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Archive for the ‘Breakfast’ Category

Sams Diner Review – Waterford, WI

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Sam’s Diner Review – Waterford, WI

Sam's Diner Review – Waterford, WIThere are a few times in my life when I’ve had a plate put in front of me at a restaurant and I’ve sighed and said “this is art.”

When/where this has happened, it’s never been dependent on the price or the number of stars, or some fancy name chef.

It’s about quality ingredients, meticulously prepared, properly plated, and probably a little love thrown in.

Such was the case at Sam’s Diner, a small eatery out in the middle of nowhere Wisconsin. It so exceeded my expectations on every level. It’d decorated with rustic Americana, about a dozen tables and booths.

I ordered the ham steak and eggs and was presented with a thick slab of quality ham prepared just the way I requested. I opted for “American fries” for the potato, thinly sliced crispy rounds, and marble rye toast.

Everything was superb including service and follow up, including getting chatted up by the manager and the chef.

It was about a 40 minute drive for me. Well worth it. I’ll hit it again and explore more of the menu.

You can find the full menu on Zomato. It’s pretty ambitious for a small joint.

Thirty miles Southwest of Milwaukee, eighty miles NNW of Chicago (map below). Opens early, seven days.

Sam's Diner Review – Waterford, WI

Ham steak and eggs, American fries

Sam's Diner Review – Waterford, WI

Sam's Diner Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sams Diner Review – Waterford, WI
Sams Diner Review – Waterford, WI

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The Norwegian Restaurant Review – Rockford, IL

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The Norwegian Restaurant Review

The Norwegian Restaurant ReviewI grew up in a medium sized city (250,000) that was pretty ethnically diverse at the time. At least “Euro-diverse” largely because the first generation of settlers hadn’t died off yet.

Judging from the telephone book, there were a lot of Norwegians, Finns, and Swedes. Finns seemed to be the most notable, there were food and clothing stores that identified with that market.

As an “unwoke” child growing up in the 50s and 60s, I was acutely aware of people of these origins, and that at least one segment was subject to constant ridicule with “Fin-lander jokes.” “How many Finns does it take…” and so on.

Are Finns on the “bottom of the Scandinavian ladder?” Beats me, and I’ve traveled that part of the world.

Other ethnic groups? I’d hear adults (not in my family, tho) talk about the number of Jewish people in the city (650, one synagogue they said), and the single black family who moved into our part of the city (and was treated horribly) after retiring from the local airbase.

I didn’t personally know any Norwegians until college, when I went to a kind of Norse-centric institute of higher learning. I learned how to drink beer with one Norwegian guy. I had drunken clumsy sex with one Norwegian woman. (Consensual! Ask her!) Damn she was lovely. Is to this day.

So I find myself in Rockford, IL last week, also a place with a Scandinavian or ten, I thought I’d opt for a new restaurant called “The Norwegian.”

They offered a refreshing selection of breakfast dishes with top quality ingredients. (Menu below – click on to enlarge).

I went with the “Croque Madame” (French) curiously not a Norwegian dish at all, but nicely done with house-baked, coarse toasted bread, some variety of quality, thin-sliced ham (Danish?), melted Jarlsberg cheese (that’s Norwegian), a generous dollop of Bechamel sauce (also French) and a soft boiled egg perched atop the sandwich. (No idea on the ethnic origin of soft boiled eggs…..Chinese?)

There was a fistful of some unidentifiable (by me) greens along side.  The plate was delicious. As was their espresso.

All attended to by the most joyful server I think I have ever encountered, despite having been in restaurants of all price ranges in 65 countries. According to the receipt, her name is apparently “Weekend B.”

Although the joint seemed to have plenty of help, kinda seemed to me like she was a bit overworked, she was handling the full bar, both diners and drinkers. With aplomb. And a million dollar smile.

Open for breakfast and lunch, Tues-Sun, and apparently, unless I’m reading it wrong, Thursday afternoon happy hour.  Cozy atmosphere. Apparently live music at times.

You should check it out if you’re in Rockford. It was jammed on a Saturday morning, but table turnover was pretty fast. Two entrees, three drinks, around $34.  Parking in rear. Front facing signage is pretty minimal, so keep your eyes peeled.

The Norwegian Restaurant Review

“Croque Madame”

 

The Norwegian Restaurant Review

The Norwegian Restaurant Review

The Norwegian Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
The Norwegian Restaurant Review

The Norwegian Restaurant Review

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Jubelts Restaurant Review Route 66 – Litchfield, IL

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Jubelts Restaurant Review

Pony “Horseshoe” Plate

Dating from 1922, Jubelts is arguably the oldest surviving restaurant on the original US Route 66 segment in Illinois.  It’s about halfway between Chicago and St. Louis.

