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First Look: Elijah P’s in Alton

May 12th 02:05pm, 2015

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Alton is experiencing something of a foodie renaissance of late, with recent openings that include the massive Old Bakery Beer Co., the petite Spoon Baking Co., and the rockin’ bar-music venue Shakers. Now a new restaurant has entered the downtown scene: Elijah P’s quietly opened doors at the end of April, serving up creative burgers, hearty appetizers and plenty of suds.

As The Scoop reported in March, owner Russ Smith named the restaurant, located at 401 Piasa St., for Elijah P. Lovejoy, the Alton newspaper editor and abolitionist murdered by a pro-slavery mob in 1837. The name is just one nod to the river town’s past. The walls of the 8,000-square-foot eatery are decked with framed maps and prints extolling attractions and historical events from the 19th and early-20th centuries, and even the 17-seat bar was restored from a 1930s riverboat.

Smith, who co-owns Alton nightspot Bossanova, completely renovated a former furniture store, dividing the space into a 100-seat dining room, a private 70-person party room and a gaming room that will soon see video poker machines. Outside, a full 2 acres sees a 100-seat pavilion and ample parking.

Bossanova chef Jarvis Putnam also helms the Elijah P’s kitchen, creating a menu of familiar dishes with creative twists like house-made toasted ravioli breaded with crushed walnuts and pine nuts and served with a tomato-vodka sauce. Ten burgers are offered, all served on buttered house-made buns.

Sixty tap handles and 70 whiskey bottles gleam behind the bar. Two house cicerones have curated a wide selection of draft and bottled brews. Local heavy hitters like Civil Life and Urban Chestnut pour alongside local nanobreweries, such as Alton’s Templar and Scratch Brewing from Ava, Illinois.

Elijah P’s is currently open from 4 p.m. to midnight Tuesday through Thursday, and until 1 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. Here’s a first look at what to expect at Alton’s newest restaurant:

 

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-photos by Michelle Volansky 

By Catherine Klene

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