Dining Out: Cyd’s Burgers on the Boardwalk transports diners to a scene of tranquility

 

 

By Thomas Bruch
Journal Star entertainment reporter

 

“There are very few dining experiences in central Illinois that transport you to a different place, a different setting, a somewhere else. I usually eat a good meal and am wholly aware I’m in Peoria the entire time.

Burgers on the Boardwalk, the annual summer evening meal at Cyd’s Gourmet Kitchen every Wednesday, is one of those times that I’m picked up and taken to another city. The trappings of Junction City from every other day remain, yet somehow the string lighting and waning sunlight at dusk conspire with each other to make me think I’m not there.

 At Burgers on the Boardwalk, the customer constructs their own burger using a seven-step menu (which is online if you want a sense of your options ahead of time). Arriving early is essential as no reservations are taken and each Wednesday frequently attracts a flock of prospective diners.

A guest and I recently got there shortly before 6 p.m. but not at the agreed upon 5:30 p.m. — luckily, our wait wasn’t long. We passed the relatively short time nursing a cocktail and beer, respectively, while chatting inside Cyd’s. A text notification let us know it was our turn for a table, and we were seated on the patio.

Two Daisy Cutters from Half-Acre Brewery were our drink choices ($6.25 each) as we got the easy decisions out of the way prior to poring over the burger options. This included the crispy green beans appetizer ($5.25). It’s natural to feel the external pressure of decision making if this is your first time at Burgers on the Boardwalk. I recommend deep breaths, sticking to your strengths but getting a little risky with the added options.

After careful deliberation, I chose the beef and bacon burger with bleu cheese, tomatoes, pickles, avocado and chipotle mayo ($8). My guest bravely chose the veggie burger in a bowl of greens, topped with feta cheese, tomatoes, grilled onion, avocado, corn relish, chipotle mayo and crispy bacon ($6.50). I, too, lacked the comprehension to reconcile my guest’s choice of veggie burger and bacon but was thrilled with the out-of-the-box thinking.

From there, our meal was a series of rambling conversational points interrupted by our ravings about the quality of the burgers. The only drawback was our appetizer arriving after the burgers — a blessing in disguise as we were much more inclined to devour our burgers than the crispy green beans. My burger, perfectly canvassed in bleu cheese, hardly needed the avocado and tomato toppings but was better off with it. “Everyone in town should have this burger in a bowl of greens,” my guest declared as she was finished. She only wished the other toppings were more dispersed in the greens.

We concluded with the dessert in the jar ($8.75), the dessert being angel food cake with a lemon glaze, blueberries and slices of strawberries. More than adequately filled from the entrée, we managed to enjoy the dessert because of its airy lightness.

More than anything, Burgers on the Boardwalk offers an ideal setting to simply enjoy yourself. It’s usually not too hot as the evening progresses. An acoustic guitarist strums mostly tranquil cover songs. And then after a while, you’ll find yourself blissfully adrift in conversation for a few hours as the summer sun slips toward the horizon.

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

Burgers on the Boardwalk

Junction City Shopping Center, 5901 N. Prospect Road #5A, Peoria

(309) 685-1100

Hours: 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. every Wednesday from mid-May to mid-September.

Ratings: **** is highest

Food: *** 1/2

Atmosphere: ****

Service: ***1/2

Prices: Appetizers, $5.25 to $6; burgers, $6.50 to $8 plus additional toppings; sides, $2.50 to $4.50.

Miscellaneous: Credit cards accepted, no reservations.”