Naperville, IL Eats

We had the opportunity to spend a little time in Naperville after the Chicago Autumn Feis and I wanted to mention a few places that may be worth a visit if you are a food fan.

Quigley’s Irish Pub

Guiness SnakebiteQuigley’s is on Jefferson, pretty much in downtown Naperville. It is a nice place and has that dark, wood paneled walls and big booths atmosphere you would find in a pub in Ireland, they even got the smell right. Nice cold pints and some pretty decent Irish food make it a nice place for a beer after a hard morning of feisin’, or for a lunch, dinner or just a snack.

I had a lamb stew with some Irish bread that was pretty good and their chips went really well with the beer. There were some kid options so everyone was able to find something they wanted. I heard the Reuben rolls are worth a trip there all by themselves.

It was a bit pricey for a meal and feeding the family, but a pint and some chips wouldn’t set you back to much. Definitely worth a visit.

Le Chocolat du Bouchard

chocolateLe Chocolat du Brochard on Washington is also downtown, just a short walk from Quigleys. It is easily the most outrageous chocolate store I have ever been in, and has a huge selection of custom confections.

After browsing and asking questions of the extremely helpful staff, we made some selections and then stepped next door to the attached cafe for an espresso to have with our chocolates. In addition to coffees, the cafe has specialty drinks and desserts, and is a perfect ending to a walk around Naperville.

There is a little sticker shock at the price per pound for the chocolates, but it is a nice treat and highly recommended.

Vendor Shoutout – Made by Mare

Wanted to give a special shout-out to the ‘ribbon lady’, aka Made by Mare over at She has a lot of unique ribbon gift ideas and is an absolute joy to deal with. I have purchased a few things from her and she even let me return an item.

If you see her at a feis, stop by and say hi, or visit her at her site,  Be sure to ask about Batman keyfobs, but don’t believe her if she says she has a Guinness keyfob  😉  (inside joke).

Amanda’s Bequest B&B

And now, there is a sequel visit… read about it here.

Up until now, I have not found any feis accommodations worth blogging about, I mean hotels are hotels right? Some are nicer than others, but generally, as long as they are clean, they are really all the same. But when we waited to long to make a hotel reservation, in Muskegon, the weekend of the Irish Music Festival and feis, I just knew we were going to end up in a hotel that was on the less acceptable end of  ‘really all the same.’  I have to say though, we stayed somewhere this weekend that we all liked so much, I needed to blog about it.

Editor’s Note: Sorry for the long winded-ness of this, but its hard to capture in a few words what a wonderful experience we had at this B&B. It may not be the right place for a ‘normal feis weekend’ but was wonderful for us, and it is definitely the right place for a non-feis family, or just the parents, weekend getaway.


The blue coffee pot, no wires, no plugs, good coffee.

Amanda’s Bequest Bed and Breakfast is a hidden treasure. Located in Montague, about 30 minutes north of Muskegon, it is not your typical feis hotel, and that is probably why we loved it so much. We were greeted late Friday night by Valerie, the proprietor, and chief cook and bottle washer, and upon first meeting, she seemed like any typical B&B owner. She did the typical registration thing, and then gave us a quick tour of the home (which had been built in the late 1800’s), with its eclectic furnishings and large kitchen, which reminded me very much of my grandmothers kitchen in Ireland when I visited her as a child.

Valerie had asked about dietary restrictions when we made the reservations, and we told her of TGC’s nut allergies, and that TMC (the male child) had gluten sensitivities, and when she showed us our room for the weekend, she pointed out the nut-free fruit strudel and gluten free brownies she had prepared, and had waiting in our room as a welcoming snack.  If you know anyone who is gluten free, you know how hard it is to find something that tastes good,  but after we got settled, TMC tried the brownie, and as he tried the first bite, he asked, speaking of Valerie,  ‘do you think she would think it weird if I gave her a hug’?


Peach jam sitting on the antique stove.

Before settling in, we told Valerie that we would have to be up and out early, and that she did not need to worry about breakfast. She told us that we were the only guests for Friday night, and she would gladly prepare an early breakfast for us. We were grateful, because you all know how hard it is to get a decent breakfast on a feis morning.

Saturday morning I got cleaned up and went to the kitchen to find Valerie, in a dress and apron, making breakfast.  When I asked about the dress and apron, since she had met us in more casual attire the night before, she told me that it was the proper way to serve guests, and considering the style of the home, I literally felt like I had walked back in time. Maybe it was the homemade jars of jams and vegetables spread throughout the kitchen, or the old stove and blue coffee pot heated on the flame of the stove, or the woman in the dress and apron cooking breakfast, but it was all oddly comforting.