Functionally a full bakery with attached restaurant, the eatery is open to serve delights from all three meal dayparts.

It was late when I rolled in, and I was really looking for a motel to crash in, but when the lightbulb went off that this place was what I remembered it to be, I had to try it.

Although faced with a very lengthy menu,  as well as a full page of specials, when I’m in central Illinois, there’s really no choice for me but to get a “Horseshoe” – a plate unique to the area that many say originated in the Springfield area.

A “shoe” is two pieces of toast, with your choice of protein on top (burger, ham, pork, bacon, chicken) topped with fries, and then cheese sauce or sausage gravy. Throw in a couple of fried eggs in the middle there, if you’re inclined.

The “pony shoe” is a downsized version, and that was just fine for me; i chose another regional speciality, the fried pork tenderloin as my protein.  A tenderloin in these parts (and Indiana, and Iowa) is a lean piece of pork hammered very think, battered, deep fried, usually served between a terribly inadequately-sized bun.

In this case, it was in the middle of my pony.  Opted for cheese sauce, probably gravy would have been better.

Nevertheless, if you’re getting your kicks on Route 66, plan your day’s drive to hit Jubelt’s. Good grub.  Jubelts Restaurant Review Route 66

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jubelt's Bakery & Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Jubelts Restaurant Review
Jubelts Restaurant Review

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Coffee Pot Review – Kenosha, WI

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Originally opened in the 1930s, the Coffee Pot has had different names, but remains at the original location serving the same delicious breakfast and lunch menu.

Although they can be very busy on the weekends, the table turnover seems to go quickly and within minutes you’ll be seated sipping fresh brewed coffee while pondering the lengthy and innovate menu.

We went with something new and something traditional. The “Reuben Omelet” is just what is sounds like, a fluffy three egg omelet wrapped around corned beef, swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and even thousand island dressing if you want it. Or get it on the side for dipping.

I went with ham and eggs, a thick slice of ham “off the bone” ( a think in these parts), a nice little char from the grill on it, two perfectly cooked eggs over easy, crispy breakfast potatoes and house-baked toast.

The full menu offers some old favorites and new dishes at lunch time. Fresh made sandwiches, juicy burgers, crisp salads and even a veggie plate. They’re proud of their bloody marys and mimosas and have some craft beers and splits of wine on hand.

The Coffee Pot has recently added a couple of “hotel” rooms upstairs, if you’re inclined to explore the neighborhood for the weekend and have a couple great meals brought upstairs to you. Burgers in bed anyone? Yes please.

 

Coffee Pot Review Kenosha

Reuben Omelet

Coffee Pot Review Kenosha

Fried eggs and ham off the bone

 

Coffee Pot Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Coffee Port Review
Coffee Port Review

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Pete’s Famous Hot Dogs Review – Lily Lake, IL

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Pete's Famous Hot DogsLiterally in the middle of nowhere (no offense, Lily Lake, but you’re a highway intersection) – Pete’s Famous Hot Dogs may not actually be famous, but they deserve to be.

Open seven days from 7AM thru the dinner hour, this small eatery is manned by “Pete” and his daughter? Companion? Wife?

Pete is affable and the other is terribly competent cooking food to order as expeditiously as possible in terribly small confines.

And altho it will take a few minutes to get your food, (Pete tells you when he rings you up – “cheeseburger? Six minutes.” Or whatever) It’s well worth the wait. The food is fresh, hot and delicious.

Hand pattied burger, quality beef, and fresh cut fries. Too cold to eat outside the day I was there, but I could see lingering at the outdoor table on a hot summer day.

Pete’s is located at the intersections of Illinois highways 64 and 47, a few miles East of Sycamore, a few miles West of St. Charles, and a few miles North if I-88 (Reagan Memorial Tollway – the Chicago – Kansas City Expressway that stops a mere 370 miles short of Kansas City). (Oh well, maybe completing it will be part of Infrastructure Weed #4 coming up soon, probably).

Breakfast, burgers, dogs, pork chops, chicken and a few specialty entrees. Worth the drive.

Pete's Famous Hot Dogs Review

Cheeseburger and fresh cut fries

 

Petes Famous Hot Dogs Review

Breakfast menu

 

Petes Famous Hot Dogs Review

Lunch and dinner menu –  click to enlarge

Pete's Famous Hot Dogs Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Petes Famous Hot Dogs Review, Sycamore-Maple Park, IL

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Petes Famous Hot Dogs ReviewI love “mom and pop” places that have survived and thrived over the years.

You’ll find a lot of these on the old, original highways of the US, like Route 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles, or US 61 which follows the Mississippi from New Orleans to near the Canadian border.

