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Archive for the ‘Breakfast’ Category

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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Palms Grill Cafe Review – On Route 66, Atlanta, IL

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Palms Grill Cafe Review One of the original U.S. highways, Route 66 (US Highway 66), was established on November 11, 1926.

A few years later, the Palms Grill Cafe opened on the “Mother Road” in Atlanta, IL, about equidistant between St. Louis and Chicago (now just off I-55).

Not much has changed since then, in Atlanta, or at the Palms. The restaurant still whips up most everything from scratch on a daily basis (closed Tuesday, tho), serves breakfast all day, and offers an ever changing menu of daily specials.  This is the epitome of American home cooking.

Taking advantage of that “breakfast all day thing” meant a fried pork chop and eggs for my navigator, and for me? A central Illinois specialty, served nowhere else that I know of.  It’s called the “Horseshoe” and was created in/around Springfield, IL.

This beauty starts with two pieces of toast on the plate, your choice of protein (burger, ham, bacon, pork chop, sausage, chicken), then topped with fries, and your choice of sausage gravy or cheese sauce….or both! And sure, they’ll throw a fried egg or two on top if you want.  That makes it a “breakfast shoe.”

I went with country ham. Delish.  As were the fresh cut, twice fried fries. Not many places do that anymore.

Didn’t have room for dessert, wish I did, each day they have a selection of house made pies and cakes. This lemon cake pictured was right in front of me during lunch. Torture.

There’s a big room for events or tour buses, and the walls are chock-a-block with old time area photos.  Some vintage machines (pinball, cash register, payphone, refrigerator) dot the main room and are all in excellent working condition.

Here’s the menuAnd the daily specials.

Palms Grill Cafe Review

Fried Ham Horseshoe

 

Palms Grill Cafe Review

Pork Chop and Eggs

 

Palms Grill Cafe Review

Lemon Cake

Palms Grill Cafe Review

And directly across the street? Lookee who’s looking at you!

Palms Grill & Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Palms Grill Cafe Review

Palms Grill Cafe Review

 

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Crocketts 1875 Breakfast Camp Review – Gatlinburg, TN

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Crocketts 1875 Breakfast Camp

Crocketts 1875 Breakfast Camp ReviewI’m big about avoiding tourist traps or “voted best XXX 10 years in a row.”

Unless I specifically head out for one, of course, and Crocketts 1875 Breakfast Camp was just one such destination.

I was going to be passing near Gatlinburg, and I thought the least I could do to help boost their local economy after their devastating fires would be to stop and have breakfast.

It’s a tourism mecca, so there is no shortage of themed restaurants, but I liked the menu at Crocketts (it’s only open from 7A-1P BTW), and especially had my eye on their country fried ham, because as I am sure you know, I am a fiend for ham.

It’s a long menu, offering you a choice of egg breakfasts, omelets, skillets, “griddle cakes” and accompaniments.

For some reason, my eyes alit on the most expensive thing on the menu, the Black Bear Camp Skillet, which pretty much assured you one of everything else on the menu:  two eggs, ham, sausage, bacon, taters, biscuit, gravy, pone, cheese grits and a monster “griddle cake.”

I did a respectible job at polishing it off, breakfast potatoes are not my thing, they take up capacity needed for more pork products, and the giant pancake suffered the same fate. Oh, passed on pone, too.

All of it was great. One small ordering glitch (that I have run into a few times lately).  I like my eggs “basted.”  Pretty standard method of cooking.  No can do here. Know why? There isn’t a button for it on the computer.  Scrambled, Up, Over Easy, Over Hard.  That’s it.  Odd.

But otherwise.

Breakfast for two with beverages is going to run your near or north of $40.  Nice kids menu. Be prepared to wait for a table at peak hours. Lots of wall decor that will fascinate the kiddies; no separate menu that I saw, but ordering off the ala carte menu you’ll do ok.

Didn’t get your fill?  They’ll sell you giant cinnamon rolls to go, as well as other souvenirs.

Fun stop. Good grub. Onward.  Spoiler alert.  Nothing to do with “Davy Crockett” if that’s what you were thinking, as I was.

I think I was in Gatlinburg once before, but just a zip through. Reminds me of Wisconsin Dells, if you’ve ever traveled that way.  For that matter, the restaurant is somewhat reminiscent of the Paul Bunyan Cook Shanty Restaurant in the Dells, only difference being breakfast there is served family style and you’ll receive a complementary starter of freshly fried donuts!

Here’s the entire menu.

Crocketts 1875 Breakfast Camp Review

Black Bear Camp Skillet

 

Crocketts 1875 Breakfast Camp Review

Griddle Cake – Yes, it is as big as it appears! 

Crockett's Breakfast Camp Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Crocketts 1875 Breakfast Camp Review

Crocketts 1875 Breakfast Camp Review

 

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Fairfield Inn Midtown Review – Savannah, GA

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Fairfield Inn Midtown ReviewI’m not very brand loyal, but after a pretty good experience with Fairfield a few years back, I generally look for them first when I am on the road.

Not as likely to be individually franchisee owned, but rather held by a group management company, the quality of one’s stay is ultra-dependent on how hard the management company works at maintaining the hotel and staff.

TMI Hospitality out of Fargo, which holds a gaggle of Fairfields, does an excellent job.  They have the one in Roseville, MN that I first stayed at.  North Point Hospitality, out of Atlanta, owns and operates the Fairfield Midtown in Savannah.  They built this one from the ground up and it opened in 2016.

