PEORIA — Two25 might just become my new favorite special occasion restaurant.
Located in the Mark Twain Hotel in Downtown Peoria, the restaurant offers an elegant environment for both family gatherings or a special date.
During the day Two25 has quality fare on a moderately priced lunch menu, including a pizza and salad bar for $10. In the evening the prices go up, but so does the wow factor. The evening menu offers a much larger selection of dishes, both classic and creative. And for gluten-free diners like me, there were plenty of options.
During a recent weeknight my companion and I were seated with no wait. We ordered cocktails while perusing the menu. I ordered the Glowing Hummingbird, with Ketel One Oranje, Giffard Vanille, fresh lemon juice, strawberry puree and leaf of fresh basil ($10). My companion ordered the Fuego Mango Margarita, with Gran Centenario Reposado, Chambord, mango puree, fresh lime juice, cayenne and salt rum ($10). The mango flavor came across strongly in the margarita, said my companion, who deemed it refreshing. The Hummingbird reminded me of Sweet Tarts, a flavor I’m not particularly fond of, but the bartender didn’t skimp on the alcohol. The little cocktail packed a fine punch.
We ordered the jumbo shrimp cocktail ($16) since it was the only gluten-free starter. It came served in a martini glass with only five shrimp, but they were truly jumbo, about 3 bites each. Sunk into the cocktail sauce were some pickled carrots and asparagus, a nice, tangy addition.
After much debate — our waiter was very kind about having to visit us multiple times — we finally decided to order the Mediterranean flounder ($29), and the herb-crusted Australian rack of lamb ($39). Both dishes came with salads, but my companion upgraded to the pear salad ($12). It came packed with blue cheese, candied walnuts, cranberries and thin slices of pear.
The entrees came a short time later. The pan-seared flounder was served atop a bed of olives, multi-colored tomatoes, feta cheese and capers. The salty-green flavors of the olives and capers complimented the mild flavors of the tender fish. It was excellent. My companion also enjoyed the lamb, a dish she’d never tried before. She particularly liked the 30-layer potato au gratin which came with it. A signature dish for Two25, it stood about three inches tall. “A nice blend of creamy with a little bit of crunchy on the outside,” my companion said.
We both saved room for desert, and I was delighted to learn that there were four gluten-free options to choose from — gluten-free desserts can be hard to come by. It was a difficult choice — I love flourless chocolate cake — but in the end I ordered the creme brulee ($8). My companion ordered the chocolate mousse topped with raspberry Chambord coulis ($8). Though the raspberry was 'shockingly tart' at first, she said it complimented the chocolate very well. The creme brulee was served in a shallow ramekin. The creamy custard topped with crunchy caramelized sugar and strawberries proved to be the perfect ending to a lovely meal.
Leslie Renken can be reached at 686-3250 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter.com/LeslieRenken, and subscribe to her on Facebook.com/leslie.renken.