There's 12th-century German stencil work above the bar at Embers of the Phoenix, and the old-fashioned elegance doesn't stop there. It extends to the eatery's building itself, dubbed the Bix Biederbecke building, which was built in 1912. The chefs aren't quite as old school as their environs, though. They whip up classic dishes, such as filet mignon topped with blue-cheese crumbles and the house specialty, made-from-scratch cheesecake, along with more modern ones, such as baked fish tacos. The bartenders' pours cover a similar range, from classic red wine to Carrot Cake and Monster Cookie martinis, the 2013 and 2014 winners of HAV Life Foundation's Martini Shake Off! dessert category.
It's great to learn new things and hone dance techniques, but for the instructors and students at QC SoDa?which stands for Quad Cities Social Dancing?it's even more important to make new friends and have a blast. These dynamic rug-cutters use cha-cha, salsa, bachata, swing, and other ballroom styles as a vehicle toward a rollicking great time, cultivating a supportive atmosphere where students get to know each other as well as they get to know the lindy hop. Annual social dances, a Meetup presence, and Friday-night country western dances?with free popcorn?show that QC SoDa dancers are just as focused on making connections as they are on hitting the right steps.
As a fun slideshow demonstrates, The Little Chocolatier’s staff hand makes an array of treats that fall into four categories: candy, chocolates, nuts, and popcorn. Their handmade chocolates pack white boxes with slabs of english toffee, nut clusters, and mint fluffs spread across trays of assorted chocolates. The team also fills bags with fresh-popped popcorn covered in caramel and cheddar.
Sometimes the most satisfying meals are the simplest. Leaf Kitchen's cubano sandwich, for example, a semi-regular special with braised pork and melted swiss, was so good that it inspired Little Village's Scott Samuelson to declare, "a part of me [wanted] to check into some private room to be alone with my sandwich and its sauces." And this isn't the only dish that the restaurant's chefs effortlessly elevate. Their rustic cooking spans breakfast and lunch, ranging from sweet and savory crepes to grilled chicken-club sandwiches, focusing on sustainability as well as simplicity. Meals make use of locally sourced produce and meats, and even the coffee is an exclusive blend crafted by a certified organic, fair-trade roaster.
While the cuisine at Leaf Kitchen is minimalistic in design, the dining space is anything but. Midwest Living praised it by remarking that the "eclectic more-is-more interior offers so much to take in that you may not know where to look first." Servers flit among wood and formica tables set with mismatched dinnerware and clustered with turquoise stools and canary-yellow chairs. These vibrant touches find their complement in a retro-inspired soundtrack of jazz, soul, and world music, which gets knees bouncing without the spring-loaded floorboards used by other restaurants.
The cooks at Quinton's Bar & Deli know the ingredients that make a good Reuben?corned beef, sauerkraut, melted Swiss, and housemade dressing. But they also know the Reuben's extended family, which is why their menu has a section entirely devoted to the sandwich. The Rachel exchanges corned beef for turkey, whereas the Patsy switches in grilled navel pastrami. They can even combine two or three of the meats to create a Combo Reuben with twice the cheese.
Sandwiches in general happen to be the deli's bread and butter. Their most popular is the TAC, which stands for turkey, avocado, and cream cheese. Other options include the beef and brie, whose house-seasoned roast beef is covered with imported cheese, and the Aloha chicken, stacked with grilled pineapple and served in the pocket of a Hawaiian shirt. Burgers make an appearance as well, featuring hand-shaped patties from Bud's Meat in Riverside, Iowa.
And if you'd like some soup with your sandwich, Quinton's serves up the combo with a twist, ladling the soup inside bread bowls. A sizable selection of beers, wines, and spirits?including cocktails with homemade ginger beer?wash down bites.
With a menu loaded with pizzas and calzones, cheesy breadsticks, and flavorful wings, Gumby's ovens satisfy voracious cravings into the wee hours of the morning. The pizza makers start each day by making mounds of dough by hand, which they decorate with more than 15 inventive toppings, such as alfredo sauce, chicken tenders, and feta cheese, to create specialty pizzas and personalized pies. The same hand-tossed dough serves as a foundation for their famous Pokey Stix, which are smothered in garlic butter, Italian spices, and heaps of mozzarella and parmesan cheese, then cut into strips exactly the length of Abraham Lincoln's foot. To complement the bubbling pizzas, buffalo and boneless wings can be tossed in tangy barbecue, honey mustard, sriracha, or one of four other sauces.