On many levels, there are no noticeable differences from one Fairfield to another. They are generally tastefully decorated, with functional rooms geared to the business traveler, adequate work space, free wifi, comfortable lobby, exercise room, pool (this one was outdoor, but heated) and a pretty comprehensive complimentary hot breakfast, where some items change on a daily basis.

Basically, you’re going to find fruit, juices, yogurt, waffles, eggs, breakfast meats, biscuits and gravy, breads and danish, muffins, coffee, tea, and milk. One morning there was scrambled eggs and turkey sausage, another cheese omelets and veggie sausage.  Pork sausages were available both days.   There are the usual accompaniments, condiments, cream cheese, peanut butter, fruit jellies.

Some observations, not criticisms, of this hotel. Staff wasn’t as welcoming, friendly or helpful as other Fairfields. Let’s call that level of service “perfunctory.”  I object to a parking fee when the ramp/lot is part of the hotel.  The parking ramp was poorly designed, and should be re-striped, at least, the slots are too small for most current model cars.

Don’t even think about taking a big pick-up or van in there.  As a testament to the design error, the hotel has taped up strips of foam on the concrete pillars to try and assist you in minimizing the potential damage putting your car in and out of the space.

Note if you’re making a reservation:  rooms with Kings have only a shower.  Rooms with two queens have a tub/shower.  Not sure why, but that’s the layout of this hotel.  Speaking of bathrooms, you can clearly hear bath “activities” from adjacent rooms.

Breakfast was fine, as described above, but one day was an hour late, without explanation.  That’s fine if you’re a leisure traveler, or one of a group of seniors off the tour bus, but business people and departing guests are apt to be put off by that kind of thing.

Pluses? Besides the things I’ve mentioned, a nice neighborhood, about 4-5 miles from downtown, shops (including two groceries) and restaurants within walking distance, city bus stops at the front door.  Appreciate the outdoor pool was heated to a very comfortable level.

I’d stay again.  FYI.  Shop hard online for rates. I discovered I was paying 30-40% less than many other guests.

Fairfield Inn Midtown Review

Breakfast Items

 

 

 

 

Fairfield Inn Midtown Review

Fairfield Inn Midtown Review

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Odoms Tennessee Pride Hot Sausage Review

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Odoms Tennessee Pride Hot Sausage ReviewI usually “make my own” breakfast sausage, and by that I mean I purchase ground pork, season it to my liking and fry it up.

After eggs, ground pork is usually the second least expensive protein in the store.

But I keep trying commercial preparations, and have reviewed a host of them, found here, including Bob Evans, Dollar Tree, Usingers, Grandma Pearl’s, Farmer John’s, Parkview (Aldi) and others.

This week, Odoms Tennessee Pride brand “Hot” (they also make “mild”)  was on sale, so I grabbed a chub.  Odom’s makes fresh sausage, pre-cooked sausage, breakfast sandwiches and sausage gravy. I’ve tried the frozen sausage gravy in the past. The company was started in 1943 in Tennessee and today is part of food giant Conagra. Conagra has a ton of food brands which you probably use regularly.

This particular chub of sausage was manufactured for Conagra at Abbyland Pork Pack in Curtiss, WI.

As to this sausage. I was quite pleased with it. Not a terribly fine grind, which gives it some texture. Handsome, authentic pork flavor, and just the right amount of heat for me. I can be a  wimp about hot foods sometimes. Not a whole lot of residual fat in the skillet after cooking, so that’s good too, it’s lean.

I’d buy it again, especially if was on sale, but even on sale, it’s still 30-40% more than fresh ground pork.

Odoms Tennessee Pride Hot Sausage Review

Pan fried

 

Tennessee Pride Hot Sausage Review

Tennessee Pride Hot Sausage Review

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Libby Gravy Review

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Libbys Gravy ReviewI like biscuits and gravy. (B&G).  Not enough to order it as a sole breakfast entree at restaurants, but if they offer diminutive sizes on the side dishes menu, I’ll give it a taste.

I also like it at home, but also not enough to make it from scratch. So I spotted a can of Libby’s Sausage Gravy at WalMart for a buck. Great Value brand is also available in the same price range, with a very similar ingredient list.

In my “salad days” (OK, I never had salad days) when I was younger, Libbys was a huge label in canned goods. Vegetables, fruit, juices, even meats.

Started in 1875 in Chicago Now owned by ConAgra, which holds dozens of brands you’d recognize like Laura Scudder, Armour, Beatrice, Butterball, Banquet, Ekrich,  Golden Flake, Hebrew National, Morton, Swift, and many more. Libbys accounts for the vast majority of canned pumpkin in the US, if you were wondering about that.

Anyway. Heat and eat gravy. Ingredients are pretty straight forward, water, pork sausage, flour, and less than 2% of the blah blah blah.

I heated in, poured it over some store bought biscuits and my “ho-made” breakfast sausage (I buy plain ground pork, it’s very cheap, and season it), and I liked it. I’ve even made repeat purchases.  It’s AOK.

Pic below of my plate, and of the plant where ConAgra makes the gravy in Trenton, MO.

Libbys Gravy Review

Libbys Gravy Review

Missouri ConAgra Plant

 

Libbys Gravy Review

Missouri ConAgra Plant

 

Libby Gravy Review

Libby Gravy Review

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