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Posts Tagged ‘Chicago breakfast’

Carys Family Restaurant Review – Cary, IL

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Carys Family Restaurant Review“No, we’re out,” said Adele firmly. I protested, and she replied “we had five servings left and I sold them all this morning. Won’t be more until the delivery truck comes.”

“I’ll wait.”

OK, I didn’t say that, and noticing the disappointment on my face that I wasn’t going to get to have Chicken Fried Steak for breakfast, she recommended the ham, without even knowing that’s my go-to 2nd choice.

“It’s off the bone.”

I drooled. “OK, ham and eggs, two over easy, hash browns real crispy, rye toast. Some char on the ham, please.”

“Done,” sez she.

I was at  Cary’s Family Restaurant on US Highway 14, 48.7 miles from Willis (nee Sears) Tower in downtown Chicago. Cary is one of dozens of burgs lining Highway 14, one of the original US highways. Depending on what direction you’re heading, it either starts in Chicago and ends at the eastern entrance to Yellowstone Park in Wyoming, or the reverse.

There are a buckets of restaurants along that highway, and it’s on my bucket list to hit all of them. In this neck of the woods, I’ve hit the Sugar Bowl in Des Plaines, the Big Foot Inn (in Big Foot), Mr. Beefy and Kojak’s (both Fox River Grove), to name a few, with obviously, many, many more to go!

Adele returned to the table bearing my plates, and it looked perfect, the kitchen had even cooked the ham the way I asked for it (I like a little char on ham, adds to the texture), and the rye toast was oversized. Eggs over easy, and I was ready to go. Lots of Chicago area restaurants have a bowl of butter pats on the table, and Cary’s Family is no exception, so I set about the task of buttering the rye toast before cutting the pieces in half and slamming a half into the egg yolk.

Growing up in my house, the act was called “mopping” and was strictly forbidden. No naturally, as an ‘adult’ the activity amplified to tease my mother while she did a slow burn on the other side of the kitchen.

Back to the task at ham (sic). The meat was delicious. Geez I love real ham. Not that chopped, pressed and formed stuff, but real muscle meat, the longer it has been cured, the better. I’ve driven the back roads of Virginia and Kentucky looking for exceptional ham. I’ve been to the Ham Museum in Madrid (seriously) (Spain, not Missouri).

Anyway, breakfast was good, Adele was a delight, I won’t bear a grudge that they were out of Chicken Fried Steak, and will give them another chance or six.

It’s a pleasure to run into servers who seem genuinely happy to be doing their job well. Remember to appreciate them.

Cary's Family Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Carys Family Restaurant Review

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Sugar Bowl Review, Des Plaines, IL

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Sugar Bowl Review Des PlainesThe Sugar Bowl has been an integral part of downtown Des Plaines since 1921. It has, over the years, been a sweet shop, candy store, ice cream parlor and restaurant. Today it’s heavily into the restaurant biz.

Have seen this place many times when I’ve been zipping by on the train and had a hankering to try it, which I did early one Sunday morning.I went for ham and eggs, and I’ve been on a winning streak with breakfast ham in restaurants lately, like the Village Family Restaurant in Huntley, IL.

I have a penchant for “REAL HAM,” full muscle meat that’s been cut from a butt or loin, not that pressed, chopped, and formed stuff that so many restaurants serve. Please dear god, no.

The kind of ham I prefer, at least in Chicago area restaurants is called (some variation of) “Ham off the bone.” And it’s damned near porcine heaven to me. Especially heavily aged and smoked, and NOT cured or coated with any kind of sugar or substitute.

So, if you haven’t guessed, I’m sweet on the Sugar Bowl for breakfast. Great food, great service, good prices.  If you’re going to or thru Des Plaines, stop by. It’s also not far from the reconstructed first (Ray Kroc version) McDonalds, now a museum.

The Sugar Bowl serves breakfast and lunch menus, which you can peruse here.

Sugar Bowl Review Des Plaines

Eggs & Ham, Sam I Am!!

Sugar Bowl Sweet Shop & Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

 

 

 

Sugar Bowl Review

Sugar Bowl Review

Sugar Bowl Review

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Art & Almas Century Inn – The $100 Breakfast, Burlington, IL

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Art * Alma's Century Inn

                      Exterior

The “$100 hamburger” is a concept, excuse, private pilots use for the equivalent of a leisurely Sunday drive; fuel up the private plane, fly someplace, eat a burger, dessert, or whatever. The $100 refers to the cost of operating the plane for that trip.

