Mick and Mary's in Thayer is worth the drive

With all due respect to the fine people of Thayer, it’s not a location that’s top of mind for a nice dinner out. But that may be because they haven’t heard of Mick and Mary’s.

Mick and Mary’s has had different owners over the years, and the place has ebbed and flowed. My personal favorite was when the restaurant included a hot tub. That’s long gone now (thankfully), and Mick and Mary’s is definitely in the flow state.

The restaurant is only open for dinner Wednesday through Sunday. The place is not fancy, but it’s clean and has nice lighting. There’s a bar – which is quite popular and includes video gaming – and banquet space that’s available for events.

We visited on a Saturday night without reservations. That was a mistake. Mick and Mary’s was packed, but the wait was only 15 minutes. We enjoyed a cocktail while we waited. The owner was hands-on and proud of his establishment and staff.

Once seated we refreshed our drinks and nibbled on some crackers while deciding what to start with. We ordered chicken gizzards but were tempted by the catfish fritters, livers and the breaded pork bites. It was a generous helping of gizzards; a few were on the tough side, but we were pleased overall.

With a large banquet going on in the back and every table occupied, we imagined the kitchen was slammed. Although it took a little longer than usual for our appetizer to come out, we weren’t bothered at all and we didn’t have to rush our conversation.

One of the things I love about Mick and Mary’s is that you’ll never go hungry. All entrees come with a well-sized dinner salad, a choice between cottage cheese or applesauce, and a choice between potato or spaghetti (corn was available for our visit). Couple that with generously-sized entrée portions, and the table was laden for three of us. We ended up with a few to-go boxes.

Mick and Mary's prices are quite reasonable for what you get. Entrees run between $12.95 (spaghetti plate) to $24.75 (shrimp dinner). With rising food prices on so many items, we speculated that Mick and Mary’s priced some items (like the ribeye and filet) at market price because the menu would have to be updated as each item rose in cost.

Fried chicken, pork chops, steaks and a variety of seafood make up most of the menu. There’s also a stream of weekend specials posted on the Facebook page. Recent specials included a wagyu ribeye, steak and shrimp and oysters on the half shell or Rockefeller-style. The night we visited, one special was the Sinatra Steak, a 10-12ounce bacon-wrapped filet, with mashed potatoes and asparagus, topped with a steamed lobster tail and covered with lobster cream sauce. Decadence personified. Of course, this being central Illinois, there’s also a ponyshoe and horseshoe. The gizzard and lizard shoes caught our eye and is something we might try on our next visit. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen those options on a menu. Good for you, Mick and Mary’s.

For entrees, we went with the whole catfish, the fried chicken and the two-pork chop dinner. But first a word on sides. I’m a big fan of the spaghetti. As an analogy, think of it as the equivalent of tavern chili – a little grease makes everything better. The cottage cheese and applesauce were reported as just fine. Still, it’s hard to really elevate those dishes. The hand-cut fries nearly filled an entrée plate and the baked potatoes were also generously sized.

I'm a sucker for pork chops. Mine were well-seasoned and juicy, but with a nice crust. I’d come back just for those. The whole catfish was golden brown and reported as well-seasoned and not dry with a nicely breaded coating. So, too, with the fried chicken.  My friend got dark meat. I could hear the crunch of the crust, and it was also readily apparent that the meat was good and juicy. He went with the mashed potatoes and corn to complete the theme of a good country meal.

All in all, Mick and Mary’s delivers solid food that tastes good in a friendly setting.  There needs to be more places like this. So, give Thayer a chance and visit Mick and Mary’s and let us know what you think.

Address: 310 E. Ebony Street, Thayer

Phone: 217-965-2163

Website: On Facebook (if the owner reads this, please make an effort to keep an updated menu on your Facebook page)

Hours: Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday 4 p.m. - 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday 4 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.

Wheelchair Access: Yes

Credit Cards: Yes


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