You’d be hard pressed to find a fair in the United States that doesn’t sell corn dogs. State fairs, county fairs, and local carnivals always include at least one vendor selling the hotdogs enrobed in cornmeal batter, deep fried to golden perfection and served on a stick. But did you know that corn dogs weren’t always served on a stick? Nor were they fried. Rather, they were baked and took quite a while to prepare. Ed Waldmire, Jr., who may have invented the corn dog, first served them at the Cozy Dog Drive-In over sixty years ago. Today, tourists continue to stop at Cozy Dog in Springfield, Illinois, for a taste of nostalgic Americana as they travel Route 66 .
The sea scallops almost melted in my mouth, they were done so perfectly, with a hint of the smoky pork belly that accompanied them offset by the sweet-savory of pear mostada and cider gastrique. Plated on a bed of smoked carrot puree and garnished with miniature carrots and marcona almonds, the dish was as pleasing to the eye as it was to the palate. It’s no wonder that Jordan Coffey, executive chef at American Harvest Eatery, was named the 2013 Best Chef in Springfield by the Illinois Times.
Coffey and his wife, sous chef Aurora, both began their careers at Augie’s Front Burner in downtown Springfield and learned the business from the ground up, starting as a dishwasher and cashier, respectively. Today, at not even 30 years old, Jordan and Aurora partner in the food design and preparation at American Harvest Eatery, Augie’s second Springfield restaurant, a restaurant whose mission is to use only the freshest ingredients sourced from Illinois farmers.
The menu changes seasonally to showcase the seasonal ingredients. For instance, the salad I chose was a beet salad with baby greens, raisins, pistachios and a ginger vinaigrette. Other first course options included autumn ingredients like butternut squash, kale and brussel sprouts.
Desserts are no exception to the goal of using seasonal local ingredients. The dessert menu for fall includes Pumpkin Tiramisu, Pear Butter Sorbet, and Mike’s Caramel Apple Cake, never your ordinary desserts. One dessert I tried was vanilla bean and goat cheesecake with salted caramel, apple compote and honey cashew bleu cheese ice cream.
American Harvest Eatery, open six days a week for lunch and dinner (closed Sundays), is located about 15 minutes southwest of downtown Springfield at 3241 W Iles Avenue. Its strip mall location may seem ordinary from the outside, but once you taste the extraordinary food, you’ll realize why Jacob Coffey was named best chef in Springfield.
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