One of Bureau County's hidden gems
If you’re looking for a hot, hearty meal that has that home-cooked flavor, then look no further than The Feed Store and Watering Hole in little ol’ Malden, population 362 (if that).
The Feed Store (for short) is the epitome of Midwestern comfort food.
We decided to try a carryout order and while we were bit uncertain about having our meat and potatoes packed in a to-go container, concerned it might not travel well, our fears were eased when we opened the containers back at home to find the food still steamy hot as if it just came from the kitchen.
The Feed Store menu offers a wide variety: pastas, salads (which come with homemade dressings), hand-pattied burgers, fried chicken, rib-eye steaks, baby back ribs and fish. This doesn’t include the restaurant specials that sometimes feature prime rib that attracts customers from far and beyond.
Main entrees come with two sides; one must pick between lettuce salad, slaw, chocolate pudding, baked potato, french fries, broccoli-rice casserole, stir-fry vegetables, steamed broccoli or “real” creamed corn. The options seem endless and it’s difficult to decide which two to pick, because they all seem like great complements to the entrees.
Appetizers and desserts are also a treat at The Feed Store.
We decided to take a shot at an appetizer and ordered the portabella stuffed mushroom, which according to the menu is “a Feed Store original.” The mushroom cap is hollowed out and stuffed with sausage, crab and a three-cheese mix. We split the mushroom in quarters and devoured it. Not to sound cheesy, but the cheesiness in this mushroom melts in your mouth and is to die for. If you’re a mushroom fan, I highly recommend you try out this appetizer.
One of my guests got the special of the night, which was meatloaf (so popular on Thursday nights that you have to call ahead before dinnertime and secure a slice, which is what we did). We all know ordering meatloaf at a restaurant can be risky. It’s one of those main entrees that can easily disappoint if, A) it comes out crusty and cold, or B) wasn't made from a good recipe. We can safely say the meatloaf at The Feed Store doesn’t fall into these categories. The slice came out hot and topped with a sweet, tomato-based glaze. It’s a recipe that tastes just like it came from mom or grandma’s recipe box. No crazy flavor, no frills, just comfort. The meal also came with real mashed potatoes topped with steaming gravy and green beans.
I decided to try out the Bourbon Glazed Salmon, which according to the menu is the restaurant’s most popular entree. I splurged and paired it with a scoop of broccoli and a loaded baked potato that came topped with bacon, green onions and cheese. The salmon was fresh and flaked off on my fork. It wasn’t “too fishy” and didn’t taste like packaged fish, which sometimes is the case when ordering salmon in the Midwest. The fish came brushed with a sweet, bourbony glaze that paired well with the salmon flavor. There’s no question here why it’s so popular. The potato was just like you’d baked at home and was piled with real bacon. I poured melted butter that came with the meal on top and ate every bite of it.
Our third guest ordered from the pasta entrees and chose the tortellini topped with meat sauce, which came with garlic toast and one side, in this case the guest ordered the “real” creamed corn, which might just be the sweetest, buttery creamed corn I’ve ever tried. This isn't creamed corn that comes from the can. I wasn't living until I tried this "real" creamed corn. Wow! If I have any regrets on my meal, it's that I didn't choose the "real" creamed corn as a side. But, there's always next time.
To top out the meal, we decided on a couple slices of strawberry pie – the perfect summer treat. This homemade pie comes piled with fresh strawberries (as if they had been picked that day, but probably not), all topped with a fluffy whipped cream, which complemented the slice perfectly. We were scraping the plates and licking our utensils until the flavor was gone.
With its balanced menu and diverse specials, there's no doubt why The Feed Store is so popular with those in the know. It is considered one of Bureau County's hidden gems.
• The Mystery Diner is an employee at Shaw Media Illinois. The diner’s identity is not revealed to restaurant staff when ordering or picking up the food. If the Mystery Diner cannot recommend the establishment, we will not publish a story.
IF YOU GO
The Feed Store and Watering Hole
WHERE: 212 W. Main St., Malden