All posts by Gene Avorio

Ovo Frito Cafe Evanston Illinois

Good Morning Gators!

 

Ovo Frito Evanston
Exterior Complete with conspicuous gas meter

 

We have another Tasty Suburban spot this morning. Michele and myself were off to the the North Shore. Evanston to be exact. Just a rock throw from Northwestern U to a place called Ovo Frito. Ovo has only been open 7 months at the time of our visit and has already amassed a fan base. Diane is having a SPA day with her offspring so I have a ride along.

We arrived early as usual and popped in right at the opening gun. The usual ritual of photos and Coffee happened. The Coffee was roasted dark and properly strong.    8     The Coffee refill process was totally unique. It was just like a Brazillian Steakhouse. There is a coaster on the table with a yes no refill side. I had Michele steal another one so I could show both sides in the photo.  No booze menu.

Ovo Frito Evanston
Brazilian Steakhouse Coffee refill ordering system

 

 

The interior is interesting. Modernish with some pretty out there eggy art embellishments.

Ovo Frito Evanston
Interior
Ovo Frito Evanston
Interior
Ovo Frito Evanston
Interior
Ovo Frito Evanston
Interior
Ovo Frito Evanston
Interior
Eggy Art

 

The place was as cold as a walk in refrigerator. I actually had to put my coat back on. The music was Mexican flavored just like the menu. It fit perfectly. Speaking of menu, it had just enough choices to make choosing difficult but not overwhelming enough for me to think that there wasn’t  a lot of ingredients hanging out in back  getting old.

We finally settled on this morning’s line up and started the process.

Number 1

Hay Mama Estos Huevos

Scrambled Eggs with crushed tortilla chips Chorizo Jalapeños Chihuahua Cheese Sour Cream and Salsa Roja

I usually cut and paste the food descriptions from the website but alas they have none.

Our server took our order and returned quickly with a delicious looking Ham Omelette. We apparently got our wires crossed or my Spanish accent was not very good and Hay Momma sounded like Ham Omelette. He whisked it away and returned in a while with the proper dish.

Ovo Frito Evanston
Hey Mama Estos Huevos
(Not Ham Omlette)
Ovo Frito Evanston
Hey Mama Estos Huevos
Ovo Frito Evanston
Hey Mama Estos Huevos

 

As soon as it arrived I saw garnishes from 2 different decades. Orange slices from the 70’s and scattered herbage from the 80’s so you regular readers know exactly what I was thinking. Hey 1975 and 1986 called. They want their Garnish back.  (Note: Michele and Diane both LIKE the Orange slice)

Ovo Frito Evanston
Delux 70’s Orange Twist

This combo was supplied with Potato cubes that they like to call Desiree Potatoes and one slice of toastage of your choosing. Sourdough in our case. The Potatoes were average. Something you can get at many places. They tasted pretty fresh and decently seasoned.    6    The Toast was toasted and of course delivered unbuttered with a side of Smuckers. (see rant page)    5

Ovo Frito Evanston
Unbuttered Toast

I’ll say on the outset that I generally don’t like scrambles. The eggs are usually overcooked and watery from the ingredients added. This was the case here as well HOWEVER the crunchy tortilla chips and the on point red sauce saved the day. It was spicy but not too. It was an overall winner for me.    8     A great score for a Scramble

Second Up

Huevos Divorciados

A  couple of fried tortillas smeared with Refried Black Beans, 2 Over Medium Eggs, Salsa Roja, Cotija Cheese, Salsa Verde, with a dollop of Sour Cream and Guacamole

The Over easy Eggs were near perfect. The red sauce is sublime. The Tortillas crunchy. It also has a green Tomatillo sauce that was killer and I’m actually not a big fan of Tomatillos. (Did you know that Tomatillos are related to the Gooseberry)? This dish rocked. I would order it again.    9  

Ovo Frito Evanston
Huevos Divorciados
Ovo Frito Evanston
Huevos Divorciados
Ovo Frito Evanston
Huevos Divorciados
Must have hated it

 

There was a few pretty standard Pancake and French Toast offerings. You know french toast is a dangerous choice (rant page) and I saw an order being delivered to a neighbor and thought it was best not to go there. I have been thinking about Pancakes this week so it was a pretty clear decision.

