I was traveling across the United States and stayed the night in Mount Vernon IL. I searched Trip Advisor and ended up at Rare. Walking in, I was amazed that such an incredibly classy and attractive restaurant was located here. Rare is the type of place I would expect to find in Downtown Vancouver, Washington DC, Seattle, etc. Not in a very small town out in the middle of southern Illinois. As soon as I walked in, a server who was carrying something past the entrance, stopped immediately, put what she was carrying down and greeted me. She seated me without delay. It was a Saturday night and they had live music playing in the lounge. Just loud enough to be entertaining in the dining room but not overwhelming. The space is incredible. Lots of glass, exposed wood, brick, stone and steel celling trusses give this restaurant an awesome look. I was seated in a great place in the middle area of the dining room facing the kitchen window. The kitchen looked ridiculously clean and well organized. It was obvious that an excellent chef was in charge.
Now to the food. I decided to have the Pork Medallions. Since I like my meat closer to well than rare I asked my server for Medium Well to Well. The wine came at the perfect temp and a short time later my meal arrived. I was amazed at how great my plate looked. When I think of pork medallions I think of small tenderloin cut pieces. There was enough pork on my plate to feed two people. I am not one to go overboard with the hyperbole normally, but this was the best pork I have maybe ever eaten in my life. It was cooked absolutely perfectly and I am not sure of the sauce but it was incredible. It also was very lean. I couldn't get enough. I made sure to tell my server how great it was and when the manager walked by and asked how my meal was I made sure to gush to him as well. The only detriment to the meal was the fact that the accompanying vegetables contained way too many peppers for my taste, as I can't eat them. Having known in advance I may have been able to work around that. But the veggies on the plate that I did eat were cooked perfectly. I managed to finish every bite and then, even though I was stuffed, I couldn't resist dessert as they have Smores on the menu. Intrigued I ordered them. Out came homemade graham crackers, toasted marshmallows in a dish and chocolate melted in a metal dish over a candle. Excellent. It was all I could do not to start taking pics of the food with my phone!
I do hope I have the chance to visit this place again. I worry as it was Saturday night at 7pm and the dining room only had about 8 tables seated. It seems like a tough spot for such a gem of a restaurant. I can only hope it continues to thrive. I have read some reviews that complain about the price. For my meal, including the entree, glass of wine and a dessert it was $40 including the tax. In my opinion very inexpensive for the quality of the food and atmosphere.
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