I’ve written a lot about these kind of places. I’ll almost always stop.

Just off the Lincoln Highway,  one of America’s earliest transcontinental routes, in Western Illinois, you’ll find Pete’s Famous Hot Dogs, an old-timey roadside stand, order at the counter, take it to go or eat at one of the dozen tables inside or outside.  I’ve driven by a dozen or more times, but it was never convenient to stop.  This trip, I made it a point to be there at meal time, and am glad I did.

There is an extensive menu of hot dogs, burgers, sandwiches and sides, with some creative combinations that change from time to time.  Example? “Salami Cajun Burger.”  Sounds intriguing, I didn’t ask, I’ll try it next time, no doubt.

No, I went with a standard cheeseburger, Pete’s even asks you how you want it done, and based on your reply, tells you how long prep will take.

Petes Famous Hot Dogs Review

Famous your food amped up?

Medium? Four minutes.  It’s a hand-formed patty done on a flattop and is / was delicious. Juicy meat, crispy on the edges.

They do an “over the top” job on fresh cut fries.  Some of the best you’ll find.  They also offer “family sized” packs of food to go. Probably to your advantage to call ahead on those if you need them at a specific time.

Pete’s is 58 miles west of Chicago’s loop, just off I-88.  Exit number 113, and meander up (North) on Illinois 47 for a few miles to the junction of 47 and Illinois 64.   It’s less than 30 miles from my house.  I’ll do it again, hell yes.   Menus below. They make some of their own condiments and they are offered for sale.

Open 7AM – 5PM daily, breakfast til 10:30.  The restaurant is CASH ONLY.

Follow Pete’s on Facebook.

 

Petes Famous Hot Dogs Review

Cheeseburger and fries

Petes Famous Hot Dogs Review

Burger close up

 

Petes Famous Hot Dogs Review

Click to enlarge

 

Petes Famous Hot Dogs Review

Breakfast

Pete's Hotdogs Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Petes Famous Hot Dogs Review, Sycamore-Maple Park, IL

Petes Famous Hot Dogs Review, Sycamore-Maple Park, IL

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Teasia Tea and Coffees Review

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Teasia Tea and Coffees ReviewAlthough only a few years old, Southern California’s “Teasia” have become known and praised for high quality teas,  coffees, and excellent customer service.

In the tea line, they specialize in K-cup products, with a variety of Oolong teas from Taiwan, and florals from around the globe.

I drink (literally) a bucket of coffee each day, from wake up to bedtime, and tho I have been able to partake in America’s favorite morning beverage on five continents, bought directly from growers, purchased green beans to roast at home, I honestly have never had coffee as superb as the line that Teasia puts out.

Concentrating on single origin,  small batch roasting, Teasia offers coffee from Africa, Asia, Central and South America. They always try their best to purchase Fair Trade beans.

The folks at Teasia sent me three different roasts to try: Guatemala Antigua, a Costa Rican, and Ethiopian Yirgacheffe. All three are medium roasts, single origin, whole bean.

Each were excellent in their own right, and I’m not sure I’d be able to pick a favorite. OK, I could, it is the Guatemalan. It’s very “bright” and you can detect the slightest hint of citrus and smoke. I ground it extra fine to use for espresso drinks, and it was the perfect.Teasia Tea and Coffees Review

I have not had Ethiopian coffee in the past. I’ve missed out. As a hot coffee, this one surprises you with a slight spice flavor and some floral. It’s very smooth, with no bitterness or acidic after taste.

In the summer, I’m all about iced coffee, nothing fancy, literally drip coffee on ice. Now that “cold brew” has come in to fashion, I can get the drink pretty much year around in a lot of outlets.

But I don’t always want to go on a hunt for it, so I’ve mastered it at home, and Teasia’s Costa Rican beans are perfect for it, and it’s so easy. Take a used liter water or soda bottle, rinse, put in a teaspoon of ground coffee for each six ounces of water. Fill it. Agitate. Place in the refrigerator overnight, at least. You can strain it into a new bottle through cheese cloth. I have a very fine mesh mini strainer, so I just pour out a cup or glass at a time. Costa Rican coffee may well be the smoothest you’ve ever had.

Teasia packs their coffee within 24 hours of their small batch roasting, and it is available in different sized airtight bags of whole beans. Their line is very competitively priced.

You can purchase teas and coffees online, directly from their Amazon store.

In the meantime, follow @teasiateas on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.

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Hazels Diner and Bakery Review, Hebron, IL

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Hazels Diner and Bakery ReviewLong ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I was convinced I had stumbled upon the best breakfast potatoes in the country.

OK, it wasn’t a galaxy, it was a breakfast horseshoe in Springfield, and after breakfast at Hazel’s Diner and Bakery, Springfield has been relegated to second place.

