On a Monday night "date night" a few weeks ago, Cindy and I decided to drive over to the venerable Belgian Village Inn in Moline to get a Vandereuben sandwich. (Click here to see my entry on the Belgian Village Inn.) A severe thunderstorm had come through the area earlier in the day and as we got over to the Olde Towne neighborhood in Moline, we saw that a lot of places didn't have power. When we pulled up to the Belgian Village, it was dark inside. Not knowing what to do at that point, we started to drive around thinking of alternatives. Finally, Cindy suggested a newer place that I'd driven by a couple times over by Augustana College in Rock Island - Legends Corner. She said that a co-worker had been there with her husband and they thought it was pretty good. "And they have Cajun food," Cindy said. We pointed the car in the direction of Rock Island and took off for Legends Corner.
Legends Corner opened in November of 2012 in a building that previously housed Mexican and Chinese restaurants, but was originally a Henry's Hamburgers location. Henry's Hamburgers was based out of Chicago and was a precursor to McDonalds in terms of fast food restaurants in the Midwest. Once McDonalds became the rage, Henry's would open in locations where McDonalds deemed the market too small. Rapid growth in the 60's for Henry's gave way to massive closings in the 70's. Today, there is only one Henry's Hamburgers still in business in Benton Harbor, MI.
Greg Hiner is a school teacher by day and a bar and grill owner by night. Along with his wife, Deni, the two ran Legends bar and grill in Aledo, IL. Hiner is a native of Rock Island and he grew up near the corner where Legends is today. When the opportunity to buy the building and start a second Legends restaurant near where Greg grew up, the Hiner's jumped at the chance. When Legends Corner opened last fall, the Hiner's daughter, Cara, was the manager of the restaurant.
We pulled into the decrepit parking lot at Legends Corner at the corner of 30th Street and 7th Ave (see map) around 6:30 p.m. (Note to Legend's Corner ownership - FIX YOUR PARKING LOT!) We found a seat in the adults only bar area up front in what looks to be the original part of the building. There's also a dining area for all ages off to the side that appears to be an addition to the building at some point. Flat screen televisions and sports memorabilia dot the walls at Legends Corner.
Our server came over and dropped off a couple menus. She asked what we we wanted to drink and Cindy looked up at a sign on the window and she said, "Hey, look! They have (Kona) Big Wave Golden Ale on tap!" My favorite beer! I immediately liked the place and from then on out, I figured they could do no wrong in my book.
Well, not so fast...
Cindy was correct in saying that Legends Corner had Cajun food. Only the menu called it their "Kajun Korner". They also had the prerequisite appetizers, salads, burgers, sandwiches and wraps on the menu. One thing that caught my attention was a special they had that evening on boneless chicken wings. You got 8 boneless chicken wings for $5.99. I've been on kind of a chicken wing kick as of late and I thought that would be a good appetizer. The only problem was that Cindy didn't want any. So I thought I'd get the boneless chicken wings and some of Legends Corner's gumbo. I saw that it came with something called "Legends Sauce". I asked our server what that was and she said, "Oh, it's a combination of ranch, blue cheese and Buffalo sauce." All right, I'll give it a try.
Cindy also went the Cajun route and ordered their jambalaya. She also got a side of collard greens to go with her jambalaya keeping her pledge of eating something green in color to go with her dinner.
More people began to filter into Legends Corner while we were waiting for our food to show up. Some of them were people whose power was out and looking for a place to eat and get out of the muggy air for a bit.
There was a bit of a communication error with my order. I thought we were getting the boneless chicken wings as an appetizer. But they didn't come out until the rest of our meal showed up. It was no problem, however. The boneless chicken wings looked more like large pieces of chicken nuggets doused in the Legends sauce. The chicken was meaty and tender. And I liked the combination of the Buffalo wing sauce with the ranch and blue cheese dressing that made up the Legends sauce. I munched on the boneless chicken wings in between bites of my gumbo.