Berries Pancakes

Three Pancakes filled with Black and Blueberries Granola and Blackberries Coulis whipped cream and Lemon Butter.

The Pancake Batter  was obviously House Made. If not it was a fantastic imposter. The Cakes were light and puffy fluffy. Cooked thoroughly but not dry. Just the right ratio of Cake to Berries. The sprinkle of Granola added a bit of textural intrest. Top Shelf.    8/9    Fakle Syrup (Fake Maple) These would have been a solid 9 with real syrup.  Please Please offer the real stuff for an upcharge. The Lemon Butter was fresh and tasty. A winner plate.

Ovo Frito Evanston
Berries Pancakes
Ovo Frito Evanston
Berries Pancakes
Ovo Frito Evanston
Berries Pancakes
Ovo Frito Evanston
Berries Pancakes

 

OK Kids that wraps it up for our visit to Ovo Frito. Just like your unattractive cousin, not much to look at on the outside but a wonder on the inside. Next time you’re on the North Shore pay her a visit.

 

As for me I’m off to my next adventure.

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Solstice Restaurant Western Springs

Solstice Restaurant WEBSITE

Good Morning Gators!

This morning we are off to another Suburban spot. Thats 2 in a row. This one however would be just as comfortable if it were in Logan Square.

Solstice Restaurant Western Springs
Exterior

We arrived in the BREKFST Mobile just shy of their 7am opening. As per standard operating procedure, I took the exterior and interior shots as Diane grabbed a table. I finished up and sat down. The only window side table is wall table with a bench. UGH (see rant page). Our server Lauren asked if we wanted something besides water to drink. I chose Coffee of course and Diane chose one of their loose tea offerings. (Roasted Almond) From Benjamin Tea Company. The coffee is from a roaster in Plainfield called Ten Drops. It was mild but good.   8    

The interior of the place is cute and small. Im quite sure that it was going to be stuffed full of Hipsters in no time. The Decor is Urban industrial. The wall art was a mix of Eggs, Plants, and Meats. The music was a mashup of current stuff with 60’s and 70’s easy rock.   8    

 

Solstice Restaurant Western Springs
Interior
Solstice Restaurant Western Springs
Interior
Solstice Restaurant Western Springs
Interior
Solstice Restaurant Western Springs
Interior
Solstice Restaurant Western Springs
Ingredient Source Map

 

As you can see in the above photo they are proud of local sourcing. YES it’s good but some of you know that I really don’t care if the Chicken was born in Illinois or not.

Much to my liking the menu is short. It has a mix of standard breakfast foodstuffs and more inventive creations. Diane and I pretty quickly made some decisions.

Diane:

Full of glee that we found an intriguing Breakfast  destination in the western burbs, I kept my grousing to a minimum when Gene nudged me awake at 5:45am on this balmy 38 degree January Sunday morning.  LaGrange, Countryside, Western Springs area is my old stomping grounds (in the late 80’s and all of 90’s) and its cool to spot a gem as Solstice turns out to be. The music mix was very uplifty…a bit of soul, R&B, indie folk and 70’s pop. Gene and I both feel the the right music  is rather important to complement the personality of the restaurant

There is a decent offering of unique loose teas on the menu with names like Love, Coconut Frenzy, and Moroccan Mint. As it turns out, the Roasted Almond was served in a generous teapot. Lauren gave a mini lesson on proper steep time for my tea, and was very sweet so early in the morning. She knows the menu very well and informed us that she had tried every single thing on the menu and was very proud to share that she had been part of the team for well over a few years (they have been in business for 3 years).

 

Solstice Restaurant
Cloth Napkins
Solstice Restaurant Western Springs
Loose Tea
Solstice Restaurant Western Springs
Loose Tea

 

1

Fried Brussel Sprouts, Egg, Bacon, Sesame Seeds, Chili Glaze

A few years back there were about 6 people eating Brussel Sprouts. I was one of them. When they are prepared correctly they are delish.  The problem was that most people didn’t know what to do with them except boil them until they were very dead. Luckily they have made a strong surge in popularity due to imaginative chefs cooking them correctly. One of the great ways to cook them is in the deep fryer. We could actually smell them cooking. Chef and co owner Lucas Bumba brought them to the table and presented them to us like they were a precious gift. As it turned out they WERE. They were tender crisp fried nuggets of deliciousness. They had some house made bacon, a wonderful sweet and savory sauce that was a great compliment to the bitter sprouts. They were sprinkled with sesame seeds that they grow on the roof. OK that part isn’t true. What IS true however is the    9    Rating. The Sunny Egg was a bit under done though. A bit of a letdown for a near perfect start. This is a definite re order item.

