Location: Inside Days Inn in Mattoon, IL on Broadway Ave
When: Saturday night dinner
What we got: People Pleaser (appetizer sampler with mozzarella sticks, onion rings, fried mushrooms (got these instead of the listed egg rolls?), chicken tenders, chicken wings (with your choice of 6 sauces, we got mild buffalo) and All You Can Eat Ribs (Saturday night special) with skewered vegetables and home-made chips
The food was the best thing about Cityscapes. The appetizer sampler allowed us to try a bunch of different things. Granted they’re usually things that are hard to screw up, the People Pleaser offered a wide variety. Although it lists egg rolls on the menu, we instead received fried mushrooms. That’s a big negative for me since I don’t like mushrooms at all but my wife enjoyed them. The onion rings were good and the breading was plain, not the beer battered variety. I prefer the plain onion rings since beer battered can pretty easily be screwed up with too over-powering beer flavor. The chicken tenders were good but just not the preferred crunchier, breaded variety. Instead they were the smoother, battered variety of chicken tenders.
The last comment about the appetizer platter is about the chicken wings. We ordered the mild buffalo sauce. It was a good flavor, not too spicy. It wasn’t my favorite buffalo sauce but it did the job. The bigger problem with the wings is that the sauce ran all over the rest of the plate, under the other food. So while the other items soaked up the buffalo sauce, it seemed to only get skin deep on the chicken wings. Serving the wings in a bowl would work much better for a plate that could be shared so that nothing else is overpowered by the sauce and doesn’t get soggy. Everything else not mentioned from the sampler was good and as expected.
The wings sauce highlighted one problem with the menu though. Too often the food description was trying to be witty but just added to its length and confusion. The People Pleaser said “the only decision you have to make is whether or not to share.” However, that’s incorrect because you have to choose what sauce you want on your wings. Because of that, you have to look at a different entry on the menu to find out what your options are for wings sauces.
All you can eat (AYCE) ribs is Cityscapes’ Saturday night special. It’s a great deal for $9.99 if you bring your appetite. The meat was falling off the bone and it’s covered in a good barbecue sauce. Although ribs are usually a dangerous item to order unless you don’t mind getting some sauce on your face and your hands messy, it comes with some moist towelettes. With the meat falling off the bone, I was able to knife & fork a good amount of the meat which worked just fine.
For my sides I got the skewered fire-roasted vegetables and the home cut chips. The veggies were good, retained their flavor, and were softened by the grilling. The home-cut chips were the biggest winner out of everything we ate that night. The chips were perfect. Thin, crisp, browned, flavorful – there were no complaints about the chips except that I ran out eventually.
With an all you can eat meal, you hardly have to complain about portions. The sampler was more than enough for a meal and the ribs were very filling. I got a refill of ribs to make the AYCE worth it and the second batch was just as good as the first.
We’re looking forward to our next visit to try some different items on the menu. We’re particularly looking forward to trying the homemade freedom fries (yes, that’s what they’re called on the menu) after seeing a plate of them walk past us. They looked like the chips with just the right amount of crisp to them.
The environment of Cityscapes was that of a nice sit-down restaurant. With booths along the edge and tables in the middle, the layout was as you’d expect though it did seem a little random with the table distribution and some seating stretching behind a bar area. The restaurant was very presentable. You walk into a nice waiting area with the Cityscapes logo prominently painted on a wall. Along the seating area, the restaurant has a good balance of being decorated but not to the point of being tacky.
The restaurant seating intersects the hotel at the atrium so the seating along the wall has windows looking into a nice open area but with the pool on one side. There were some kids playing in the pool while we were there and unfortunately the open, echoing atrium carries the noise right to the other side of the window.
Service was the only area that really dragged Cityscapes down in the review. We were helped and seated right away. The restaurant was mostly empty when we walked in and mostly full when we walked out. The first thing against the service was where we were seated. With plenty of open seats, we were seated in the booth adjacent to the only other taken table which happened to host some outspoken individuals. Just being seated one or two tables further away would have been a much better start.
Beyond the seating, service also took a hit thanks to an over-zealous bus boy and under-zealous waitress. You get all the ribs you want by asking your waiter for another plate. That doesn’t work very well when your waitress disappears for about 20 minutes after you’ve received your food. She was good about refills until that point but near the end, especially with spicy buffalo wings, refills were sorely lacking. I only got one extra plate of ribs but it came as a surprise to the waitress when I asked for them. Perhaps that was because the bus boy cleared my plate before I saw her again. He also got us a box to take home some leftovers after he offered to clear my wife’s plate on a second round. I got the extra set of ribs and they were just as good but I sat for a good few minutes with an empty plate and then no plate at all.
Overall, Cityscapes is a promising new restaurant in Mattoon. I’m looking forward to choosing something else off their menu next time and perhaps service can improve.