AP NEWS

Off the Vine now serving coffee, lunch

April 10, 2018

Spring is a time for new beginnings. Unfortunately, Mother Nature seems to be reminding us winter still is in charge and will continue with the blustery weather until she is good and ready for warmth. Until then, let’s enjoy some new beginnings and additions with several of our local restaurants.

Off The Vine in Momence is well-known for its beautiful wine bar and tasting room. They carry a variety of Illinois wines and now some selections from Door County.

I visit Door Peninsula Winery quite often and bring home enough wine to last for a few months, especially during the holidays — they are delicious.

August Hill Winery in Utica is another favorite, especially their Hieland Red. The grapes for Hieland Red once were grown off Hieland Road not far from our house.

If you are a fan of southern Illinois wines, they have them, too. The Champaign-based Alto Vineyard Black N’ Blue is a favorite.

Owners Tony and Debbie Lampley had long dreamed about expanding Off The Vine by opening a coffee bar serving gourmet coffees, and it’s now a reality. Drinks include cold espresso, Americana, café lattes and breves, mochas, Frappe espresso, latte on the rocks and fruit smoothies.

Another dream was serving food to their guests, and they now are open for lunch Monday-Friday, with food from next-door restaurant The Pizza Stone Express. If you’re willing to wait, you can order anything off The Pizza Stone Express menu, or try one of the standard options for a shorter wait time.

Try the all-you-can-eat pizza buffet with soup, salad and a soft drink for $8. There also are Italian beef sandwiches with peppers, chips and a soft drink for $8; barbecue pork or pulled chicken (depending on the day) sandwich with chips and a soft drink for $7; and a chicken salad sandwich with chips and a soft drink for $5.50. Guests can order the soup and salad special for $6.50 with a drink ($4.50 without a drink).

The new hours are 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday; and 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday. Lunch is served from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Off The Vine is at 121 E. Washington St., Momence.

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3 Winds Eatery in Kankakee is introducing a new spring menu: beginning with a minted citrus spring pea pod salad made with spring greens, tangy mandarin oranges, roasted pea pods and julienned sweet peppers. It comes with a choice of grilled chicken or shrimp.

The 3 Winds house antipasto chopped salad looks delicious, with roasted garlic, fresh basil, roasted red peppers, pepperoncini, chickpeas, salami, pepperoni and chopped lettuce, tossed with a zesty balsamic dressing.

One of my favorite appetizers is the cheese fondue with a savory blend of Gruyere cheese, fresh fruits, vegetables and bread.

New to the menu is their rodeo ribeye steak: a 16-ounce marinated steak, dry-rubbed with barbecue spices and a hint of brown sugar, then garnished with onion straws. Enjoy a glass of Boen pinot noir with this tasty steak.

Another unique menu entree is the Imperial Beauty, an Asian-inspired, marinated, giant portabello mushroom, grilled and stuffed with crab and topped with grated Parmesan cheese. The entree is served with a beautiful heirloom Caprese salad and house-made balsamic reduction.

The entrees come with one of several side choices, including garlic mashed potatoes, glazed carrots, roasted veggies, sweet potato fries, root chips or truffle Parmesan steak fries. There also is their outstanding truffle mac and cheese for a slight charge.

Pasta always is an excellent choice, especially with owner Bill Belluso’s Ode to Rose Angelis. This dish inspired by a little Italian restaurant in Chicago that closed a few years ago is made with a house-made mascarpone cream sauce, roasted walnuts and sweet citrus fruit with al dente gnocchi. To add even more flavor, it utilizes dry-cured prosciutto, and is then garnished with fresh basil and scallions. It’s outstanding to say the least!

The Pasta Aglio e Olio, another fabulous pasta dish, is made with capellini pasta, spices, garlic, olive oil with Parmesan, parsley and crostinis. Add chicken, grilled shrimp, pork or beef meatballs to make it even more amazing.

They also have a menu just for kids with hamburgers, grilled cheese, spaghetti and meatballs and chicken tenders.

3 Winds Eatery is at 1230 S. East Ave., Kankakee. Follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, visit 3windseatery.com or call 815-401-7870 for more information.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing fabulous restaurants to take Mom to on Mother’s Day. It’s never too early to make those reservations!