Diane:

If brussels are on the menu, any menu, anytime of the day…I will most likely order them. Steamed with butter and salt, or baked and served with a dipping sauce…..they are just so yummy and vibrant. A vegetable that says, “hey you, I am a force to be reckoned with, and now that you are a grown up, its time you forget those long nights sitting sullen at the family table staring at your stone cold  vegetables, and give us a try!!!”  Yes indeed, these brussel sprouts spoke to us. Halved and browned nicely, with a generous sprinkling   of toasted sesame seeds and a sweet chile sauce, amazing! Smoky  and meaty bacon pieces mingled with the veggie, and Sunny egg with crispy edges sat on top. I am still thinking of this dish, a week later.   9

Solstice Restaurant Western Springs
Brussel Sprouts
Solstice Restaurant Western Springs
Brussel Sprouts

 

2

Farmers Toast

House Made Goat and Lamb Sausage House Made Jam Sous Vide Mushrooms

Again a proud introduction of the dish by the Chef

I’m no food Anthropologist but I’m pretty sure that Toast has been around since Fire and Bread were invented. Some genius Chef decided that if he made some really scrumptious toast he could get 8 or 10 bucks for it. BOOM Avocado Toast is seen on menus everywhere. These boys  Sexy Toast game is on point. The sausage is pretty spicy but not stupid. The salt level is perfect.  This interesting combination of stuff made for another rare score of   9   It was again topped with a SS Up Egg and although better than the last one still had some snotty whites.  Another reorder item.

Diane:

Wonderfully inventive interpretation of savory french toast. Aside from the underdone Sunny egg, every bite of this dish hit the mark. The homemade tri-berry jam was not too sweet, and the house sausage was tender, not tough and chewy as some patties can be. There was a nice savory TANG without the salty sausage aftertaste. The toast was tasty but a bit overdone, otherwise a very nice dish    7

Solstice Restaurant Western Springs
Farmers Toast
Solstice Restaurant Western Springs
Farmers Toast
Solstice Restaurant Western Springs
Farmers Toast
Hated It

 

3

Brunch Poutine, Sunny Side Up Egg, Fried Chicken, Pimento Cheese, Potatoes

Another excellent table side presentation

Iv’e had breakfast Poutine at another place that I can’t remember. Possibly in Portland. It was A more traditional Canadian style version with Mushroom gravy and a soft cooked egg. This version is an elevated rendition. I have been inspired to serve Pimento Cheese with my eggs in the future. The chicken was tangy and mostly crispy. Most of you know that I’m not big on Fried Chicken but this is a winner winner. The potatoes tasted pretty fresh not at all like most places house potatoes that seem like they have been a Hotel pan on the steam table for a week. This delight was Tangy Spicy Crunchy and Creamy.  The Egg was the only miss in this Extra Delicious HIT.    9  

Diane:

When Lucas presents each dish, you can clearly tell he really enjoys his life’s work. Not only does he describe the dish’s content, but how it is prepared. No shortcuts in this kitchen!! The fried chicken pieces were soaked in buttermilk and spices, and it was evident that extra time is taken to ensure clear and distinct flavors. I loved the potatoes, they were definitely freshly prepared. The pimento cheese sauce was smooth and lightly bathed the potatoes and chicken. I am discounting the Sunny egg because as a rule, I do not eat them.

Something I noticed about each dish we tasted is that the chefs are highly skilled at spicing in proper proportions. Each bite of each item was so flavorful, but never screamed of one essence. Specifically, flavors never battle each other for attention. The combos here JUST WORK.    9

Solstice Restaurant Western Springs
Poutine
Solstice Restaurant Western Springs
Poutine
Solstice Restaurant Western Springs
Poutine

 

4

Brioche French Toast , Two Eggs

Instead of the Eggs I requested Grits. I wanted to try them.