Located in the quiet ville of Hebron, IL, on the border of Illinois and Wisconsin, I don’t think I’ve ever been to a place more committed to scratch cooking. All baked goods, breads jams, spreads, donuts, cakes, pastries come from the kitchen.

The restaurant is open for breakfast and lunch daily, except Monday.  In addition to the home-made quality of the food, expect massive servings.  Hazels Diner and Bakery ReviewThough technically it was lunchtime, I ordered breakfast – simple, ham and eggs, potatoes, rye toast.

Everything was prepared precisely as ordered and meticulously plated.

The thick-sliced house-baked rye is amazing.  Excellent quality ham off the bone, salty and smoky with a very firm bite.  I’m a ham snob and this is an excellent choice.  Breakfast potatoes, rough cut, roasted, lightly seasoned, are over the top. You may opt for a shredded version as well.

My companion ordered a variation of eggs benedict, poached eggs, strip bacon, artichokes and spinach atop a house-baked English muffin and bathed in silky, creamy Hollandaise in ample quantities. ( “Excuse me, could you bring a tumbler of that and then look away while I chug it?”).

The restaurant is pleasantly decorated with Americana, and service is very small-town friendly.  Unisex bathroom is immaculate.

Baked goods are available for purchase, including breads, donuts, muffins and other pastries.  There are a few tables outside and they beckon passersby to grab a donut and coffee and watch small town America go by on a lazy summer morning.

The restaurant/town is a mere ten minutes south if you’re staying in the Lake Geneva resort area in Wisconsin.  Ask for Amy, server extraordinaire.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hazels Diner and Bakery Review

Hazels Diner and Bakery Review

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Harpers Country Ham Review

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Harpers Country Ham ReviewMan I love good ham. OK, I love bad ham, too.  But “country cured” – a dry cure lengthy process with salt, hickory smoked,  that’ll get me everytime. I’ve driven back roads of Missouri, Virginia, the Carolinas and Kentucky in search of small processors.

I’d never heard of Harper’s, even tho they’ve been around since 1952, and I might not have ever heard of them as they suffered a devastating fire last year and had to look around for a frenemy to cure their pork for them.  Which they found in “Goodnight Brothers” of Boone, NC.

I ran into these hams at BOOMLAND!  a retail oddity on I-57 (and two other locations) in Missouri. Giant fireworks stores, knick-knacks, regional foods, ice cream parlor, and discount tobacconist.  I prefer the boneless biscuit size slice packages (which are only biscuit sized if your biscuits are the size of a small frisbee).  I bought all they had.  It was a BOGO thing.  It freezes fine.

Country cured ham can be very salty. Many people give it a simmer in water prior to frying, baking, whatever.  I’ve also known people who soak it in cold water overnight, or in the case of a whole ham, for several days.

I do or don’t, cause I love the flavor.  I eat it on its own as a snack, on sandwiches, but especially for breakfast.

Happy I found the product.  Sad I won’t run into it again for a few years.  Probably. Tho Goldbely has it for shipping from time to time it seems.

Harpers was the winner of the 2013 and 2014 National Champion Country Ham. 2013 Grand Champion Ham at Kentucky State Fair.

Harpers Country Ham Review

 

 

 

 

 

Harpers Country Ham Review

Harpers Country Ham Review

 

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Iras Bagels Review – Lake in the Hills, IL

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Iras Bagels ReviewLiving in the suburbs most anywhere, your choice for bagels is pretty much limited to one of the chains (which are all commonly owned now), the grocery store “bakery,” or grocery store frozen.

I think the first one I ever had was at a small deli across the street from my apartment in Minneapolis. I was hooked.  It was 1975.  Back then, other than at a deli, your choice was limited to frozen. Period.

Go to New York or someone that follows a traditional NY recipe (see video) and you’ll be spoiled forever.  No more chain or frozen bagels, uh huh, no way, never.

 

Well, I got lucky recently, with the opening of “Ira’s Bagels” in Lake in the Hills, IL, a NW Chicago suburb near me. I’m addicted.  Like I needed something else in the category?  I’ve been three times in two days!  In addition to their bagels being absolutely DELICIOUS, they are less expensive than the chain.

They also have sandwiches featuring (the very famous) Manny’s Deli corned beef and pastrami from the iconic downtown Chicago restaurant of the same name.  So no more hour commutes to dig into that, too!

My life is blessed.  Thank you Ira.  Live long and prosper.  Menu.  (Close up pic is mine – 3 “everything” bagels; store picture is from the company’s website).

Iras Bagels Review

 

 

 

 

 

Iras Bagels Review

Iras Bagels Review

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