The gumbo was served on a flat plate over a bed of steamed rice. The broth was thick like gravy. The basic taste of the gumbo was all right. It had chunks of chicken and shrimp in it and while it was good, I've had better. Four half slices of garlic toast came with the gumbo and I'll have to say they were very good. Probably the best tasting thing on the plate.
Cindy's jambalaya looked promising with large chunks of chicken and andouille sausage. However, Cindy has some problem with chicken that has been cooked and then microwaved to heat up. She determined that's what they must have done with the chicken in her jambalaya. She complained that the chicken wasn't that warm and that it had a rubbery taste. She offered me a bite and I had to concur with her. The chicken was sort of overdone, sort of lukewarm and sort of tough to chew. But after having a bite of the andouille sausage, it was, quite frankly, outstanding. I wanted to find out where they source their andoullie sausage at Legends Corner because it had a wonderful spicy flavor. But the great andouille sausage couldn't make up for the disappointment Cindy had with the jambalaya.
She offered me a bite of her collard greens. The warm greens had a vinegar taste to them that helped with the taste. I'm not big on collard greens, but Cindy's been eating a lot of kale as of late and she knew that collard greens and kale were of the same cultivar group. She seemed to like them.
I ate all of the boneless chicken wings (well, Cindy did try one - she liked it) and a good portion of my gumbo. Cindy ate a good portion of her collard greens and about half of the jambalya, leaving most of the chicken and a few bites of andouille sausage that she let me have. The andouille sausage was outstanding.
A couple three weeks later, we went back over to Legends one more time. This time, the restaurant was a little more busy and there was only one server working both the bar and the dining area. Service was slow that evening and we had to wait a little longer for service than the first time we were in.
After contemplating getting the muffaletta sandwich - then talking myself out of it knowing that I'm forever spoiled with the muffaletta sandwich I got years ago at the famous Central Grocery in New Orleans - I got the mushroom/Swiss cheese burger basket with fries. I asked our server, Jaymie, if I could get some bacon on that, as well, and she said it would be no problem. Cindy ordered the Cusabi salmon sandwich on flat bread. It was a grilled salmon filet topped with a cucumber/wasabi sauce.
It took well over 30 minutes from the time we ordered to the time we got our food. A younger couple sitting at the table next to us was experiencing the same problem and they were getting overly annoyed at the wait. It was a little too long to wait for food, no matter what kind of place you were eating at.
My burger looked promising with crispy bacon, sliced fresh mushrooms and a good amount of Swiss cheese on top. But looking at the burger, I could tell that it was overcooked and appeared to be sitting under a heat lamp for more than awhile. I'm guessing that happened due to only one server in the place and they probably finished my burger long before they finished my wife's salmon sandwich. The fries were basically a throwaway - I should get cottage cheese instead of fries when I order burgers like this.
Actually, the burger did have some flavor to it, even though it was slightly overcooked. The Swiss cheese gave it good flavor and the sauteed mushrooms were tasty, as well. The bacon was a nice complement to the burger. And the bun was very good, too. It was light, tasteful and chewy. It held together with all that was going on with the burger. Still, as I said, the burger was overcooked and a little dry. I'd give it a B- if I were grading it.
Cindy's Cusabi salmon sandwich came on what was nothing more than a pita. It looked like 4 to 6 ounces of grilled salmon topped with the cucumber/wasabi drizzle. Two large tomato slices and some greens completed the Cusabi salmon sandwich. At first, Cindy thought she needed a lemon wedge, but after eating a couple bites with the Cusabi drizzle, she decided that it was fine. I asked her if it was fishy - I could kind of smell that fishy smell in the air - and she said, "A little, but it's not bad." After she finished, she said, "Ah! It was all right. I don't think I'd get that again."
Legends Corner was all right. I think they're trying hard, but they just don't pull it off in terms of culinary excellence. If you go into the place thinking that it's nothing more than a sports bar with an interesting menu, you'll be fine. Just don't expect those interesting menu items to be anything exquisite.