Metro-East Living

Cajun restaurant in Highland has ‘coldest beer’ you’ll ever drink

Cajun restaurant in Highland has ‘coldest beer’ you’ll ever drink

Teffy Beard always wanted her own restaurant and bar, so she and her family bought one that has been in a Highland, IL, building built 1856. Daughter Teagan Beard, Brian Beard, Teffy Beard and manager Tricia Stock run the place that features cajun
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Teffy Beard always wanted her own restaurant and bar, so she and her family bought one that has been in a Highland, IL, building built 1856. Daughter Teagan Beard, Brian Beard, Teffy Beard and manager Tricia Stock run the place that features cajun

Teffy Beard is only 33, but she owns a popular restaurant in Highland, cooks much of the food herself and loves to share the history of her landmark 1856 building.

She was the manager in 2013, when the former owner completed a major renovation. He removed crumbling plaster, exposed brick walls, eliminated the drop ceiling, refinished the original oak back bar and reproduced the front bar.

“The footrest is made from the old radiator pipes,” Teffy said. “We basically just put them together like a puzzle, and I took them outside and spray-painted them black. It was fun.”

A year after the renovation, Teffy and her husband, Brian Beard, took a chance and bought the fledgling restaurant. It’s called Railshake because of railroad tracks running alongside it.

“This has always been her dream so, trying to be a supportive husband, I was OK with it,” said Brian, 38, who also owns a construction company. “... We just work hard at it. When you have a business like this, you’re married to it.”

We have a homemade Cajun remoulade sauce that goes on the Blackened White Fish Sandwich, but it comes with most of the appetizers and po’ boys.

Manager Tricia Stock on Railshake remoulade

The restaurant specializes in Cajun and Creole food, everything from alligator tail to po’ boys, muffalettas to jambalaya pasta, gumbo to ettoufee, popcorn crawfish to fried pickles.

It also serves salads, burgers, sandwiches, pasta, steaks and other entrees.

“We hand-cut all our own steaks,” Brian said.

The best-selling appetizer is Three Cheese Cajun Shrimp Dip made of provolone, Parmesan and cream cheese whipped with shrimp, garlic and and other seasonings ($9 with housemade chips).

Another favorite is Boudin Balls, which are Cajun-style rice and pork rolled into balls, battered and deep-fried ($7.50 with jalapeno ranch dip).

One of the most popular sandwiches is the Spicy Buffalo Chicken, served grilled or fried and topped with mozzarella ($9.50 with fries, chips or coleslaw).

“We have a homemade Cajun remoulade sauce that goes on the Blackened White Fish Sandwich,” said Tricia Stock, 40. “But it comes with most of the appetizers and po’ boys, and it’s great for dipping the homemade chips in.”

“A lot of people want us to bottle it and sell it,” Brian added.

A chalkboard lists dinner specials on weekends and happy hour drink specials on weekdays. There’s a breakfast buffet on the last Sunday morning of each month (except holidays). Teffy also takes orders for custom, housemade cheesecakes.

We have 18 craft beers, and everything that comes out of the tap is 32 degrees. It’s like the coldest beer that you will every drink in your life. We have a top-of-the-line draft system.

Owner Teffy Beard on Railshake brews

The Railshake building started as a hotel but mostly housed bars over the past 161 years. It lost the third floor in a fire and sat vacant for several years before the 2013 renovation.

The former owner recruited Teffy, who always had worked in the bar and restaurant business.

“At first, I said, ‘No, it’s not my style,’” she said. “It was just rundown, and it had a rough crowd (before it closed). I didn’t realize what he was going to do with it.”

Today, Teffy couldn’t be prouder. The restaurant’s main dining room has 12-foot-high ceilings, tall windows with black and antique-gold trim, wood floors and track lighting. Customers can sit at high-top or regular tables.

Perhaps the most practical feature is an “ice rail,” which is a strip of frosted metal running along the bar for people to set their drinks on and keep them cold.

“We have 18 craft beers, and everything that comes out of the tap is 32 degrees,” Teffy said. “It’s like the coldest beer that you will every drink in your life. We have a top-of-the-line draft system.”

Outside, a large patio has black wrought-iron fencing and furniture, old-fashioned street lamps, towering trees, fire pits and a view of a grain elevator on the other side of the tracks.

The music stays low until the kitchen closes. We want people to be able to come in here and talk and enjoy themselves. It’s always kid-friendly. It’s never rowdy.

Owner Brian Beard on Railshake atmosphere

The Beards hope to host more shrimp and crawfish boils when the weather gets nice.

“We have an insect-misting system,” Teffy said. “It’s all organic. Our patio is essentially insect-free.”

The Beards’ 13-year-old daughter, Tegan, pitches in with the restaurant, busing tables, cleaning, rolling silverware in napkins and bringing out food when it’s busy.

Video-gaming machines are available in a partitioned corner. Or customers can play music on a digital jukebox.

“The music stays low until the kitchen closes,” Brian said. “We want people to be able to come in here and talk and enjoy themselves. It’s always kid-friendly. It’s never rowdy.”

At a glance

  • What: Railshake restaurant and bar
  • Where: 504 Walnut St. in Highland
  • Hours: 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays
  • Seating: 85 inside and 80 outside
  • Carryouts: Yes
  • Reservations: No
  • Handicap-accessible: Yes
  • Information: Call 618-651-4900, email to datbme2@sbcglobal.net or visit the Facebook page

On the menu

  • Alligator Tail — Alligator filets, cut into bites and fried in housemade breading and served with housemade remoulade, $9
  • Grilled Shrimp Po’ Boy — Served on a toasted hoagie with lettuce, tomato and Cajun slaw, topped with housemade remoulade, $11 with chips, fries or coleslaw
  • Cajun Alfredo — Classic fettuccine Alfredo pasta with sauteed peppers and onions, tossed in Cajun spices, $13 with salad and bread
  • Railshake Ribeye — Hand-cut, grilled ribeye topped with smoked Gouda cream sauce and fried onions, seasoned and cooked to order, $17 for 8-ounce or $21 for 12-ounce
  • Beer Cheese Soup — Potato and smoked Gouda cheese with Stag beer, $4 cup or $6 bowl
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