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DC Cobbs Review – Woodstock, IL


DC Cobbs ReviewYou may not have heard of the town of Woodstock, Illinois, but you’d probably recognize if if you were plopped down in the town square.

Is the picture at the left a good enough clue?  Or how about this quote:  “Ned?  Ned Ryerson?”  If it hasn’t come to you, Woodstock is a quaint little town about an hours train ride from downtown Chicago. It’s where most of the outdoor scenes in the movie “Groundhog Day” were shot.

Well, just off the bustling square (full of cute little shops and eateries) is DC Cobbs, a bar and burger place that has won all of the local favorite awards for the past few years.  Usually that’s a red light to me, and I ain’t going. But I was intrigued by some of their menu combinations and the choices one has for assembling a custom burger, so off I went on a Saturday afternoon.

Got there around 2 ish and it wasn’t so busy, so I was able to snare a table next to the window and people watch while waiting for the grub.

Although they have some interesting appetizers, I skipped them to get right to the meat.  Choose your protein: corn or grass fed beef, chicken, bison, ground turkey, or veggie bean.  Chose your bread: brioche, pretzel roll, rye bread (a think in Chicago), grilled cheese or gluten free.  Then there are a whole raft of topping choices, more proteins as toppers, cheeses, vegetables, sauces.

They have about 20 combinations on the menu, if you’re lazy about picking your own, including the “Ned Ryerson.” (Like how all that came full circle?  Kind of like the writing in Pulp Fiction, right? LOL).

I went with the “Blue Streak” a half pound ground beef topped with fried chicken tenders, buffalo sauce and chunky blue cheese dressing. (The chunks were YUGE, I tell you!).  Added rings as a side.  (Fries are standard, but there are about a dozen other items you can choose from).

Tablemate ordered the “Woodstock” topped with fresh mozz, boursin spread and roasted red peppers.

It was all great, came out of the kitchen surprisingly quick, and were cooked precisely as ordered.  The beef itself had wonderful flavor and was a nice grind.

Personal opinion that with all those toppings, they could find a roll a little more substantial than a brioche. It’s not going to survive the meal if you have “wet” toppings.  Pretzel would be firmer, but I’ve been ignoring them for awhile.  It’s a personal thing.

They have different specials that last a whole month.  This month, it’s an Hawaiian theme. for burgers, apps, and hand-helds.

Also on the menu, sandwiches, salads, and assorted other goodies. They’ve just opened a second location in McHenry, IL, another town you probably haven’t heard of, also an hour from downtown Chicago, but more north, not west, like Woodstock.

Server Angelica was top-notch.  She “gets it.”

I will return.  Click for the full menu.

DC Cobbs Review

Mozz, Boursin, Peppers


DC Cobbs Review

Tenders, Buffalo Sauce, Blue Cheese

DC Cobb's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
DC Cobbs Review

DC Cobbs Review


Sonic Drive In “Slingers” Review – Nationwide Chain in 46 States


Sonic Drive In "Slingers" ReviewCan’t say who thought of this concept, but naturally the “Mushroom Council” is excited about it.

The idea is to use finely diced mushrooms and seasonings as an extender for beef with a two-fold goal: to make hamburgers juicier and more flavorful, and also to do a bit for the environment – if we’re using less resources for beef, that’s supposed to be a good thing.

Seems like the suggested percentage is ‘shrooms in the 25-30% range.

Boldy going where no chain has gone before, the people at Sonic jumped on this, and are currently offering two different LTO blended burgers which they call “Slingers.”  Bigger than a slider, not as big as a “regular” burger (tho I have strongly suggested they get with that!).

The “Classic” is cheese, lettuce, tomato and mayo. An upgrade gives you bacon/cheese without the produce. $1.99 and $2.49, respectively.

An affinity for mushrooms came to me quite late in life. I could possibly be a little shy about some of them still.  But I was committed to diving into this for the sake of you, dear reader.

Glad I did. They ARE tastier. They ARE juicier. You can’t see or ‘taste’ anything mushroomy. At least I couldn’t.

I did enjoy them. I would prefer them over most fast food standard burgers. Nice brioche bun, as well. Soft but sturdy, how we like ’em!

So that’s that.  Sonic menu. All items available all day.  (I like their breakfast “toasters” too, and I’ll always go out of my way for tots over fries).