Yes I know. I can hear your telepathic thoughts. French Toast Geno? I  was feeling brave. What am I talking about? Read my French Toast musings on the rant page.

While we were waiting for the FT we were treated to a Glazed Raised Donut from Stans Donuts. I am generally not a fan of these. I prefer glazed old Fashioneds however it was tasty. One of the best I’ve had. The dough part of the donut actually had some flavor. It was amazingly light and fluffy.    7

Diane:

I loved that a SUV pulled up the one of the front parking spaces, and a woman with a cute swingy ponytail got out with four large boxes of bakery goods. Here Comes the Donut Girl , I thought. It was a delicious gift from the owner, and it was light and fluffy and good 8

Solstice Restaurant Western Springs
Stans Donut
Solstice Restaurant Western Springs
Stans Donut

 

Gene:

Lauren brought the French Toast. I tasted the Syrup first. It was real Maple Syrup. Kudos to the decision not to wimp out and serve that other junk. The FT was spiked with Nutmeg and something else that I couldn’t identify. It was fairly well soaked in the batter. It could have used a few more seconds. It was a good representation of proper french toast. Custardy and moist.    8  

Solstice Restaurant Western Springs
French Toast and Grits
Solstice Restaurant Western Springs
French Toast

 

The grits were above average. Extra cheezee. They needed a bit more cook time but weren’t gritty. Yummy    8

Diane:

Gene and I agreed that the French toast had a distinct nutmeg flavor but could not discern the other spice. It was not cinnamon but may have been clove. Either way, this was velvety smooth and soft inside, and the real maple syrup was heated and a nice touch.      8

The cheesy grits were aptly named. So very cheesy, possible a very sharp cheddar. They were nicely peppered and a proper complement to the sweet FT.      7

 

Solstice Restaurant Western Springs
Grits

 

You know what I hated about this place? Nothing

 

Well thats it Gators. This was like Downtown quality without having to deal with the parking. The place was standing room only when we left but was mostly families. There was surprisingly zero Hipsters.

I really appreciate when restaurant owners have the drive and the passion to put out a top notch product. it’s not easy and it shows in the end result. Thanks for the hard work. I will definitely be back.

As for us we’re off to our next adventure.

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Solstice Restaurant Western Springs
Diane and Menu

Mary’s Morning Mix Up Brookfield IL

Mary’s WEBSITE

Happy 2018 Gators!

This is our first review of the new year. I thought that we would start off with a suburban spot. As you know there aren’t very many that make it into the blog. In case you didn’t know, I don’t write about places that I didn’t like. I try to keep my reviews as positive as possible.

OK here we go

Mary’s Mix Up
Exterior
Mary’s Mix Up
Exterior

We arrived a bit before they opened. About a minute to 6 someone else showed up and beat us inside. As per usual Diane grabbed a table and I took the interior shots. The place is cute and designed in quasi Googie style. Don’t know what that is? Click HERE

Mary’s Mix Up
Interior
Mary’s Mix Up
Interior
Mary’s Mix Up
Cinnamon Rolls
Mary’s Mix Up
Interior
Mary’s Mix Up
Interior
Mary’s Mix Up
Interior
Mary’s Mix Up
Interior
Mary’s Mix Up
Interior
Mary’s Mix Up
Interior
Mary’s Mix Up
Interior
Sunny Side Up Egg
Mary’s Mix Up
Interior
I’m not sure I like Being Watched Whilst Peeing

 

 

I finished up and sat down. Coffee was ordered    5   and I looked over the custom logo’d menu and listened to the popish music with way too much Bad DJ chatter supplied via radio. UGH   4    

Mary’s Mix Up
Custom Menu

 

There were cute mugs and a LOT of flotsam and jetsam on the tables. There was also a crazy flatware person holding Salt, Pepper, Butter, and Jam. This was something I’ve not seen before.

Mary’s Mix Up
Mug
Mary’s Mix Up
Table Stuff
Mary’s Mix Up
Bucket -O- Creamers
Mary’s Mix Up
Flatware Person

 

Choosing a table by the window didn’t help anything photographically speaking. It was still dark out. I apologize in advance for the sub par pictures.

