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Posts Tagged ‘Crystal Lake’

The Cottage Review – Crystal Lake, IL


The Cottage ReviewThe Cottage is one of those places most people would describe as a “neighborhood bar” and it fills that role nicely, perched on the edge of downtown Crystal Lake, Illinois, within walking distance of a number of residential neighborhoods.

Although a “bar,” it serves as a full restaurant as well, with a very lengthy menu and nightly specials. The specials are value priced.

What brought me in is the fact that any night of the week in this area, you can find a hamburger special, and it’s Wednesdays at the Cottage. Burger and a side, $5.  You pay a little bit more for add-ons like bacon and fancy cheeses, but it’s still a deal.

The sandwich is advertised as a half-pound, hand-pattied, char-grilled burger, and it lives up to the promo.  It’s very flavorful meat, on a bakery roll that is soft enough to be enjoyable but substantial enough to hold any toppings you desire.  Unusual for me, I ate the burger absolutely plain, I enjoyed the beef and bun so much.

I upgraded to rings for the side, and they don’t do justice as a side equal to the entree. They are a beer battered ring, which I doubt are made in-house. With so many interesting food items on the menu, the Cottage could easily do better on the rings.

Complimentary peanuts in the shell (yes, toss ’em on the floor) and tasty popcorn for every table.  Don’t see peanuts much anymore, of course. I was personally delighted.

Large outdoor seating area can be covered during inclement weather.  The Cottage is also known for having some large music events on-site, generally with rather proficient tribute bans.  Check their site for dates.

Server Ravan was spectacular.

The Cottage Review

Burger and rings

The Cottage Review

You’ll love their free nuts






 Full menu online. Catering menu too.
The Cottage Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
The Cottage Review

The Cottage 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


Around the Clock Review – Crystal Lake, IL


Around the Clock ReviewDespite there being an awfully lot of diners in the US that were founded by, or are run by persons of Greek descent, it’s uncommon that you run into places serving a “Greek burger,” which happens to be a combination I really enjoy. The recipe doesn’t vary much, and usually includes lettuce, tomato, cuke slices, tzatziki (cucumber) sauce, and feta, at minimum. Some places pile on sliced Greek olives, but Around the Clock uses them as a decorative garnish.  Either way is fine with me.

There are several good things one should be aware of before tackling a meal at A.T.C.

1) They have an outrageous bakery, even if you don’t want a meal, stop by and grab a pastry, or a slice or whole pie.

2) When you order your sandwich “deluxe” it comes with a complimentary bowl of soup (always several choices), and your choice of side: fries, seasoned fries, rings or fruit. This is cool cause there is no “upcharge” for rings, as an example.

3) Portions are huge.

So I opted for their version of a Greek burger, which they call an “Athenian” and it’s an occasional special, rings, and cream of chicken as my soup choice. Ended up taking a lot of it home. The flavorful, cooked to order, 1/2 pound beef patty had a nice slight char crust from a flattop, and the ring batter had a hint of beer.

The burger literally was (ok, almost) too big to pick up, with the beef piled high with rich feta, creamy tzatziki, and fresh, crisp vegetables.  Fresh baked roll, and crunchy pickle spears to boot.

BTW?  They also have a terrific club sandwich, one of my favorites.

Around the Clock is open early for breakfast, til midnight weekdays, and 1 AM weekend nights. It’s the perfect place to take a family or group who are in a spittin’ contest on where to go, cause there is literally something on the menu that every one will enjoy.

Our server Cassidy was a peach.

Peruse the menu online and order a pie.  BTW, restaurant people?  If I WERE your most important customer (LOL), you’d add deep fried tater tots or waffle fries) as an option, and smother that Greek burger in smashed kalamatas.  Just sayin’.

Around the Clock Review

Athenian Burger

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Around the Clock Review


Cafe Olympic Review – Crystal Lake, IL


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


Crystal Lake, IL – Around the Clock Reviews


Forty years before the invention of the clubhouse sandwich, Saratoga Springs, NY, was the birthplace of the potato chip. In 1853, George Crum, a Native American cook at Moon’s Lake House, was trying to please an unhappy customer, sliced some potatoes thin, fried them, dusted them with salt, and an American icon was born. For several decades after that auspicious beginning, the salty snack was known across the land as “Saratoga Chips”.

John Morrissey, a gambler, bare-knuckled prize fighter, and eventually casino owner and US congressman, started several concerns the Saratoga Springs area in the late 1800s, including gambling houses that were playgrounds of the rich and famous.  His most renowned bout was against heavyweight champ Yankee Sullivan, which went 37 rounds, with both pugilists being beat to a pulp. Sullivan left the ring thinking he had won, but was disqualified.

As with many great inventions, the sandwich was created by accident; a late night diner at one of Morrisey’s clubs knew he wanted toast, but didn’t know what he wanted to accompany it. The chef put together some odds and ends that were remaining in the kitchen, mayo, ham, cold bacon, some chicken, and tomato, and created the three layer delicacy we know and love today.

The recipe ‘generally’ calls for three pieces of toast, and some combination/layers of cooked poultry, ham/bacon, lettuce, tomato, and mayo. The oldest known recipe for the sandwich appears in a cookbook put out by Good Housekeeping in 1903.  The following year, the sandwich grew in fame after being served in four different restaurants at the St. Louis World’s Fair.

Today, you can find club sandwiches on many menus, but it takes a dedicated restaurant to make a great one, and having enjoyed this sandwich all over the world, I can say  Around the Clock‘s in Crystal Lake is one of the best.

For nearly four decades, Around the Clock has been serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, from very early to very late in the day, and pumping out great pastries and pies from its in-house bakery as well.

Service is prompt and cordial.  I ordered my clubhouse “deluxe”, which is a $1.99 add-on that affords you a cup of soup, and choice of sides which include fries, onion rings, or a fruit cup.  On it’s own, the sandwich is served with a crispy dill spear.

Around the Clock follows a very traditional recipe, using three layers of white toast, lettuce, tomato, mayo, bacon, ham, and roasted turkey.  While I have been known to  choke down a club made with “pressed, chopped, and formed” turkey slices if forced, such is not the case at Around the Clock, where the fresh-roasted turkey slices are thick, moist, and can take you to Thanksgiving with every bite. Vegetables were fresh and crisp, and the sandwich is pleasingly plated.

My soup choice, was French Onion, and again, the restaurant follows a very traditional recipe with croutons bubbling in the dark rich broth, which is topped by a thick cap of broiled cheese.  An exceptional soup.

Prices provide a great value no matter which meal of the day you chose.  The breakfast menu provides for some very over-sized options, perfect to get you started on wintry Iillinois mornings.

If you don’t feel like a full meal, Around the Clock is a great place to stop for a coffee (their’s is really good) and a piece of pie.  Or order a pie to pick up and take home, you can do that online, and choose from over a dozen varieties.

Menus are online.


Around the Clock Crystal Lake

Clubhouse Sandwich with Rings


Around The Clock Restaurant & Bakery on Urbanspoon

Around the Clock Reviews

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