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Docks Restaurant and Bar: Stuffed burgers are a customer favorite

Keyesport is a boating and fishing village on Carlyle Lake, so many people expect to see fried catfish on the menu at Docks Restaurant and Bar.

Not.

Chef Jean Koch offers grilled salmon, blackened tuna and other healthier choices.

"The only thing we fry are French fries, and the only reason we do that is for kids," she said.

Jean, 52, was trained at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in St. Peters, Mo.

She became kitchen manager at Docks in August after interning at Peacock Bakery in Highland, which is owned by Carrie and Michel Finley.

The Finleys also own Docks, where son Nick serves as bar manager. The gray-sided building formerly housed McNamee's Bar & Grill and Fin and Feather.

"Business is gradually picking up," Jean said. "We're starting to get our regulars, and they bring more people and so forth and so on."

The menu changes often but always includes appetizers, salads, sandwiches, pizza, steaks, pork chops and chicken.

Customer favorites include hand-pattied burgers stuffed with mushrooms and Swiss cheese or bacon and cheddar.

"And then I have (stuffed-burger) specials, like bleu cheese and sauteed onion or jalapeno and cheddar with hot pepper cheese on top," Jean said.

"Today, I made a chicken burger with raspberry mustard. I ground my own chicken and fresh spices."

Jean also is known for her baked goods. The dessert spread on a recent Sunday included Gooey Butter Cookies, Blueberry Pound Cake, Pear Tarts with gruyere cheese and red onions, Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Oat Bars and Chocolate Dipped Cannolis with ricotta cheese.

"I make homemade cinnamon rolls, and they usually sell out," Jean said. "You can't really get anything like that around here."

The Docks dining room has rustic decor with exposed beams along the vaulted ceiling, a wagon-wheel chandelier, a brick fireplace, wood-shingle siding and a waterfowl mural.

Jean formerly lived in St. Jacob and Highland. She worked as everything from a hair stylist to a Quizno's manager to a Walmart greeter.

She decided to go to school for culinary arts about two years ago after her husband died of cancer. Her son, Darren Koch, 21, went through the same 10-month program at Le Cordon Bleu.

"It was a competition on who could make the better grade," Jean said, "and Mom beat him out by one point."

At a glance

What: Docks Bar and Grill

Where: 21000 Emerald Road in Keyesport

Directions: Take U.S. 50 east, turn left onto Illinois 127, turn right onto Marydale Road, left onto Hopewell Road, right onto Emerald Road. It's about 65 minutes east-northeast of Belleville.

Kitchen hours: Noon to 8 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays

Seating: About 40

Information: 749-5533

On the menu:

Margherita Pizza -- Fresh basil, Roma tomatoes and mozzarella cheese on a handmade cracker crust brushed with olive oil and sea salt ($4.95 for personal size)

Strip Steak -- An 8- to 10-ounce steak with baked sweet potato, grilled veggies and side salad ($12.95)

Docks Salad -- Romaine lettuce with red onions, artichokes, hearts of palm, Roma tomatoes, Parmesan cheese and housemade red-wine vinaigrette ($2.50 side, $5 meal or $7 with grilled chicken)

Stuffed Jalapeno Burger -- Hand-pattied burger stuffed with jalapenos and cheddar and topped with hot pepper cheese ($6.95 with side)

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