This weekend, I “discovered” a morning meal worthy of being called the “$100 Breakfast,” and whether you’re out for a Sunday drive or flight, Art & Alma’s Century Inn, in Burlington, IL, is worth your money, time and effort.

Burlington is roughly 50 miles west of Chicago’s loop, and 40 miles east of Rockford.  (There are actually a half dozen airports within five miles, if you’re actually contemplating a flight, map below).

The restaurant has been open in one form or another since 1908, and currently serves dinner six nights, and breakfast/brunch on Sundays.

This breakfast may well deserve the ‘subtitle’ of “the $35 breakfast,” as that’s about what you would pay for it at any fine hotel.  Start off your Sunday with one of the Inn’s 25 unique Bloody Mary recipes, before launching into perfectly cooked to order breakfasts, including a half dozen varieties of “Benedicts.”

I went with the “Country Boy,” which had diced sausage and bacon, a generous slab of ham, poached eggs with country gravy atop biscuits.  My pal opted for the “Mein Schatzi,” bacon, swiss, poached eggs, hollandaise and sour cream resting on potato pancakes.  There are ‘cakes, hash, french toast, and plenty of sides to choose from – later in the morning, they add sandwiches to the Sunday brunch menu.

The food was presently promptly, nice plating, cooked to perfection and the taste and flavors reflected quality ingredients. Two breakfasts, two coffees, less than $25.  Pleasant, historical ambiance, and great service, as well.

No question, hands down, my best meal of 2015, at any price.  Can’t wait to get back and try the dinner. Classic fish fry on Friday nights, and Prime Rib special, Wed, Fri, Saturday while it lasts.

Great job, Chef!

 

Art & Almas Century Inn

                        Country Boy Benedict

Art & Almas Century Inn

                               Hand Crafted Bar

Art & Almas Century Inn

                                Nearby Airstrips

Art & Alma's Century Inn Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Art & Almas Century Inn

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Pub 72 Review, Gilberts, IL

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I’ve been on a mission to have weekend breakfasts at rural locations in Illinois, and today we hit the Pub 72 Bar & Grill in Gilberts, IL. The “72” is after the number of the highway, and if memory serves me, is a rather new name. Not sure if the change also represented a change in ownership.

The place has a menu with “something for everything” whether you’re in the mood for plate dinners, sandwiches, appetizers, pizza, or adult beverage drink specials.

They serve a VERY economical breakfast (beginning at $2.99) on Saturdays and Sundays from 9 AM.

This is one of those joints were seemingly every employee took a course in what being in the hospitality business truly means. You’re almost always greeted by the owner when you walk in, a guy who doesn’t think so much of himself that it would be beneath him to walk around, refill coffees, inquire to customers satisfaction, and be observant enough to notice patrons that need attention.  Superb. Rare qualities in most smaller places these days.

Serving help was equally affable, smiles all around, diligent order taking, great follow-up.  By 9:30, the place was pretty busy with Sunday morning diners.

I had ham steak and eggs, great piece of ham with a nice grill char on it, just the way I like it.  And a slice of Texas toast. As is the fashion at small diners in Illinois, a bowl of butter pats grazes each table.  Eggs cooked precisely as ordered.

Hash browns are above average too.

I’ll be back.  You should check them out if you live in the area, or are tooling down I-90 some day.

Directions

Pub 72 Bar & Grill review

              Ham, Eggs, Texas Toast

 

 

Pub 72 Review

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Big Skillet Review – Elgin, IL

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frontageAnother suburban Chicago breakfast, this one in the town of Elgin, far west of the city straddling the Fox River.  The 8th largest city in Illinois, it was founded as a dairy center (there was a Borden factory) and home to the Elgin Watch Company, maker of timepieces big and small.  It was the largest manufacturer of fine watches in the US for many decades.  The town boasts some incredible Victorian homes.

I was just looking for eggs, and the Big Skillet is a typical Chicago style “coffee shop,” meaning a very long menu covering all meals of the day, and an extensive bakery selection.