Breakfast day 1

The table was set with an array of mis-matched china that added to the charm. Yogurt with honey and fresh fruit, and a little granola for the wife and I, but not the kids considering their allergies, hard boiled eggs, home-made banana bread and toast (both regular and home made gluten-free), peach jam (home made of course), bananas, orange juice, water, coffee and butter. What a spread, so much nicer than hotel fare, but that was just the half of it. After the yogurt, Valerie brought in plates of biscuits and gravy, with homemade biscuits, including gluten free for TMC, and she had even improvised the gravy recipe to be gluten free. It included scrambled eggs and salsa that had started in the garden the day before. It was all excellent, and, this is embarrassing for someone whose Mum taught him to always clean his plate, but I couldn’t, there was simply to much wonderful food. Oh, and did I tell you the eggs came from the chickens in the back yard? True story. We also met John, the other half of the team, who keeps the physical condition of the home up to par, but Saturday, he kept an eye on us during breakfast and made sure our coffee was topped off and that we were not in need of anything.

Vegetable from the garden that eventually became fresh salsa.

Vegetables from the garden that eventually became fresh salsa.

We went to the feis, spent a few hours at the music festival, and came back to find Valerie and John. We chatted a bit, and got recommendations for dinner.  I noticed fresh jars of plum jam Valerie had made because I had commented I hadn’t tried the peach since I had had an allergic reaction to peaches as a child. She told me she just happened to have plums that she needed to use anyway. Wow.

We returned after dinner to an empty house, so we all went outside to see the chicken, ducks and rabbits in the backyard. We must have spent 45 minutes out there and both the kids loved watching and taking pictures of the animals.

After our time outside we went in and sat in the parlor where TGC checked out the View-Master, a toy from my childhood, while TMC played the piano. Both kids were a little disappointed the jigsaw puzzle had already been completed, and my wife sat on the floor playing with an antique pinball machine. I just sat, and took it all in.

Other guests arrived and we all went outside to see about starting a fire in the fire pit. Thankfully Valerie and John soon returned, and shortly we were all gathered around a nice fire. John brought out beer and wine and we told stories, shared parenting tips, tried to get recipes out of Valerie and just relaxed. The kids hung out with us too, joining in the conversation occasionally. Thinking back, I hardly saw a cell phone come out of a pocket while we were out there.

Breakfast the next morning was basically a repeat of day 1. It started with strawberries and watermelon from the garden, and a warm slice of Depression Era Apple Pie topped with a slice of locally made cheddar cheese. TMC got his own gluten free mini version of the pie. Valerie had talked about how popular this pie was and even has classes just for making it, and she had shared a few of the ingredients around the fire the night before. It was wonderful, and I could taste the flavor layers she had talked about. That would have been enough for breakfast by itself, but that was not to be. Large plates of ‘breakfast bake’ (think of quiche on steroids, gluten free option was also available), fried potatoes, bacon, fresh salsa, and all the extras I listed on day one. Once again, my Mum would not be pleased as I sent back the plate with food still remaining. John kept us topped off with coffee and whatever else we needed, and both him and Valerie checked in on us while we ate.

This is either Larry, Moe or Curly, captured digitally by TMC.

This is either Larry, Moe or Curly, captured digitally by TMC.

After breakfast, the kids enjoyed watching the rabbits, chickens and ducks get the ‘scraps’ and we all laughed as the birds had a dessert of meal worms. And have you ever seen a rabbit hop off with a slice of toast in its mouth? Funny stuff, but not quite as funny as watching two chickens chase a moth. The kids took more pics, learned a little about the different types of birds from Valerie as she fed them, and TGC got a chance to pet the rabbits as they were being fed. TMC also got some pics of the deer that seemed to be ever present on the perimeter of the grounds, literally just yards away.

Shortly thereafter, we packed the car and TMC got that hug from Valerie he had wondered about on Friday night. We told them that we were making verbal reservations for next year for the feis and festival weekend, and after we bought some jam, we were on our way.

So why the long story? From the time we got there on Friday night, till the time we got home on Sunday night, the kids had about 20 minutes of TV. Sure, they had their phones, but a lot of the time when they had them out, they were taking pictures of animals, or people, or other cool things, and they weren’t constantly texting their friends or Facebooking. We all learned some history, facts about nature, how to enjoy the simple things like when us ‘grown ups’ were kids, and gained a new appreciation for basic, wholesome cooking, and we laughed and just enjoyed being a family. I think we will start waiting to long to make reservations more often, never know where it might lead.


Milwaukee Eats

We had an eclectic little restaurant recommended to us because of the filets, and were told they had some gluten free options. Did a quick Google search and found the Via website. Looked good, so we checked it out and were not disappointed.

