• Sippis American Grill & Craft Beer, 406 W. 2nd St., Davenport. 563-323-3911, https://www.sippis.net/
Located in a historic building in downtown Davenport, Sippis combines two of our favorite dining experiences — a pub and a diner. We were pleasantly surprised to find that the staff uses only fresh ingredients and takes pride in their homemade entrees, desserts and sides.
The owners, Frank and Jackie Berner, have long careers in the restaurant business. Frank started as a wholesale food supplier, and Jackie got her start as a server.
Combining their experience, they opened their first business, Frackies, in the west end of Davenport in 2002. Frackies is a popular sports bar known for its appetizers, burgers and sandwich baskets. Their end goal was to own a restaurant that would showcase their homemade food and creative menu.
In 2008, the Benders drove by a boarded-up and vacant building at the corner of Ripley and 2nd streets, a couple of miles from Frackies, and noted it was for sale. It took vision to picture the abandoned building, which dated from the late 1800s, as a restaurant. Located in an area of Davenport that was known as Germantown, it had originally been a jewelry store. Its most famous occupant was a local tailor known for making suits for gangsters.
It took nine months of hard work to renovate the building. The original tin ceiling and interior brick is still intact. They added an outdoor seating area, and it is relaxing to sit outside and enjoy the few last weeks of summer before the cold winter creeps in.
The unique part of Sippis is that it combines both a pub atmosphere and a diner experience that showcases the creative talents of Frank and Jackie. They have 22 beers on tap and a full bar. We like the fact that their beer menu divides the beers into Easy Drinkers, Sours, Ciders, Hoppy and Malty.
The diner experience begins with the menu. The Berners take pride in the food they serve. They have complete control of the menu. Both of them cook, and they have the help of other well-trained cooks.
The experienced cook on the night that we were there, Ed White, stopped by our table to show us the pictures of the food he creates. He does an excellent job in assisting the Berners.
The menu features Things to Share; Soups and Salads; Burgers; Wraps; Sandwiches; and Steaks, Seafood & More. The beauty of being a locally owned restaurant instead of a chain is that they have complete control of the menu. In addition to the normal appetizer menu, they also have Artichoke Crab Dip, Shrimp Rangoons, Oysters Rockefeller, and BBQ Nachos.
It was hard to resist the BBQ Nachos to go with our cold beer, the Big Grove Easy Eddie, which is brewed with some of our favorite hops — Citra, Mosiac and Simcoe. The excellent nachos featured plenty of flavorful pork heaped on top and finished with jalapeno slices.
Frank makes all of the soups they serve. Our waitress, Krysta, recommended the chicken tortilla as a side. The meaty soup had just enough spice to bring out the flavors of the chicken.
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All nine options of 6-ounce burgers are hand-patted. Jackie makes the veggie burgers from scratch. Many customers have asked for her recipe, but it will remain a secret.
It was hard to resist the Loaded Philly. They cook prime rib in house, slice it thin and top it with sauteed onions, peppers and mushrooms. It is finished with a cheese sauce and served on a grilled French roll. It was one of the better Phillys we have indulged in outside of Philadelphia. For your choice of sides, be sure to have the garlic Parmesan chips.
One of the advantages of a restaurant over a bar is the addition of entrees. All of Sippis' entrees are homemade and reasonably priced. They cut their own meat, and the menu features a pasta section. You can choose a traditional steak or ribs, or try one of their unique features.
We considered their Firecracker Salmon, Honey Sriracha Trigger Fish and Cajun Catfish Filets, but the word "meatloaf" always draws us in. The generous portion of Sippis meatloaf is grilled, topped with bourbon barbecue sauce and crispy jalapeno chips, and served with "real" mashed potatoes. Wow! What a wonderful flavor combination. We cannot wait to have it again.
Discovering that they make most of their salad dressings, we had to order a dinner salad as our side. Usually we gravitate to blue cheese dressing, but our waitress mentioned that their garlic dressing is the most popular. The thick dressing tasted so good that we had to ask for a side to go with our garlic chips.
Normally we forgo dessert, not wanting to waste our calories on something prepackaged, but finding out that Jackie makes all of the desserts from scratch made them hard to resist.
She is known for her bread pudding. A recent obituary in the paper mentioned that the gentleman was not a fan of sweets — except for Sippis bread pudding. We would have to agree. It was caramelized on top, without being overly sweet or soggy. Be sure to have it served warm with ice cream.
This gem of a place is located on the corner of Ripley and 2nd streets, a block up from the river. It is closed on Sundays, and it opens at 11 a.m. for lunch and closes at 9 p.m. during the week and 10 p.m. on weekends.
There is a banquet facility upstairs, with access to the balcony, that can handle groups of up to 100.
The Berners have done a great job contributing to the revitalization of this area. Come in for a cold beer, and stay for the homemade food.
He said: I am a meatloaf man. Sippis' version, with the addition of bourbon barbecue sauce and crispy jalapenos on top, ranked right up there. The garlic Parmesan chips were a great variation. I could not resist asking for a side of the garlic dressing to dip them in.
She said: Homemade is the key word for me in the restaurant business. I really enjoyed Frank's chicken tortilla soup and the standout garlic dressing. I was surprised to find a pub that is also a diner.