I’ve kind of always eschewed “skillets” for breakfast, no particular reason, I mean it’s the same food, just piled up instead of spread out.  But I’ll always go for a breakfast plate that gives you all three meats, and the “Butcher Skillet” did just that. A mound of hash browns, smothered in melted cheese, with ham, bacon, and sausage, topped with three eggs. Side of toast? Yes please, with an ample set of bread choices, I went for rye.

As with most area ‘coffee shops’, an ample dish of butter or butter like substance graces the table.  The massive dish in front of me, I didn’t make much of a dent. I managed two eggs, some of the meat/cheese, and 1 piece of toast.

Excellent food, great value.  Downside?  I left my favorite hat behind.  Sniff.

Big Skillet Elgin Review

Mmmmmm butter stuff

Big Skillet Elgin Review

Butcher Skillet

 

 

 

 

 
Click to add a blog post for Big Skillet Restaurant and Pancake House on Zomato
Big Skillet Review

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Cafe Olympic Review – Crystal Lake, IL

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Cafe Olympic ReviewAs in any major metropolitan area, one has a multitude of breakfast choices in Chicago and its environs. An awful lot of the eateries are owned, or were started by Greeks, so it’s not unusual to see a co-mingling of Greek and American cuisines, regardless of the time of day. To wit: “scrambled eggs with gyro meat.” I’ve been to my fare share.

In this part of the ‘burbs, I guess my favorite so far is Andy’s, also located in Crystal Lake. I like Round the Clock, as well.

I hadn’t tried the Olympic, and locals talk about it, so off I went, and it was Sunday morning, and it was either suffer in silence a lengthy wait for a table or booth, or be seated immediately at the counter, which I don’t mind, there are always interesting things to observe.

Chicken Fried Steak was on special, and I’ve reviewed the dish in a lot of different locations,  so I plunged in here, adding two over easy, rye toast, and crispy hash browns.   I don’t know why I bother getting potatoes, I never eat them.  But since they are included in most breakfast plates, they might as well put them in front of me for presentation sake.

At the Olympic, an ample amount of sausage gravy (quite peppery) covered the “steak,” which tasted like any mass production CFS anywhere.  Eggs and taters were done to order, toast could have used more butter.  Yes, I could have asked.

Service was quick and thorough.  Two breakfasts, two coffees, $21 plus gratuity.

Will I go back?  Probably.

 Cafe Olympic Review

Cafe Olympic on Urbanspoon

Cafe Olympic Review

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Red Apple Pancake House Palatine Review

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Red Apple Pancakes Palatine ReviewBack in the Chicago burbs to see a client, usually disagreeable in January (the weather, not the client), but it’s 45 today. I wanted breakfast and headed for one of my usual haunts, the Palatine Inn, but drove by Red Apple Pancakes and decided to give that a whirl. Glad I did.

Deceptively small from the outside, the parking lot was full to overflowing, but there were still tables available.  Paulo showed me to one and brought coffee.  The breakfast menu is extensive and there is a separate sheet of specials.  The restaurant also serves lunch and closes up shop for the day at 3 PM.

There are quite a few people in my universe who would insist you “can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” but to prove them wrong, I DID NOT order chicken fried steak and eggs (which I have written a lot about), I ordered chicken fried chicken and eggs, so there, pffffffft!

Everything on the plate was done perfectly, and despite the crowd, I noticed food was coming out of the kitchen quickly.  The ‘steak’ was crispy, the gravy creamy, the taters extra crispy as I ordered, as were the eggs,  and the rye toast done perfectly.  Add to the plus column a bowl of butter on the table, quite a Chicago area thing it seems, and I am so happy it is!

There is another Red Apple Pancakes a couple of suburbs over, in Carol Stream, IL, no idea if there is a connection or not.

Red Apple Pancakes Palatine Review
Red Apple Pancake House on Urbanspoon
red apple pancake house palatine

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Huntley, IL – Papa G’s Diner

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(Originally published July 2013)  Second visit in a few months. You’re unlikely to just wander by here, Huntley is kind of out of the way from everything.

I love “country breakfasts” in the Upper Midwest.  My definition of that phrase is – from a rural mom and pop type establishment that serves ample quantities of good food, for low prices.  Especially those places with ‘farm-fresh’ eggs, bright yellow yolks, instead of the pale yolks one experiences from the giant egg farms.  There’s a place in Illinois that is so proud of its eggs, they give you a dozen on the way out the door, free with every meal.

