The Longbranch – Clifton, IL

8 09 2008
  • 2713 N. 1500 East Rd.
  • Clifton, IL 60927
  • (815) 694-9748
  • Website
  • Menu
The Longbranch in downtown LErable

The Longbranch in downtown L'Erable

I have to preface this by saying, I might be a little biased.  My mom has worked as a waitress at the Longbranch for many years and I eat there almost every time I go home.  My aunt is a hostess and my sister-in-law waits tables a few times a month as well.  The Longbranch is located in the middle of the country in an unincorporated section of Iroquois County locals call L’Erbale (pronounced La- Rab).  L’Erable is comprised of pretty much only a downtown.  There is one street that runs through this old French Canadian settlement that has a few houses, the tavern, and the oldest frame church in Illinois.  The tavern is an old building itself.  From the outside, it would seem this building has seen better days.  Once you get inside, you might still think that, but once you sit down and the waitress puts your food in front of you, you know you’ve found one of those hidden treasures that not everyone knows about.

The Longbranch serves a dual purpose.  During the day, the bar is open and they serve lunch Tuesday thru Saturday for farmers in the area.  There’s only a few tables out front and the space is pretty tight.  At night, the Longbranch only serves it’s full menu on Friday and Saturday night.  Wednesday is Taco night, the first Thursday of the month is smelt night and there’s been talk of adding a BBQ night during the week.  At first glance, you would think this is a small restaurant and you could walk in on a Friday night and be seated right away.  You’d be wrong.  Reservations are suggested for peak meal times both nights.  As amazing as it may seem, people still travel from all over the region and as far away as Chicago to eat dinner in this tiny community. 

The chef is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America.  His family has owned the bar for several years and he got his start cooking there while in high school which ultimately led to his decision to go to cooking school.  Since he’s returned, the menu has changed drastically.  The menu staple and what brings people in from all over is still the Prime Rib.  The Longbranch has ruined my dad on the dish.  The ‘Branch serves the dish three ways.  There’s the Prime Rib, the King Cut Prime Rib, and the Prime Rib Sandwich.  My dad always goes for the sandwich and because of the incredible flavor and tenderness of the meat served in L’Erable, my dad can’t order it anywhere else without being disappointed.  We finally convinced him to stop ordering it when we went out to eat elsewhere. 

I stopped in for dinner on a Saturday night after working all day in Champaign.  The menu leans more towards a fancy restaurant than a pub.  There are no sandwiches or burgers on the menu.  There are a number of steaks, chops, ribs, and lots of seafood.  On Friday nights, there are usually a few basket specials of deep fried goodies with fries.  Since I have “connections” I can usually convince the chef to throw a few chicken strips in for me on a Saturday night and take it home.  My aunt, convinced me to stay and take a table since it was still early and the dinner rush hadn’t hit yet.  I was seated in the bar area at the table squeezed back in the corner.  This is usually the last place they seat people because there’s not much room.  I didn’t want to take a table away from someone else, so I just went there.  I looked over the menu trying to figure out what I wanted.  I was in the mood for a sandwich, but that wasn’t an option.  I considered the ribs which come with a Bourbon BBQ sauce, but instead, I opted for the New York Strip steak. 

The steak comes with choice of potato, homemade bread and salad bar.  I just ordered fries and skipped on the salad bar.  I love the bread.  It’s nothing really fancy.  It’s just a white bread, but it’s so soft and the whipped butter they serve with it is delicious.  My steak came up after about 15 minutes and this was the biggest NY Strip I think I have ever had.  I ordered the beef medium rare and I was surprised that it was cooked absolutely perfectly even though it was so thick.  The fries are out of the bag fries so nothing special.  The steak is seasoned with a grill seasoning that I’ve never been able to totally figure out.  I can get the salt, pepper, dehydrated onions and garlic, but there’s still something I can’t put my finger on.  Every time I have a steak I remember that it’s probably the best steak I’ve eaten in a while.  Most of them are hand cut in the kitchen and seasoned to perfection.

The Longbranch isn’t the easiest place to find.  It’s not the kind of place you would see driving by and think you would get a gourmet meal from a chef that has worked in Chicago kitchens.  You would expect sub-par bar food, but what you get is a meal that should cost you twice what you’re going to end up paying.  The atmosphere is amazing.  The waitresses all know the regulars and there are quite a few of them.  New people are always amazed at the quality of food and the small town atmosphere you get at the Longbranch.  It is quite a ways off Interstate 57, but totally worth the detour if you’re even close to the area.

I’ve been e-mailing the producer of Diner’s, Drive-In’s, and Dives on almost a monthly basis with no response to try an get The Longbranch on the show.  I know it would be a perfect restaurant for the show.  If you agree, e-mail producer David Page at DDDinfo@mac.com to nominate the “Branch and get Guy to L’Erable.

