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Make your mouth water by the water

A dining room with a view.

There is no better way to capture the essence of the real Quad-Cities than to dine at a riverfront restaurant. Better yet, there are two rivers to choose from, each offering its own ambiance, be it the nonchalance of the Rock or the grandeur of the Mississippi.

One of the best ways to tour the Rock River restaurants is by bicycle. The Moline Kiwanis Bike Path is well-marked, wonderfully maintained and spans the width of the Moline riverfront, beginning at Len Brown's North Shore Inn and ending at Poplar Grove.

Start at Len Brown's, at the bottom of 7th Street, for a drink and snack.

Then bicycle down to Harold's On the Rock, just 15 minutes away. Harold's North lodge ambiance with its full bar and eclectic menu -- featuring several kinds of wild game as well as steaks and seafood -- makes it a must-stop.

After Harold's, remount your bicycle and head for the Croatian Crest Club. Its friendly bar opens every late afternoon during warmer months. On Fridays, they serve what may be the best catfish dinner in town, with baked potato, cole slaw and roll for around $5.

Heading east, you're in for the best scenery of the ride. You'll meander through an amazing natural marsh, untouched by industry, that offers up blooming aquatic plants (depending on the time of the season), ducks, geese, herons and other birds. Down the path is a stretch along the riverfront heavily wooded with giant oaks.

You'll eventually land at Poplar Grove with its timeless rustic rivercamp atmosphere. The bar doesn't open until late afternoon when the restaurant begins serving up the best hand-breaded tenderloins in town.

There never seems an end to wonderful out-of-the-way eateries tucked along the backwaters and byways of the Mississippi. They range from casual spots with docks for boaters to formal dining.

Beginning down river on the Iowa side, there is Walt's Fairport Inn, near Muscatine, a longtime favorite of boaters. Walt's has all kinds of sandwiches and slow-roasted chicken that melts in your mouth.

Upriver from Walt's is the Enchanted Inn, 4815 S. Concord St., on Davenport's west end, on quaint Enchanted Island. The restaurant is a treasure, but only serves food on weekends, beginning with a grilled sandwich menu at 11 a.m. and adding a full menu with chops, steaks, Henny Penny chicken and the like in the evening.

The Dock, at Lock and Dam No. 15 in downtown Davenport, has long been serving up seafood and other Midwestern favorites. They have, without doubt, the best riverfront view in the urban Quad-Cities. Winter is actually the best time to get a seat by the window and watch the eagles as they dive for dinner.

Upriver from the Dock is the Boat House, 1201 E. River Drive. It serves wonderful roasted chicken, sandwiches and other casual fare.

Steventon's, way up river and high on a bluff near LeClaire, has a panoramic view of the Mississippi channel. Its elegant menu includes tableside specialties such as Caesar salad, Chateaubriand and Bananas Foster.

More elegant dining can be found at Francescon's, in downtown LeClaire. Nearby is the rustic Sneaky Pete's, a longtime favorite spot for boaters. It offers oak-grilled steaks and burgers.

The legendary cafe, Faithful Pilot, is farther up the road, offering original pastas, salads, appetizers and homemade breads and desserts. The last stop on the Iowa side is Kernan's, offering full menus in its upstairs dining room and casual food in the basement.

Across the river in Port Byron is G's Riverfront Restaurant. Back into Moline, riverfront dining is available at the Captain's Table and T.G.I. Friday's.

-- By Lisa Mohr (February 2, 1998)

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Copyright © 1998 Moline Dispatch Publishing Company, L.L.C.
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