The menu was moderate and didn’t have much of anything out of the ordinary. Diane and I made the final decisions and started the ball rolling.

One of the things that they DID offer was House Made Cinnamon Rolls. Of course that was a must have appetizer. It was warm gooey soft and fluffy. We have had versions of these many times. This one was above average.   8   We destroyed it.

Diane;

As usual, we were up and out before sunrise on a frigid Sunday morning. The wind was howling as we parked and walked toward the front door. There is something tranquil about a still morning yet we were excited about finding a new place. I love that its in Brookfield, as I lived in nearby burb for many years. Our server was prompt with a hot pot of coffee, and was very cheery and pleasant. Pop music played in the background. The vibe was comfy.  8   There is a bakery case near the front door with different types of obviously homemade pies, cake, and beautiful bodacious Cinnamon Rolls. The roll was a definite hit, soft but not underbaked, a bit crispy on outside, but not overdone. The icing was very creamy with lots of cream cheese flavor. 9

Mary’s Mix Up
House Made Cinnamon Roll
Mary’s Mix Up
House Made Cinnamon Roll

 

1st up

Chorizo Flat Bread

I was just talking to one of my coworkers (Yes I have an actual job) about the fact that I haven’t been to a place that makes Pizza for breakfast. Now that the idea is out there you have to name a pizza after me. A Flat Bread is NOT a Pizza.

This compilation started with a very crispy base that tasted just like a Saltine Cracker. Since I had the first bite I held off making a comment about it. I didn’t want to influence her observations. It was topped with scrambled eggs, standard chorizo, and some pico. In spite of being put off by the Soda Cracker Crust it was actually pretty tasty.   7    

Diane:

Ok, so I surely love to admit that I just love saltine crackers. I have good memories of eating crackers spread with salted butter as an  after-school snack. (Yes I know its  unhealthy, salty and unrefined, but it was my favorite). Gene cracks up that I keep oyster crackers on hand at all times. So when I took a bite, immediately I tasted the cracker taste topped with creamy avocado and scrambled eggs.  The fresh pico was delish. The only drawback was that the shredded cheese was not melty.     7

Mary’s Mix Up
Chorizo Flatbread
Mary’s Mix Up
Chorizo Flatbread
Mary’s Mix Up
Chorizo Flatbread
Mary’s Mix Up
Chorizo Flatbread
Mary’s Mix Up
Chorizo Flatbread
In your best Pee Wee Herman Voice
Mmm CRACKERY

 

Next up

Spinach and Feta Omlette with house made Hash Browns

Yah Yah. Most of you know that I don’t order omelettes unless I feel like there isn’t much else that appeals to me. We already made our other choices and this was the final decision.  The server brought over a bottle of ketchup. I chuckled and thought thats what this table needs is another item to add to it. The Omelette thankfully was not overcooked. It was seasoned well and had plenty of filling. It was good.   8   The House Made Hash browns on the other hand were a bit of a let down. I expected crispy buttery exterior and soft luscious interior. These were pretty run of the mill Hash Browns.   6    The entree was supplied with Pancakes that I passed on. They were pretty standard.

Diane:

I really love feta cheese. I really love spinach. This omelette was well browned, which is my preference. It as unremarkable but basic, and there was plenty of feta inside, so this was satisfying.     8    I was surprised that the hashbrowns were so bland, there seemed to be no seasoning at all on them. They needed ketchup to earn a 5.

Mary’s Mix Up
Spinach Omelette
Mary’s Mix Up
Spinach Omelette
Mary’s Mix Up
Spinach Omelette

 

Last up

Donut Pancakes.

