You could call it a grown-up version of Steak 'n Shake. 

Central Standard, the Bettendorf restaurant billed as "burgers, beer and stuff," serves up a familiar combination: smashed patties and shakes.

But there's at least one twist. 

At the urban eatery off Falcon Avenue, which marks its one-year anniversary next month, a list of booze-infused, or loaded, milkshakes are signature menu items. 

"The shakes are ridiculous in the best way," said Rachel Hart, Central Standard's front-house manager. "When people see a shake, their face drops and their eyes are huge — it's a show-stopper." 

It doesn't take long to see, and taste, why. In the birthday cake shake, you'll find cake ice cream, a slice of confetti cake, sprinkles and frosting. Another option, called the Rocher, contains vanilla ice cream, Nutella, hot fudge, chocolate chips, feuilletine and Ferrero Rochers. The menu suggests adding RumChata, Kahlúa or Frangelico, a hazelnut-flavored liquor, for an extra kick.

"The first time I had a loaded milkshake, I knew it was something the Quad-Cities needed," owner Mark Roemer said. "It's just unique and different." 

Central Standard, which opened Nov. 18, 2015, is unique in other ways; examples include its rotating tap of 24 craft beers, specially blended and aged meat and hand-cut fries. Turkey and veggie burgers, made with cauliflower and quinoa, also are available.

"I saw the need for a good, locally owned gourmet burger place here," said Roemer, who also owns Crust Pizzeria and Pints in Elmhurst, Illinois. "It's not something that existed here." 

And, as kitchen manager Sean Kelley says, this is no drive-through diner.

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The burgers, two beef patties on a homemade bun, range from the Pub burger, served with pimiento beer cheese, crispy onion strings and bacon jam, to the "Oh No" burger, which is served with cheese curds, American cheese, fried pickles and buffalo ranch sauce. 

"I've had a lot of burgers here, and I've been to places like Red Robin," Kelley said. "This is hands-down the best burger in the Quad-Cities."

Other menu items, under the "stuff" category, include beef-brisket tacos, ahi tuna, corned beef and a mix of salads. 

"Virtually everything is made in-house and from scratch," Kelley said. "If you're a foodie, you'll find something you like. And you can bring your kids here." 

That balance of casual and gourmet is working.

"We're here a year later, and I remember being so nervous that people weren't going to come or like it or get it, and the opposite has happened," he said. "Burgers and shakes and beer ... it's timeless." 


Amanda Hancock is a reporter covering food, arts and entertainment in the Quad-Cities (and beyond).