Sonic Drive In "Slingers" Review


Sonic Drive In "Slingers" Review

Bacon Cheese Edition

Sonic Drive-in Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Sonic Drive In “Slingers” Review

Sonic Drive In “Slingers” Review



Teds Montana Grill Review – Naperville, IL Location


Teds Montana Grill ReviewAsked to rate restaurants 1-5, 5 being best, usually the most I can muster is a 4.5. Not today, Ted’s Montana Grill gets a solid 5.0+.  The media mogul Ted Turner, creator of the first “superstations” like TBS, and CNN, later to merge with Time Warner, Turner is the 2nd largest landowner in the US, a devout conservation and proud papa of 50,000 bison on his Montana lands.

A relatively new chain, Turner partnered with restaurateur George McKerrow Jr to open the first location in Columbus, Ohio, in 2002.  The basis for the concept was to monetize the effort to save Bison in America.  The theme/attitude of the chain is to show the type of hospitality one can expect from a Montana establishment.

It succeeds on every level.  The atmosphere is warm and inviting, heavily reliant on dark woods. Tables and booths are both comfortable. An ornate bar runs nearly the length of one side of the eatery. A complimentary bowl of half-sours are placed on the table when you are seated. Honestly, I am a pickle nut and these rank among the best I have had anywhere in the world.  I required a refill.

While the menu is heavily Bison-centric, you’re afforded the choice of beef or bison on nearly every meat entree.  All of the other proteins make an appearance on the “Authentic American Dining” menu, as well as a good number of hearty salads and gluten-free options.

I went for the “Montana Breakfast Burger” with a Bison patty, topped with grilled ham, a fried egg, and American cheese. The meat was cooked precisely to my request, the thick slice of ham was quality (I am a ham snob) and the egg was sunnyside.  All place between a bakery soft bun which was substantial to cradle any toppings you cared to add on your own.

One thing I really liked? Burgers come with a choice of one side, there are over a dozen choices, and at Ted’s, a side is a side. They are all of equal value, meaning no “up charge” if you opt for rings or a sweet potato.  More places should have that option.

If you’ve never had Bison (some call if Buffalo), it is leaner and more flavorful than beef, grass fed and pretty much free range. These huge mammals used to dominate all of the continental United States and were nearly wiped out by hunters and diseases from cows as herds of the latter grew in the US.

About 600,000 exist in the US today, including a portion that are wild and roam the West freely.

So I loved the burger, and opted for rings, which were also superb.

Our server, Rich, was affable, courteous, and informative. He checked back often enough to be a good server, but not so often as to be intrusive. Beverages were refilled without having to ask.

Finally, I wanted to comment tha both the restaurant, and washrooms, were antiseptically spotless. That’s somewhat important to me.

I wish I lived closer. I’d be a regular.  And now I’ll look for the chain when I’m out exploring America.  The menu is online, as are the locations.  Find one. Eat. Enjoy.

Good job, Mr. Turner.

Teds Montana Grill Review

Complimentary pickles

Teds Montana Grill Review

Montana Breakfast Burger w/ Rings



The menu is online, as are the locations.  Find one. Eat. Enjoy.
Ted's Montana Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Teds Montana Grill Review

Teds Montana Grill Review


Jamesons Original Charhouse Review – Crystal Lake, IL


Jamesons Original Charhouse ReviewJamesons Original Charhouse is a micro chain with eight locations, six in Illinois, along with a two in South Carolina. They operate some Greek restaurants under different names in South Carolina as well. I imagine Jamesons is what passes for “fine dining” in the ultra-casual world our culture has become (but not in price, for sure).

It’s a meat-centric menu, with (lunch prices) burgers around $11-$12, and steaks in the range of $15-$25. The menu also features sandwiches, pasta, chicken, a couple of seafood entrees and daily specials.

The decor is pleasant and subdued. The service is fine, actually, I was surprised at how many people they had working, seemed like a lot. I was there with a friend who felt like it was important to be there.  He was buying, so sure, I’m in.

I had the “Black and Blue” burger at $10.95, 10 ounces of black Angus beef (most American beef is black Angus), and included is a cup of soup, house-made chips/fries, slaw and a pickle. Bread for the table is offered. Soup included is pretty standard around here, and they are usually good. (But also a strong motivation not to order an appetizer – but we did).

The burger was topped with blue cheese crumbles and place under the broiler for a second, don’t see that often.  Or ever. Accompaniments were fine.

It was a weekday lunch and it was crowded. People that came in after us had to wait for tables.