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15 responses

14 07 2010
Deb Micetich

My Dad delivered Budweiser Beer there some time ago and then he became a PR man for Anheiser Busch and tended bar there a time or two and I waited tables there every now and again. You might remember my Daddy. His name was Loren E. Brazill and we lost him awhile ago but his memory lives on as well as the memories we shared at the Longbranch. They have always had excellent food and it always had a very friendly atmosphere that we enjoyed very much. I was happy to see that you are still up and running. I saw this post on Mark Fiore’s Facebook page and just had to vote and comment. I wish you the best of luck and as Bob Hope always used to say….”Thanks for the memories”
Sincerely
Debra Kay (Brazill) Micetich

19 07 2010
Sandy Altiery

This restaurant was my grandfather’s (Eli Collette) bar/restaurant in the 1940’s. Our family has been to visit and are very pleased that the building is relatively the same as when our mom lived there. We find the service and food quite excellent. Many of our relatives are regulars at this restaurant. We have a yearly gathering at this restaurant for reminiscing and Good Food. July 21 is this years outing. Many friends go there for the special nights.

7 03 2011
Longbranch Saloon & Eatery « SW Michigan Dining

[…] “Longbranch” is anything really special on it’s own, but it shares a name with a favorite place of mine back home in Illinois.   Of course, I had to see if it would […]

26 04 2011
Tom Kennedy

My grandparents were Bill and Eva Opdyke. They lived in Timberlawn on the Iroquois River in the last house around the bend (as they used to call it). The Barker’s lived next door. My great grandparents, the Levreau’s, and uncles and aunts (Frank and Helen Cory, and George and Lucille Grutzius) also had homes on the river there. I heard that there had been a propane leak at my grandparents original house and it blew up. A new house has replaced it. We used to go to the Longbranch when we visited there and my grandfather, Bill Opdyke, was a regular. The food was always great and the people were the best. I’m going to stop in as soon as I find the time.

10 07 2015
Tom Kane

I was doing a search and trying to track family history. I had two lost relatives and your e-mail response popped up. The name of the one relative was Updyke or Opdyke and he first name was Eva. Her husband was Will, but his last name was a Shepard. Probably no connection, but I would kick myself if I did not follow up and was wrong.

20 07 2011
Keith

This place is well known for its backwoods retro decor. Thursdays are wing night at this establishment and they are lip smacking good. Woman are abundant and these country folk treat you like you are one of their own. Ask around for a local named Randy. He is a legend. His powerful back, wiry beard, and never say die attitude are sure to leave you with numerous stories to pass down to generations to come. Ask for a “Randyweiser” and experience fine dining and a fun atmosphere in scenic downtown L’Erable.

11 02 2014
jim snedden

I lived in L’Erable when I was a teen. Used to clean up there as a way to make extra money. At the time it was owned by Baldy Miller and his wife Mary. That was pre Longbranch. Across the street was Simoneau’s grocery, and down street was another tavern owned by Harvey LeSage.

11 10 2011
Cindy McCasky

Is it possible to get teh recipe for the corn fritters. They are the best I ahve ever had. I live in San Antonio Texas now and would love to make them.

4 12 2011
Bars Long Island|Dining Long Island|Family Restaurants Long Island|Places To Eat Long Island|Restaurants Medford|Sports Bars Long Island

Excellent points altogether, you just won a emblem new reader. What might you recommend about your put up that you made a few days ago? Any certain?

28 01 2012
Mike Banta

Gizzard Gravy Soup !!!! (don’t be scared) the first FULL weekend of the month only.
The BEST and only that I’ve ever found….We drive from DeKalb for it !!!

1 04 2012
Robin

My grandfather, Rick Norgaard, built the addition to The Longbranch. My grandmother, Mayme Norgaard, cleaned it every morning for years. Both my brother, Richard, and I worked there doing dishes and busing tables when we were young. My father, Orin Norgaard, was a regular.

When I visit L’Erable from time to time, I’m amazed at how little The Longbranch has changed over the years.

The big attraction when I lived in L’Erable was the catfish dinners. People came from miles for them.

I’d love to see it profiled on Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives!

3 05 2012
Shawn and Mary Ellen Hook

The Longbranch is one of those places you always go back to. We were raised near there and have been visiting this place since the early 1960s. The food is great, the people are friendly and you might just see someone you have known since High School. We now live in Oklahoma and have never forgotten how to find the best place to eat in a small town. All you do is drive around and look for the pickup trucks. When you see the place with the most, you know the locals eat there. Friday night fish and Saturday night chicken are hard to beat. We are visiting again this year in May and cannot wait to get there.

3 08 2012
jeannie denault

I work not too far up the road in clifton bartending…I usually end up with an after dinner taco crowd because so many locals make it their Wednesday night meal. I’ve had a burrito as big as my head from there and it was delicious…ill get tipped in food from there any day!…I’m actually on my way there right now for a Friday night meal…passenger in the car..typing from my phone…ready for some prime rib…25 more minutes to go…about a 45 minute drive from my house and well worth it..even with gas at 4.10 a gallon lol

1 09 2013
Jim Snedden

I worked in that building when I was a kid. It was Baldys tavern then. Went to grammar school there in a one room school house. Had my virginity taken in the garage of the rectory by a local girl a couple of years older than me, so you can see I have many memories in L’Erable. Haven’t been back in 60 years.

11 02 2014
Lashawn

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