Via offers plenty of gluten free pizza and pasta options, and the gluten free crust (according to the boy child) was pretty good, which is hard to do. All of us had pizza and it was the best Pizza Diavola I have had in the U.S. I had the opportunity to visit Italy a few times for the Navy and really enjoyed their pizza. These pizzas were more Italian style, made in a brick oven, and were pretty darn good right over here in ‘Merica,

The meal was a bit pricey, but we each had our own pizza, beers for dad, wine for mom, and drinks for the kids. I understand the filets are pretty good too 😉

WTF gives Via on Downer 2 thumbs up!

Cleveland Eats

I mentioned this place in the North Coast Feis Eats review back in February, but we hit it again this weekend and it seemed even better.

253360_10151632564931131_1454533932_nIf you have the opportunity to go to Grumpy’s Cafe  you have to take advantage of it. We went again last Sunday before the Cleveland Feis, got there shortly after 8 and were seated immediately. Good coffee in mis-matched mugs like the type you would find in your cupboard at home, and a homey yet eclectic feel make this a great place for a pre-feis breakfast.

The servings are huge and I had the Jambalaya omelet (see the pic for some of the other omelet options) which was outrageous. They serve most everything with cajun potatoes so if you don’t like spicy, order a different side. The wife had french toast and the girl child had pumpkin pancakes and none of us needed lunch.

This is one of those rare local finds that are nice people making great food at reasonable prices, and if you get the chance, I highly recommend it.

What The Feis Feistaurant Rating = 10 – must visit!

North Coast Feis Eats

When we attended the North Coast Feis we stayed in downtown Cleveland which provided us a nice variety of eats. As I have in past posts on this blog, I wanted to point some of the restaurants out so the next time you feis in the area, you have an idea where you might want to try with a little info to back it up. Anyway, here goes for Cleveland…

Grumpys – We hit Grumpys for breakfast as it was between the hotel and the IX Center and was recommended by the hotel staff. This is one of those local places we were lucky enough to find. Great menu, huge portions of a lot of standard and not so standard breakfast fare, and VERY reasonable. This place will be our Cleveland breakfast place and I highly recommend it!

Flannerys – An Irish pub downtown. Good food, great beer selection, but get there early if there is a game in town. Recommended, but know in advance it is a bit pricey.

Winking Lizard – A definite recommendation if you are a beer fan, a huge selection, a lot of which I had not heard of. Food was excellent and prices were very reasonable. Three of us ate (and drank) REALLY well for half of what we paid at Flannerys. Great Bar food selection and family friendly. Keep in mind the ‘game in town’ rule. We will go back again.

If you found places you like in Cleveland, please add your comments and less share the ‘food love’.

Muskegon Feis Eats

If you head up to the Muskegon Feis I have to recommend an eclectic breakfast place we stumbled across called Toast N Jams. Retro styling in side, nice menu, great food and reasonably priced. One of those local gems you really oughta try.

Feis At The Falls – The Tourism Review

We got to Niagara Falls on Friday night and stayed through Monday morning, so I figured I would add this bonus ‘tourism review.’

Niagara Falls American SideWhat can I say, if you go to this feis, you are literally a short walk away from an impressive natural attraction. We saw the falls every day during our walks and drove down one night to see the falls lit up. If you have never been, its one of those ‘you gotta see it’ places.

Niagara Falls Canadian SideWe stayed on the Canadian side, which actually has more attractions than the American side. You can visit places like Hard Rock (actually on both sides), Planet Hollywood, Margaritaville (which has Alexander Keith’s on tap, a fabulous beer I first had in Halifax where it is brewed), Ripleys Believe It Or Not, and lots of wax museums. If you have ever been to Myrtle Beach, or Gatlinburg, it’s kinda like that, with a Canadian accent. I would consider it a ‘family tourist area’ but tattoo parlors and head shops were evident on the main street. We stayed up on Lundy’s Lane, a few miles from the main area and there were some more mature shops in plain view, if you know what I mean.

Falls ManorProbably one of the most ethnically diverse areas we have visited, there were lots of food choices, 75% of which appeared to be pizza places. We didn’t have a bad meal, and there was lots of good beer. We had a great breakfast up on Lundy’s Lane at Falls Manor Dining Lounge, who claimed to have the best breakfast in town. Considering the crowd and number of locals, and the food, I would have to agree. We also found a great local bar called Chip N Charlies up on Lundy’s Lane that had great wings, pizza, fish and chips and burgers, and was CONSIDERABLY less expensive than all the other meals we had while in the area (including breakfast at Falls Manor and we had beer with our meal at CnC). Worth the drive up the lane.

Our hotel was less expensive but older and would not suit all tastes. There were lots of other options though.

Parking was everywhere, but was between $5 and $15 a day. The good thing is that once parked, you can walk everywhere.

All in all, if you go to the feis and have not been to this area before, I would recommend staying another day or two to have a little fun in there. If you can, get a hotel with a kitchenette to save on eating-out costs because the whole area is pricey, but as the kids say, YOLO.