Sunday, September 29th:
Our friends Reagan and Heather had suggested we head to Delavan for brunch on Sunday morning, specifically Harvest Cafe (www.harvestcafedelavan.com). Delavan, population 1,689 is a charming small town outside of Peoria (about a 30 minute drive).
A farm to table restaurant that specializes in classic American dishes but with the twist of using fresh ingredients and produce from the local farms. After staring at the menu for a good 15 minutes, and wanting to order one of everything, Cate settled on the Harvest Benedict (poached eggs over heirloom tomatoes and kale on a fresh biscuit) and Michelle settled on the Cornelius (fresh eggs, sausage and bread with peach jam that was to die for). Also, Beermosa’s – have you ever heard of something so genius?
After talking to our waitress Jess about our trip, we were lucky enough to have a visit with Kevin Myszkowski – the owner of Harvest Cafe. Kevin, originally from Peoria, spent time in Chicago and Seattle before moving back to Peoria to settle down with his wife. He shared stories of the old and new and gave us ideas of things to see in town as well as a map back through Delavan to The Worlds Most Beautiful Drive (more on that later!).
Harvest is located in part of a larger warehouse building from the 1890s. He has turned the building into a restaurant, wine and beer store, bar and soon to be distillery. We were lucky enough to tour the different components with Kevin who is absolutely passionate about this space and what he does. Which is part of the reason we believe he is, and will continue to be, so successful at what he is doing.
Next to the restaurant is Hometown Wine Shop which carries a large variety of reds and whites, champagne and every craft beer you can imagine. It is not your typical wine and beer store though. As you walk in you are greeted by a cozy and comfortable seating area filled with leather couches and chairs and small tables. It almost feels as if you are in a friends – or your own living room. They have set it up so that you can drink your beer or your wine there among friends (or by yourself). Also, you can buy a bottle of wine at the store and take it over to Harvest to enjoy with your meal – with no corkage fee! How genius is that! As we were walking through, Kevin explained that they are very selective on the wines they sell. Every wine is hand picked and tasted before they decide to bring it in their store. Hey Kevin, is that job opening available – sign us up! Oh did we also mention that they have had rolled cigars for sale?
Next to and connected to Hometown Wine Shop is Exchange Bar. As you walk through the gorgeous wood doors (from the wine shop) you are taken back in time to what feels like an old western saloon from the 1900s. Rich mahogany wood bar resembling a horseshoe, tall wooden bar stools, mirrored bar back. The walls a rich green color, they are filled with old midwestern posters and signs, mounted antlers and low lights. We could spend hours here sipping cocktails and tasting all the crafts beers on tap.
Even the fans in the bar are cool. They work on a pulley system. Check these out!
Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, Kevin offered to give us a tour of their soon to be opening vodka and gin distillery. Neither of us had ever toured a distillery before, let alone really ever been to one. Still under construction, but the main pieces in place, we were in awe at how cool this place was and imagining what it will be in 8 months. Kevin is excited about this place and it is so apparent when he was showing us around and telling us about the plans.
Kevin and his team are the first ever in Illinois to be working on a new process to make the vodka and gin using a special and specific water filtration process. What they are doing is huge and we have no doubt that we will be seeing their names – and gin and vodka – everywhere very soon.
Back in the restaurant we had the pleasure of meeting several folks from the area. Amy, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us and introducing us to your friends
and telling us about the area and what to see. We so look forward to coming back to stay wtih you and sharing more stories, hope the offer still stands!
Kevin, congratulations on such a beautiful creation. Your dedication and passion for your business shines through and is an inspiration to us – to find people like you who so deeply love what they are doing. We cannot wait to be back in eight months for the grand opening of the distillery!
Delavan, thank you for welcoming us with such open arms.