April 10, 2007

Cracklin Jake's Restaurant

By WEEK Producer

July 13, 2010 Updated Jul 13, 2010 at 2:30 PM CDT

A restaurant in little Banner, Illinois is drawing a crowd from miles away.
Eric Shangraw shows you what all the fuss is about at Cracklin' Jake's Restaurant in this week's You Gotta Eat.

Cracklin Jake's Fine Food and Spirits looks like a wilderness restaurant on the north side of Route–24 in Banner. Hunting trophies are mounted on the walls. –But no wild game on the menu. Cracklin Jake's is truly fine dining in Fulton County. Canton resident Ari Lleshi and his brother partnered with the buildings' owner, Bud Grieves, to try and entice the locals from going all the way to Peoria for a first class meal.

We do have a Bison Stroganoff on the menu to add to the atmosphere. The menu is very traditional. All the items are made from scratch. Homemade, said Ari Lleshi.

Photographer Doug Smith and I started with onion rings. –Thinly sliced, lightly battered served on a bed of lettuce. Good onion ring presentation, if there is such a thing. I sampled the Red Pepper Gouda Soup. It has a nice balance of competing tomato and cheese flavors... Gouda can overpower the palate. Not a problem here. Doug ordered the "Cracklin" best seller: Fried Chicken marinated for 24–hours before its' cooked. Doug is rumored to use ketchup on his chicken. He didn't feel the need to embarrass me with any tomato–based antics in Banner. I had Jambalaya. They use a traditional Louisiana recipe with Andouille sausage, jumbo shrimp and a sprinkle of cayenne pepper. –This is an authentic Creole creation. Our bill: $38.61 plus tip. They tempted us with a bread pudding. It comes from a 100–year old recipe and includes a splash of bourbon.
Our next bramble to Banner will include a stop at Cracklin Jake's just for dessert.

Cracklin Jake's serves dinner Tuesday through Thursday. 4pm-close.
–Both lunch and dinner Friday, Saturday and Sunday 11am-close.

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