Friday, December 30, 2016

Story Round-Up: Features in The Herald-News, Dec.25 through Dec. 30

Bylined stories are scant this week. I opted to run a few wire stories as it's the only way to open my time to address projects I sidelined during the past few months, the busiest features time of the year.

That said, I'm really, really thankful for an upcoming long working weekend. I'm still not caught up, and I can use the time.

Today is super full. I have a story for Tuesday not yet written, a student job shadower hanging out today, and two in-person interviews (one is coming to me, and I am going to one). Wearing coffee and positive thoughts on my right and left respectively, for sure.

First, the non-bylined work: the health, faith, and arts and entertainment calendars. Three of them can be found at the link below. Gotta Do It, runs each Sunday and often stays on the home page throughout the week.

Feature briefs for Tuesday (health), Thursday (faith), Friday (Arts and Entertainment), and Sunday (People) are also edited (texted and photos) by the lady of this blog, but only the stories have bylines.

I also have a list of Santa Sightings in the Joliet area at

Also, a few weeks ago, The Herald-News began a weekly Mystery Diner feature, a goal of mine that was finally approved. I had promised to post those links this past Monday, which I didn't, so I promised to do so this past Monday,and the Monday after that. Sooooo...with being light on bylined stories this week, I posted them here.

You're welcome.:)

Another option: I do post the briefs and calendars on Twitter during the week, so you're welcome to follow me at @Denise_Unland61. And of course, I post curated content relating to the BryonySeries at @BryonySeries.

Just an FYI: On free days, holidays, and Sundays I'm not on call, I only post the blog to my "real" Twitter account, as my company insists we do take time off. I'm less reasonable, so unless I'm on a real vacation, I still post to the BryonySeries accounts. I won't be posting to my personal Twitter account this weekend, only to BryonySeries.

FYI: videos have not been attaching to my Herald-News stories, although they do run for a time on the home page. If you'd like to watch a video, and it's not showing up for you, message me, and I'll manually attach it. No worries for this week, though, although I will have videos for Sunday.

Thank you for reading The Herald-News.

Mr. and Mrs. Claus hop a fire truck to surprise a struggling Shorewood family  (VIDEO EXTRA)

Claus couple deliver Christmas magic to single father and his 7 children

This wasn’t a random visit. Jeff Otte’s oldest son, Brandon Otte, has Langerhans cell histiocytosis and Otte’s 2-year-old son, Noah Otte, has autism and is nonverbal.

An Extraordinary Life: Joliet contractor treated everyone with honesty and fairness
Richard ‘Dick’ Berti grew his contracting business in Joliet area

“We’re known for doing good-quality work and for being honest with people. He [Dick] definitely was that way,” Rich Berti, Dick's son, said. “He always went out of his way to do good work and do the right thing, even if it was harder for him.”

Mystery Diner: Morris Chop Shop seriously good food in downtown Morris

The candied bacon was the perfect sweet and tasty option, with its brown sugar and chipotle glaze, to set us up for the main course. It was crispy, sweet but not too sweet, and perfect to bring home some for another treat later.

Mystery Diner: Tom Kelly’s in New Lenox will make you want to stay awhile

I’ve had reubens. I’ve seen and eaten reuben rolls..
But I had never had a reuben burger. So I had to try that, with sweet potato fries.

Mystery Diner: Chicago Street Pub a festive place to eat, drink downtown

Now back to the tacos. I was pleased with my opening choice (two chicken, one pulled pork). For sure, they were a little messy. But I knew I was going all in on this. So I poured on a little hot sauce, ordered some wings for later and dove in.

When the wings arrived, it was immediately clear they don’t skimp on sauce.

Mystery Diner: Al's Steak House & Banquets in Joliet consistently delivers great food

I was so pleased with my first steak, I returned several more times and ordered the same entree.

The restaurant also hand cuts its chops, has fresh fish delivered daily, and offers a variety of specials, an elaborate salad bar, and Sunday brunch, the website states.

Mystery Diner: McBride's on 52 a blue-collar place to call home

As I drank my Oskar Blues Old Chub Scottish-style ale, I enjoyed the bacon-wrapped jalapeño appetizers and waited for the main course while watching hockey as the bar prepared for bingo night.

Mystery Diner: Arrowhead Ales in New Lenox much more than the beer

The soup was fulfilling and the combination of potatoes, beer, bacon, cheese and scallions was done just right to ensure a hearty enough soup that wasn’t just filled with chunks.

As for the IPA-marinated chicken, it was exactly what I was hoping for. And this time I chose right, enjoying it with Arrowhead Ales’ FMLR Triple IPA, which is mildly sweet with a 68 IBU in the International Bitterness scale.

Mystery Diner: Plainfield's Tap House Grill offers seriously good eats and variety of beers

I went after the Sprecher Root Beer-braised Beef & Gouda two-handed sandwich. The menu claims it was honored by another media outlet as being one of the best, so I figured this media outlet should try the sandwich for itself.

Mystery Diner: Chicken-N-Spice in Joliet is 'Home of the Breast Chunk'
Signature George and Eddy is restaurant’s most popular item

The chunks are amply cut and served up hot, tender, juicy and wrapped in a cliched “melt-in-your-mouth” batter. I passed on the sauces (the chunks don’t need ’em), so I didn’t catch the variety, but my companions swore by the ranch.

Mystery Diner: Moe Joe's offers Cajun escape in downtown Plainfield

I opted for the fried catfish, which was tender, flaky and well-seasoned. It was served with two sides of my choice, and I selected sweet potato fries, which came with a cinnamon coating, and Brussels sprouts with bacon, which added saltiness and crunch.

Mystery Diner: Syl's Restaurant & Lounge is Rockdale's 'hidden gem' of a steakhouse

Both entrees arrived precisely as we ordered them. The burger was served on a French roll. My friend proclaimed the burger as the best he’d had in the Joliet area and one of the best ever: tender, juicy, well-seasoned. The fries were crispy and golden on the outside and hot and fluffy on the inside. The coleslaw had the perfect meld of sweet, salty and acidic. It left my friend wanting more.

Mystery Diner: TRUTH, a cozy, yet elegant, Joliet restaurant

My salad arrived with my entree – a pleasant surprise, as I prefer it that way – and was a simple, but delicious mix of greens, diced cucumbers and grape tomatoes, artfully arranged on my plate. The steak was a perfect medium rare.

Mystery Diner: MORA brings urban sophistication, Asian flavors to Plainfield

The California roll was cool, clean and refreshing, with crab, masago, cucumber and sesame. The salmon roll, on the other hand, offered crispiness and a little heat with its house-made tempura crumbs and spicy mayo paired with Scottish salmon and avocado.

Mystery Diner: Fresh fare, funky atmosphere makes Tin Roof a winner for area diners

The salmon was cooked perfectly, a healthy portion of my favorite pink fish with the edges a little blackened. The basil sauce had an earthy aroma and hints of pepper and mint, and was a perfect complement to the fish.

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