While we were waiting for the final round we got a surprise! House made donuts. A gift from the restaurant. 2 versions. Glazed and Cinnamon Sugar. They were light puffy warm little clouds of deliciousness.  They were better than a lot of regular donut joints   9

Diane:

The restaurant filled up very quickly after 7:00am, and it appeared that most patrons were regular customers. The hostess and servers were very friendly to everyone. We were pleasantly surprised when our server delivered a long platter of six warm, and freshly made donuts and announced that they were “on the house”, and we were both smiling.    9

Mary’s Mix Up
House Made Donut
Mary’s Mix Up
House Made Donut

Mary’s Mix Up
House Made Donut

 

I had visions of donuts magically transformed into pancakes. But alas  what was delivered was a big stack of cakes with a hole cut out of the middle topped with some glaze. As it turned out they were actually pretty fair   7   

Diane:

This stack was high and fluffy and drizzled with warm icing. From the time it was set on the table, I wanted to dig in, so as soon as the photos were taken, I dragged a forkful through the topping and tasted. It was warm and wonderful and ever so tasty.     8

 

Mary’s Mix Up
Donut Pancakes
Mary’s Mix Up
Donut Pancakes
Mary’s Mix Up
Donut Pancakes
Mary’s Mix Up
Donut Pancakes

Well Gators that about does it for Mary’s. It’s a good suburban stop. Food was decent, the service was great, and the place was jazzy. Give it a try.

 

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Son Of A Butcher by WHISK

SOB WEBSITE

Good Morning Gators!

Although as far as my internal clock goes it’s almost the middle of the day. SOB opens at 10. We were almost an hour early due to my incessant need to be early and traffic being cooperative. We sat in the BREKFST mobile and listened to tunes. As the magic hour approached people started to pile out of their cars. I had discussed my mission with the young and handsome Chef Owner Rick Rodriguez and he very kindly held us a table. Diane sat down and I grabbed my usual interior shots. There was good strong dark roast coffee to be found. I had expected to do some of the usual menu browsing but Rick had other plans for us. The menu is being completely refreshed and he wanted to show off some the new grub. Bring it.

SOB’s exterior sports a custom paint job and a wind break that wasn’t there last time I was there.

SOB Chicago
Exterior
SOB Chicago
Exterior
SOB Chicago
Exterior and my shadow

 

The super cool industrial interior is complete with a big bar and a hallway and bathrooms with pennies decoupaged to the floor. Love it.

SOB Chicago
Interior
SOB Chicago
Interior
SOB Chicago
Interior
SOB Chicago
Interior
SOB Chicago
Interior
SOB Chicago
Interior
SOB Chicago
Interior
SOB Chicago
Interior

 

There are some small decorative touches that add extra personality.

SOB Chicago
SOB Chicago
SOB Chicago
SOB Chicago

SOB and WISK are 2 of my favorites. I may be a bit biased but I have been to a LOT of breakfast emporiums and feel like that I can do an ojective re-review. OK enough chatter. Let’s go.

As we were settling in the first course arrived.

Pozole

I have had Pozole for breakfast before but not this degree of deliciousness. The hominy was perfectly cooked. The beans were tender. The chicken was succulent  the broth was perfectly seasoned and had the proper level of salt. The addition of fresh cabbage and radishes added crunchy freshness.  Although I would probably add a nicely poached egg to this, it was sublime.   9

SOB Chicago
Pozole
SOB Chicago
Pozole
SOB Chicago
Pozole
SOB Chicago
Pozole
SOB Chicago
Pozole Accoutrements

SOB Chicago
Chips

   

Just as I was licking the bowl the second course arrived

Diane:

I had been looking forward to visiting SOB for some time now, and it was exciting to hear that Chef Rick was in the process of retooling the menu. As soon as we walked in, a friendly host greeted us and a moment later Rick was there to usher us into a sunny front booth.  Hot coffee and ice water were poured quickly and  Gator left to  roam around taking photos. The first course of  delicious Pozole arrived steaming, with a bowl of chips and fresh limes and a little cup of oregano. The hominy was delicious, the chicken thigh tender and the broth spiced just right, but the addition of thinly radishes and chopped raw cabbage was delightful. 9

 

Breakfast Tacos

For the sake of transparency I need to state that I really don’t care for breakfast tacos. It’s too close to a breakfast sandwich which I also am not a fan of. Now that I’m whining I might as well continue with the fact that I’m also not a fan of steak for breakfast and I really only like my own scrambled eggs. That being said I have to say that these were pretty tasty. The marinated steak had a good balance of tenderness and chew and was well seasoned The eggs although a bit overdone for me were not hammered. The house made tortillas were great and 2 two house made salsas were fantastic. These are probably the best version I’ve experienced.   7   You will most likely enjoy these more than I did.

