Dining Out: Childers Eatery expansion at Junction City offers fresh vision

By Thomas Bruch
Journal Star entertainment reporter

 

 

“PEORIA — The prospects of a local restaurant expanding, though risky and terrifying for the owner, are exciting to the consumer.

The formula makes sense — successful or beloved institution sees an opportunity for growth or the seedlings of a new idea or a creative vision, and now has a shiny new palette to work with. Sure, some of these expansions flop. But many create a palpable buzz upon opening before settling into a new normal of regular customers.

It’s no different with Childers Eatery. The older and still open location on University Street possesses the diner charms that everyone associates with a hearty, square breakfast. It certainly could have continued as a standalone eatery and flourished.

Clearly, a vision was in place and then fully realized at the new Junction City location that opened last month. It’s got a little bit of everything on the inside: a bar, tables, booths, a wall of plants. When it’s an agreeable day out, which it was this week when a guest and I visited, the doors were thrown open and sun flooded in with a slight breeze that was enough for my napkin to blow off lap on occasion without me growing annoyed.

But Childers Eatery’s best quality has always been the food, whether it’s the breakfast, brunch or an underrated lunch selection. Seriously, there should be some legal ramifications for having tacos and burgers that tasty in addition to the breakfast dishes.

On this particular day, my guest and I were still in the mood for breakfast well into the afternoon. Different items jumped off the page to entice us, namely the breakfast quesadilla and the short rib tostados. But we couldn’t be dissuaded from the more traditional egg meals. I chose the Pork Belly omelet with sides of cottage fries and banana bread ($8.99), while my guest chose the Diablo Benedict with hashbrowns ($9.99).

We then crossed the bridge to the lunch menu for our appetizer, Bacon Gouda Lollipops ($6.99). The enigmatic string of those three words had me curious. As it turns out, the lollipop portion of that equation is basically a sturdier toothpick, but the confectionery delight of a lollipop was not inappropriate. The dish felt like a treat, lightly breaded and oozing with gouda. I have some trepidation of spoiling my main course with a big appetizer — no regrets this time.

Our egg entrees were no slouch, either. The pork belly elements were a welcome presence, and the complementary sprinkles — caramelized onions, red peppers, roasted garlic — kept cropping up like new discoveries as I traversed the omelet terrain. My guest adored the presentation of the Diablo Benedict. Other people took note, too; one person from a nearby table even asked how it was in anticipation of his own Benedict dish arriving.

While there’s no dessert menu at Childers per se (my banana bread more than sufficed in that regard), we were more than diverted by our Italian sodas ($3.50) and the array of flavors sitting behind the bar. I went with the mango flavoring but may have to follow the advice from our waitress and try a combination like mango-kiwi next time.

Have I elucidated the reasons to try out the new Childers yet? Oh wait, there’s one more thing to add — it will start serving dinner later this summer.

Quick Guide

 

Childers Eatery in Junction City

5805 N. Humboldt Ave.

(309) 966-4035

www.childerseatery.com

Hours: Breakfast and lunch served 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. all week. Dinner hours coming soon.

Ratings: **** is highest

Food ***

Atmosphere ***1/2

Service ***

Prices: Benedicts, $7.99 to $11.99; Omelets, $7.99 to $8.99; Waffles, $5.99 to $15.99; Appetizers, $4.99 to $8.99; Burgers, $6.49 to $9.99; Sandwiches, $7.99 to $9.99; Salad Entrees, $8.99 to $9.99; Blue corn tacos, $6.99 to $9.99.

Miscellaneous: Credit cards accepted; online ordering available; cocktail menu; breakfast served all day; dinner hours and menu coming soon; patio seating coming soon.”

Thomas Bruch can be reached at 686-3262 or tbruch@pjstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @ThomasBruch.