and approved. Nice.

The bartender was great, he even made a Margarita (gasp) for Jill which was she said was good. He apologized in advance for its composition, and said, “this is a brewpub, and I mostly just pour beer”. Well said. They also sold some top-shelf Tequila shots, and Cheryl liked those.

Some gentlemen at the next table had snifters of something. I asked them; it was the Neil Armstrong Ale, a 10% kicker. They liked it. I will order one next time before I have three pints.

The place is like an old Chicago style neighborhood place, clean, a few kids running around, and a band was getting ready to play later that evening. Cheryl said that the place is busy on Saturday nights with the live music, but the proprietor is very careful to keep the sound level down during shows (even trolling the venue with a dB meter) which I appreciated. In baseball season, Cubs fans are at one side of the bar, and Sox fans at the other. And check out the cool custom moon-face tap handles. And you could tell the regulars – there were a lot of them stopping in.

Sounds like a great regular place if you are close. We are not, but will try to visit again when in the hood. Just look carefully, it is invisible and everyone drives right past it the first time.

Highly recommended.

LunaR Brewing Co., 54 E St. Charles Rd, Villa Park, IL (630) 530-2077
Roughly E St Charles Rd at Illinois, 2 blocks east of Ardmore.

Williams Street Public House

Out on the run after looking at cars, need some food. We were near Crystal Lake, went to Williams Street again. We were not disappointed.

We are trying South Beach now, so were picky about our selections. I picked steak fajitas, hot, sizzly, good fixins, no fries, just three tortillas. Bette had a Southwest Shrimp Salad, lots of shrimp, nice. We each had one glass of wine. Perfect.

Only problem: Coffee was a little weak. Not as good as last time. We mentioned it to the waitress, who was amazed as they get it pre-brewed in concentrate ala an orange juice dispenser. Mmmm.

Good service. Again, recommended.