Last night started out innocently enough. Steve and I met [Greg](http://www.417mag.com/), [Matt](http://www.kerner.net/) and [Sarah](http://beautyschooldropout.net/) for happy hour at [Hickok’s](http://www.hickokssteakhouse.com/). We’d all had long weeks and were looking forward to relaxing at one of our favorite places. Hickok’s has the best brewed beer in town and it’s half price during happy hour. After the first round, we were all feeling relaxed and a bit sassy. I started goading Chris, the bartender, into impressing us in some way to make us vote for him for best bartender in 417 Magazine. Everyone else joined in and the next thing we knew, Chris was inventing a drink for the table. The rules were no vodka (my request), use whiskey (Hickok’s is known for their selection) and no more than 4 ingredients. Our table was located by the bar so we could check out the action. About 10 minutes later, Chris presented us with a lovely coral-colored concoction. The taste was sweet, but very smooth. He’d taken the recipe for a Rum Runner and adapted it for whiskey. He lost points for adding a splash of grenadine for color, but we declared it a success. At this time, we were all VERY happy. Some appetizers and lots of water sobered us up enough so Steve could drive us to dinner. We decided not to stay downtown, opting instead to try a new restaurant on the North side of town.
Everyone piled into our car and headed North to Fire and Ice, a restaurant inside the Oasis hotel. This used to be a Howard Johnson’s about 30 years ago, and has been completely revamped as an upscale, but affordable, hotel and restaurant. What made Fire and Ice compelling for dinner was that Matt and Sarah had recently tried it and said the food was wonderful. Driving to the North side of town is always a little weird. You feel like you’ve left Springfield and entered another town completely. Once we hit Commercial, traffic became heavy with cars stopped in both lanes. As we were crawling along wondering what the deal was, we noticed crowds of people lining the streets. Some were camped out on lawn chairs or in back of pick up trucks. Sarah yelled out, “Hey, what’s going on,” and the response was that they were waiting for the parade of cars. Apparently, there was some sort of car show being paraded down Glenstone. This made all of us laugh for some reason. It was just so weird; so North Springfield. Now, on to dinner.
We arrived at Fire and Ice and I was impressed by the decor. Very modern, but not cold – except for the bar. The bar has a cold section that runs the length of it. Like one of those cold stone ice cream places. Here’s where you can set your drink and it will stay chilly the entire time. Genius! We were seated in a cozy round booth, with high sides, near the bar. We decided appetizers would be the best to order and we’d pass everything around for tasting. Steve ordered an actual dinner of meatloaf because he was curious about it. Their meatloaf is beef and choirizo sausage covered in bacon and served with garlic mashed potatoes. I don’t even like meatloaf and it was delicious! At $9 it was a bargain. The chef at F&I is the grandson of the man who invented Cashew Chicken and ran Leong’s Tea House so I ordered the Cashew Chicken skewers. They were so wonderful! Lightly breaded chicken served with a light cashew oyster sauce and duck sauce (which I didn’t try). I also got a salad which was delicious. Fresh greens, light vinaigrette, grape and gourd tomatoes made for the perfect combination. Matt ordered the Empanadas which were light and spicy. Sarah got crab cakes which we all declared as good, but nothing exceptional. Greg ordered duck, which I cannot comment on since I don’t eat duck, but he also got the seafood bisque. It was divine. So rich it came in a cup and we all had a small sample. It was so flavorful and satisfying that I might be tempted to order it myself.
Because we were still feeling sassy we challenged the bartender to make our new drink, The Steve. We explained the basics and the waitress brought us a sample for our approval. It was a bit heavy on the banana liqueur, but we decided it was good enough to drink. Thank you Matt for buying us the round.
By the time we were ready for dessert the entire table was stuffed. Steve, however, cannot pass up the opportunity to have something chocolate so he ordered the Chocolate Lava Cake with vanilla ice cream. It was rich, creamy and delicious, but his complaint was the raspberry sauce. Steve doesn’t like raspberries, but I liked the contrast of the tartness against the sweetness of the chocolate. Total bill including tip? Our part was $40. Not bad for an evening out. And we were very satisfied. I failed to mention earlier that not only was the food excellent, but the presentation was artful. Everything was lovely to look at as well.
We took a short tour through the hotel to the indoor pool which Steve fondly remembered swimming in as a kid (when it was Ho Jo’s). The place has been completely remodeled with lots of steel, mosaic tiles, waterfalls, and modern lighting. It felt like something you’d see in Miami, not Springfield.
Good friends and great food make for the perfect way to start the weekend.