This is a perfectly fine experience and meal for most people. Nothing, in particular, grabbed me enough that I would go back of my own initiative.

They are apparently well-liked enough to have many locations and they constantly win area “best of” awards.

Jamesons Original Charhouse Review

Blue Cheese Burger

Jamesons Original Charhouse Review

Jameson's Charhouse Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato




Jamesons Original Charhouse Review

Jamesons Original Charhouse Review


Paradise Pup Review, Des Plaines, IL


A Chicago legend for decades, this suburban hot doggery shines when it comes to the basic Chicago fare of dogs, burgers, sausages, crinkle cut fries, shakes and the like. Cash only, order from the counterman (who’s extremely patient, even with newbies) and wait for your delish food to be cooked to order. There are a couple of tables outside, or you can grab yours to go.  Limited parking, too, so squeeze in tight.

It’s not far from O’Hare if you have time to kill, and also close to the massive Des Plaines casino.  Also nearby you’ll find (for a limiited time, they are tearing it down), a replica of the very first McDonalds built under the Kroc empire.  Pup’s menu.

The food is exceptional, hot, cooked to order, quality ingredients throughout.


Paradise Pup Reivew

Paradise Pup Review

Burger and Cheese fries

Paradise Pup Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Paradise Pup Review

Paradise Pup Review


Hamburg Inn 2 Menu Iowa City IA


Click to view larger image.


Hamburg Inn 2 Menu Iowa City IA





Hamburg Inn 2 Menu Iowa City IA

Hamburg Inn 2 Menu Iowa City IA


Rosie OHares Review East Dundee, IL


Rosie OHares ReviewBrittany (n.) a region in France; a region in England; one of the best restaurant servers in Chicagoland.

Yes, I’m going with the third meaning here. A friend and I rolled into Rosie O’Hare’s, an Irish themed eating and drinking establishment overlooking the Fox River in East Dundee, IL.

I must have driven by this place a thousand times and never given a thought to stopping by – thinking it more bar than restaurant, but my pal Tom (maker of fine streaming children’s videos, buy them here) suggested we give it a shot.

I’m glad we did. There are three elements that make or break any restaurant experience, food, ambiance, and service. We hit the trifecta at Rosie’s.

Our server, Brittany, is one of those (rare, these days) people who understand being “hospitable” is a big part of the hospitality  industry. She gave us a warm welcome like we had been lifelong customers and provided excellent service throughout our stay, with just the right amount of inquiries as to our needs during the meal.

I went with the black and blue burger, described as ½ lb of fresh  ground black Angus Beef with lettuce, tomato, and onion. It was cooked to my direction/satisfaction, and is served with chips and a handsome pickle spear. Tots or potato salad available for a small upcharge, and if you’re a regular reader, you know I’m a fiend for tots. Always.

You also know I take apart burgers on occasion to check out the components, and this hand-formed burger was flavorfulon its own and the vegetable condiments were ample and freshly cut.

The bun was bakery soft, fresh, but substantial enough to hold the toppings.

Tom went with the corned beef sandwich, which Brittany was good enough to explain when he inquired about it, that it wasn’t the usual thing with thin-sliced deli meat, but rather thick-ish slices of  brisket, with corned beef seasonings and slightly smoked.

It comes on grilled rye, with a side of horseradish, should you desire. It was spectacular. Sorry I didn’t get a pic of it.

There’s a big smoker out back, which they deftly use with frequency including their weekly Saturday nite special of prime rib.

Friday fish fry, or course, and Sunday brunch.

We sat outside, overlooking the river, tables are ample sized with large sun umbrellas, if that’s your thing.

Rounding out the menu are small plate appys, specialty burgers,salads, sandwiches, wraps and “Henny Penny Broasted” chicken.

Full bar, and extensive domestic, imported, and craft beer selections.

So, to recap? Great food, pleasant surroundings, and Brittany.

A perfect day.

Rosie OHares Review East Dundee, IL

Rosie OHares Review East Dundee, IL





Rosie OHares Review East Dundee, IL


Als Char-House Review, LaGrange, IL


Als Char-House ReviewYou might wonder how a conventional old-timey steak house could survive on a several block stretch of hipster/millenial targeted restaurants.  But Al’s Char-House, in downtown LaGrange, IL, not only survives, but thrives, by following the basic rules for success in the hospitality segment:

1) quality food, 2) good value, 3) consistent service.

