Local review: Global Wednesdays at Silvercreek

Photos by Greg Gancarz | At 402 N. Race Street in Urbana, Silvercreek retains all of the charm from the building’s original role as a flower house.

Photos by Greg Gancarz |
At 402 N. Race Street in Urbana, Silvercreek retains all of the charm from the building’s original role as a flower house.

Photo by Greg Gancarz |  Authentic Polish smoked sausage from Chicago and freshly-baked Kolaczki infused with rose petals were some of the unique menu items available on Polish night. Silvercreek’s “Global Wednesdays” will feature a new destination every week all summer long.

Photo by Greg Gancarz |
Authentic Polish smoked sausage from Chicago and freshly-baked Kolaczki infused with rose petals were some of the unique menu items available on Polish night. Silvercreek’s “Global Wednesdays” will feature a new destination every week all summer long.

Greg Gancarz

Staff Writer

The address may say 402 N. Race Street in Urbana, Ill., but patrons stepping into Silvercreek Restaurant on any Wednesday this summer will, at the very least, have their taste buds whisked away to an exotic locale.

Global Wednesdays, the first such event of its kind at the Silvercreek Restaurant and Bar, kicked off in early April with food and drink from Spain. Another recent Wednesday featured the cuisine of Poland.

The Silvercreek Restaurant and Bar, which lies just a few blocks north of downtown Urbana, is nestled away on a piece of land directly adjacent to the local Boneyard Creek, of which the restaurant’s recently constructed outdoor deck provides beautiful views.

The red brick building and its garden-like landscape retain much of the charm and greenery that one would expect from its original purpose as a flower house, including the attached glass greenhouse which was retained and transformed into an outdoor eating area. It was all part of a seamless transformation made by the owner, Allen Strong, when he bought the building.

Strong, who also owns the popular Courier Cafe just up the street, opened Silvercreek in 1989. It has since become a staple of Classic American fine dining and modern cuisine in the Urbana restaurant scene, boasting near perfect average Facebook and Google star ratings.

“[Allen has] always been really into antiques so it kind of translated into the buildings,” Social Media Manager Rebecca Wells, who also writes for local online magazine Smile Politely, says. “They bought this, which used to be a flower house, and they pretty much kept everything original and then just gutted the inside and made it into a restaurant that is still flourishing today.”

The interior boasts a classic decor and ambiance, the ideal picture of timeless American fine dining. With both private booth seating and large tables available for bigger groups in the warm, wood accented dining rooms, patrons can find themselves comfortable whether they’re on a romantic date to impress or are attending a lavish graduation party.

The main event of Global Wednesdays takes place outside, however, on the restaurant’s creek-side deck and charming converted greenhouse. It’s here that customers are able to enjoy the warm summer evenings complete with live music suited to that week’s chosen destination.

Patrons to the Polish cuisine night were treated to the soothing sounds of Leon Lewis-Nicol, a classical pianist from Sierra Leone and current student at Parkland, who was playing pieces from the famous 19th century Polish composer Fryderyk Chopin.

On May 10, when the restaurant will highlight Romanian cuisine, diners will be able to enjoy songs performed by an authentic Romanian vocal performer. Come May 17, live reggae will be played to complement the Jamaican food and drink.

On Polish night, patrons were able to enjoy many of the special menu items. My personal favorite: a plate of savory pierogi, classic Polish dumplings, which were filled with cabbage and a potato and cheese stuffing, all topped with bits of juicy Polish bacon and caramelized onion.

The grilled Polish sausage was another mouth-watering special menu item. The sausages, which were brought in all the way from an authentic Polish butcher in Chicago, were served with a side of Polish sauerkraut. Besides the imported sausage, everything was prepared from scratch right there on the spot as authentically as possible, according to General Manager Grace Clem, a Polish national herself who even took to sporting authentic Polish garb on the night of the occasion.

To finish it all off, I was ordered a famous Polish style cookie; the kolaczki. These were especially unique, however, as they were baked and prepared by Clem’s childhood friend from Poland, who implemented a very unique ingredient.

“She’s a baker and she made them,” Clem says. “What distinguishes them is that she made the jelly from rose petals. The rose petals are brought up from Poland because it’s a particular rose that you can make jam out of.”

The use of the rose petal infused jam in the recipe resulted in a delicious pastry–like cookie with just a tantalizing hint of the flowery flavor, a surprising yet welcome finish to an meal impressive in both flavor and authenticity.

“Next week we’re going to have a wine tasting from France and we’re going to have some French wine so we have it prepared with some French cuisine,” says Clem. When it comes to selecting each week’s unique dishes, she says “we try to do something that will appeal to American orients but also be very ethnic oriented.”

While the dishes chosen for each destination are carefully selected, Clem says there’s really no particular method of picking each “port of call” as they’re referred to.

“We just see what we feel like,” Clem says.

Destinations are revealed on a month by month basis, a practice Wells finds “exciting because I can’t wait to see what they’re going to do next. It’s fun to learn about all the different food too, because I’m a foodie so normally I look at a menu and I know what everything is. And, then I come here and look at [it] and I have to Google half the menu so that was fun. It’s fun for foodies and food enthusiasts.”

As a first time patron of Silvercreek, the intriguing Global Wednesdays were enough to get me in the door, but the excellent atmosphere, beautiful surroundings, and delicious and authentic cuisine will be more than enough to ensure I keep returning, whether it’s for Global Wednesdays or any other day of the week.

Global Wednesdays will continue to occur every Wednesday 5:30 p.m.–7:30p.m. for the duration of the summer.

The month of May’s destinations include France on May 3, Romania on May 10, Jamaica on May 17, Spain on the May 26, and New Orleans on the May 31.

Customers interested in more information are encouraged to visit the restaurants webpage at couriersilvercreek.com/silvercreek, or check out their other social media such as Facebook and Instagram. You can also contact Silvercreek directly by calling 217-328-3402.