Huntley used to be a very rural town in Northern Illinois, rolling horse pastures, bucolic countryside, small businesses. It’s on its way to becoming a suburb of Chicago, even tho it would be at least a 90 minute drive into the city under the best of conditions.

Illinois 47 is a major north-south artery that runs through the heart of Huntley, and on the way out of town towards the north sits Papa G’s, a typical country diner.

Many diners in the Chicago area seemed to be owned by Greeks, and Papa G’s, though I don’t know for sure, would seem to fit that description as well, as they have numerous Greek specialties on the menu.

While the restaurant does a brisk business for weekend breakfast, with every table full, if there’s a wait, it’s only a matter of minutes usually.  Compare this to Portland, Oregon, where going to brunch is a “thing” and at some places you can expect a two hour wait. And people do it.

This morning, at Papa G’s, I went with the egg breakfast with ham.  Three eggs on a plate are standard here, and the massive ham steak was touted as “off the bone.”  Hashbrowns and in-house baked breads for toast were included. They bake a variety of breads, and cut it thick for toast.  It’s great.  I love ham in any form or fashion, and this is a nice piece. It’s slightly sweet, just FYI.

I suspect it won’t be my last visit. Maybe next time I can meet Papa.

Papa G Huntley

 



Papa G's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Papa G review

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Elgin, IL – Kendalls Kountry Kitchen Review

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Kendalls Country Kitchen

Google Maps Street View

Damn.  Old timey diner, affable chatty waitresses (including the owner),  great food, great value.  So unassuming from the outside (left) you’d be likely to pass by if you weren’t looking for it, or one of the locals that has made a daily habit of stopping in for the last couple decades.  I know I would if I lived around there.

Perused the menu, ordered the “Country Fried Steak” to which the response was “I’m sorry, we’re out, you should try the chicken fried chicken, it’s really good.”  But of course, I HEARD her say “chicken fried steak” cause that’s what I was thinking about, but was too confused at that point to ask “what’s the difference between Country Fried Steak and Chicken Fried Steak?”   If I would have asked, I would have understood at Kendalls, the latter is chicken.

Some think eating chicken with eggs is kind of weird.  Cycle of life kind of thing.  My neighbor down the street, Al, who raises chickens in his back yard, gets so many eggs he ends up feeding lots of them back to the chickens.  Ok, that is weird.  Cannibal chickens.

The ‘steak’ was ample,a nicely crisped crust, and a handsome piece of breast meat inside.  Big bonus, it’s served with sausage gravy, a smooth and creamy concoction with nice chunks of breakfast sausage.   Add a couple eggs, hashbrowns, and toast, and you’re gonna get outta there for less than seven bucks.

It’s a very long breakfast and lunch menu,and on a Saturday morning, there were empty tables.   If you’re tired of waiting for a table for an hour at some place on Randall Road on the weekend, head down to Elgin.  You’ll be happy and richer at the end of your meal.  CASH ONLY.  ATM in the bar across the  street.

 

Kendalls Country Kitchen

Two over easy with hash browns

 

Kendalls Country Kitchen

Chicken Fried Chicken

 

 

 

Kendalls Kountry Kitchen Review

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Huntley, IL – Sammy’s Restaurant and Bar

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Hard to believe I would find myself in this little burg twice in a lifetime, let alone twice in a month. But here I am, it’s Father’s Day, I deserve a nice breakfast out in the traditional Father’s Day tradition!

Sammy’s Restaurant and Bar is open for all meal services, and offers pretty standard “diner” fare, along with daily and nightly specials. There is a set lunch special menu, and the nightly specials are consistent from week to week, with the usual (for the area) fish fry on Friday’s.

Sammy’s doesn’t wait for the dinner hour for their fish fry, however, they start serving it up for the lunch crowed.

I went with Sammy’s variation of “Country Steak” and eggs, which in this case, did not include batter, fried beef, but rather a chopped steak patty with country gravy, two eggs, hash browns, and toast. I went with marble rye on the latter.

The beef patty is pretty ample, perhaps a half-pound pre-cooked weight, a food service type burger (meaning not hand-formed from fresh ground beef), and the gravy was good.

I was pretty happy with the service and food, and like so many small town places in the Upper Midwest, prices make the meals a really good value.

Sammy's Restaurant Huntley Illinois

Sammy's Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

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