For decades, I’ve had this bucket list of old-timey Chicago places I have wanted to get to – like Sinatra’s favorite Italian hangout, Capone’s secret HQ in the back of a suburban restaurant, a diner at the beginning of Route 66 — and so on.

Al’s Char-House ended up on the list recently, someone’s suggestion, and while it’s an inconvenient jaunt for me, personally, I’m glad I made the trip, and you should give it your consideration.

They’re ‘famous’ for all things steak and related, and have some monsters, including a 56 ouncer. If you’re ever asking “where’s the beef?” take comfort in knowing it’s in Al’s aging room.

While others in the party ordered steaks, naturally I went for a burger, because that’s my job here.  Basic burgers, amply sized, are char-grilled and topped with lettuce, tomato, pickles, and onion. I added blue cheese, and the restaurant was extremely generous with it as a topping. It was cooked as ordered, and on a soft, but firm bakery bun that would have been capable of holding any toppings I desired.

Natural cut fries were my side choice, and they were good +.  We started with their version of an onion ‘flower,’ and I’m pretty sure it’s the best version of that I’ve tried.

Al’s entire menu, including beef, chicken, seafood, sandwiches, salads,  ribs and more is online, here’s a link to the beef offerings.  They have a kid’s menu, and tots will enjoy the ‘cowboy theme.’  Als Char-House caters, and has private function rooms, as well.

Als Char-House Review

Als Char-House Review
Al's Char-house Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Als Char-House Review

Als Char-House Review



Happ Inn Bar and Grill Review, Northfield, IL


Happ Inn Bar and Grill ReviewThe dictionary defines “hospitality” as “generous and friendly treatment of visitors and guests.” Restaurants are certainly part of the hospitality segment of business, yet many fail to remember putting the word into practice.

Not so at the Happ Inn, a casual but remarkable eatery in the northern Chicago suburb of Northfield, IL. From the moment of our arrival, being seated by the hostess, and waited on by Ossie, we felt like GUESTS, not customers, and that’s one of the keys to a successful restaurant operation.

The bar and grill is in the final days of an interior renovation project, and they’ve created a warm and relaxing  atmosphere, based on a soft palette of colors and subdued lighting. It’s inviting, comfortable,  quiet enough to conduct business, woo a first date, or celebrate a special occasion. You’ll want to linger.

The lengthy menu includes cuisine influenced by  a number of cultures with a range of choices in the starters, sharables, soups, salads, entrees, sandwiches and burgers, and some decadent desserts.

The dinner menu expands on the numerous choices available for lunch, and there are additional brunch offerings on Saturdays and Sundays. Each day of the week features special ‘off the menu’ food and drink offerings.

Happ Inn Bar and Grill Review

Shrimp Ceviche

We started with the Ceviche, chock-a-block full of good-sized and flavorful shrimp, I was pleased they employed the traditional recipe with a tomato broth, avocado and pico de gallo accompanied by fresh, warm tortilla chips.

The Chicken Cobb Salad was an overly-generous serving, with two kinds of greens, chicken, bacon, egg, tomatoes, avocado and Thousand Island dressing – the Cobb is on the restaurant’s specialty menu, and it deserves a place there.

Being as it is National Burger month, Chef has concocted a special burger for each week of the month. I opted for the Sunrise Burger, which was topped with cheddar, bacon, a sunny side up egg with a splash of Tabasco. Hot, crispy, gently seasoned shoestring fries come as the side.

If you’re a regular reader, you know when it comes to burgers, it’s my habit to dissemble them to eat in pieces, and more particularly, to be able to taste the beef patty separately, since it’s the essence of the sandwich.

Happ Inn Bar and Grill Review

Chicken Cobb

I wasn’t disappointed. The 1/2 pound USDA prime patty had great flavor and texture.

The brioche bun was bakery soft but substantial enough to support any topping choices you might want to personally add.

The sunnyside egg was cooked perfectly, and the splash of Tabasco was an interesting choice by the chef. Great bacon, too, smoky and thick sliced.  Quality ingredients are evident in every dish.

I’m not usually a dessert orderer, but Ossie the server painted a very compelling picture of the choices, and I succumbed, ordering the “Happ-y Bites,” a generous sampling of three different desserts including carrot cake, New York style cheesecake, and a double chocolate brownie. Each ‘bite’ was accompanied by its own delicious sauce swirl.  They were all great, but the brownie was my favorite.

Finally, while most restaurants don’t boast about their coffee, the Happ Inn sure can. I’m a big, big coffee drinker, and my post meal coffee was the best restaurant cup I’ve had in years. Seriously.

The Happ Inn is located just off the Edens at the Willow Road exit, and opens seven days at 11A.

I’ve run a lot of companies during my career, and I believe a company can have a soul, a spirit, a tone that starts with the CEO or GM and it’s contagious. Whereever you find a great staff, you’ll find a great GM, and the Happ Inn is no exception, with TJ Bachmeyer at the helm.

The restaurant has  private party rooms, and does catering on and off site. Contact for catering or event inquiries.

The different menus are online. Hit this place. You’ll become a regular.  I know I’ll be back!

Happ Inn Bar and Grill Review

Sunrise Burger w/ fries


Happ Inn Bar and Grill Review

Happ-y Bites Dessert

The Happ Inn Bar & Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Happ Inn Bar and Grill Review

Happ Inn Bar and Grill Review


Rics Dog Gone Good Food Review –


Rics Dog Gone Good Food ReviewI’m on a roll, lately I’ve hit quite a number of places that have exceeded my expectations, and there’s nothing wrong with that, at all!

Yesterday was no exception, when I was out in the NW Chicago burbs surveying changes that have occurred since we first moved to the idyllic town of Barrington in 1987. And the answer is LOTS. Like most everywhere in America these days, urban sprawl and strip malls have replaced farm fields.

But hey, that’s ok, one of those strip malls has given birth to “Ric’s Dog Gone Good Food.”

“Ric’s” is run by Howard, an outgoing, affable gent who greets customers the second they pull on the door handle. He’s as engaging as the lengthy menu. He did not explain who “Ric” is, but then I didn’t ask.

Menu selection ranges from Chicago style hot dogs via local legendary  quality supplier Vienna Beef, to chopped steak burgers, deli sandwiches, wraps, salads, and plated entrees.  Greek foods comes from another quality local supplier, Kronos.

Burgers start out with 1/3 pound hand-formed patty (diminutive size also available), and I went with one of Ric’s ‘specialty burgers’ – the Greek, where the beef patty is topped with feta and chopped Kalamata olives. Going all out into the Greek arena, I asked if I could please have some tzatziki on the side. Tzatziki is a Greek inspired sauce (or dip) made from yogurt, cucumbers, dill and garlic.

I had a mind to smear it on the burger, which I did, but discovered it’s an excellent alternative to Ranch as a fry dipping sauce.

On the subject of fries? Ric’s gives you five choices. Fresh cut, crinkles, seasoned curlys, cottage, and cheddar. Rings, battered ‘shrooms and cauliflower round the the fried sides menu. He also offers ‘skins and bakers.

I went with the fresh cut, which were an absolute joy, seriously, but I’ll have to go back to try the rings and cottage fries. Based on my first visit, well worth the trip. The fresh cut fries were piping hot, fried perfectly, lightly salted.

I have a habit of disassembling my burgers at the start, checking them out. It’s also important to me to taste the patty, unadulterated, as quality, flavorful beef has to be at the heart of every great burger.

I have to pause here, and say, in all seriousness, I’ve had burgers in probably 50 countries, for which I have spent anywhere from fifty cents to fifty dollars, and this is one of the finest patties I’ve ever had the pleasure to know. Great beefy flavor. A great grind providing great texture in the bite experience. Lightly seasoned to complement the true beef taste.

(Don’t you hate biting into a fast food burger and realizing it could just as easily be called “fried protein puck”). Meats should taste like the animal they come from, and Ric’s fits the bill.

Toppings were top quality, both the creamy feta and the Greek olives. The bun was bakery soft, yet sturdy enough to hold any toppings you are to pile on your burger.

The restaurant and washrooms were sparkling. Beverage choices include fountain, cans, bottles, brewed ice tea and shakes.

The Google tells me the restaurant is 14.8 miles from my door, 27 minutes by car, an hour and a half by bike, or 5 hours walking.

I don’t have a bike. But I’d walk. You should to…or drive. Anyway, go there. Eat. Enjoy the food. Enjoy Howard.

In a city where there are a reported more than 1500 places selling hot dogs and Chicago fare, you sure have to admire the mom and pop outfits that slug it out every day in a crazy, competitive business segment.

They deserve our support.  Here’s the whole menu.

Rics Dog Gone Good Food Review

Greek Burger w/ Fresh Cut fries


Rics Dog Gone Good Food Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Rics Dog Gone Good Food Review

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