Diane: The breakfast taco platter looked beautiful and I was thrilled to hear Anna say that the salsa verde had avocado in it, which is my favorite pairing with eggs. The steak was seasoned perfectly and very tender, and the pico was fresh as can be   8

SOB Chicago
Breakfast Tacos
SOB Chicago
Breakfast Tacos
SOB Chicago
Breakfast Tacos

Diane orders a cocktail.

If you’ve been following us you’ll already know my  partner likes a little alcomohol with breakfast. The name of the concoction was called a Dove. It was a quite delicious combo of tequila lime and grapefruit soda.   9  

Diane:

This was one tasty beverage. It was hard to pass up the homemade Sangria  served on Sundays for $5… but seeing grapefruit paired with Tequila on the drink menu was so enticing so I ordered it up. The bartender on duty this Sunday morning took her craft quite seriously. I saw more than a few Bloodies crafted under her keen eye and deft wrist with the shaker. I want to come back and try the Kick Back Jack, looked delish. There is a very inventive drink menu at SOB and the prices are pretty good too. My dove, I give you a 9

SOB Chicago
The Dove

 

2 Kinds of Cakes

Apple Cobbler

In unconventional gator style I’m starting with the rating. I have never rated ANYTHING a  10   I never believed that it was possible that I would find a dish that would rate that high. Chef Rick has done it. He broke my streak and now has a place in Breakfast Gator history. When I took a couple of bites of these I was actually speechless. The pancakes were super light and fluffy. They were thoroughly cooked but not dry. (I hate doughy or gooey undercooked pancakes). They were excellent all by themselves. They were topped with a concoction of roasted apples and a freakishly fantastic apple pie seasoned sauce. It was sprinkled with pieces of charred pie crust. Pure Genius. Rick I’m not sure if I should Kiss you or punch you for creating this increadable sexy masterpiece. I’m weeping as I’m typing this. You know what was wrong with these? Nothing.

Diane:

The arrival of this dish left us staring at each other and mouthing the words “pie crust” silently in tandem. The combination of real, made-from-scratch pancakes, lightly roasted  and glazed apples and tender bits of nicely  browned pie crust is pure magic. I cannot think of any better summary than Oh My these are a total 10!!!      10

 

SOB Chicago
Apple Cobbler Pancakes
SOB Chicago
Apple Cobbler Pancakes
SOB Chicago
Apple Cobbler Pancakes
SOB Chicago
Apple Cobbler Pancakes

 

Lemon Poppyseed Pancakes

More of the fantastic base pancakes topped with a delightful Poppyseed filled topping. A spoonful or 2 of blackberry compote and a dollop of ricotta. This is another killer execution of pancakery.    9    I can see the sign now. Rick and Davids Pancake Emporium

Diane:

I love how SOB uses all types of plates for their dishes…70’s harvest orange stoneware, delft blue stoneware as seen here under the tender and fluffy Lemon Poppyseed cream cakes. I call them cream cakes because there was a dollop of whipped cheese, maybe macsaparone, I forgot to ask Rick. But I tell you the berry compote on top was tart and a perfect foil for the creamy lemon poppyseed sauce. Kevin, (who kept our table full of goodies) and  I agreed, this dish totally beats out berry Pop Tarts. Way.  9

SOB Chicago
Lemon Poppyseed Pancakes
SOB Chicago
Lemon Poppyseed Pancakes
SOB Chicago
Lemon Poppyseed Pancakes
SOB Chicago Lemon Poppyseed Pancakes
SOB Chicago
Lemon Poppyseed Pancakes
SOB Chicago
Lemon Poppyseed Pancakes

 

Well Gators That’s it. A REMARKABLE visit with Chef Rick at SOB by WISK. Put SOB and WISK on your MUST go to list. Oh by the way they do lunch and dinner too.

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I had to get a selfie with the 2 of us for 2 reasons. One day Rick is going to be a star on the Food Network and he will forget we ever met and 2 to be able to prove that I know him. I have one with brother David for the same reason.

The amazing and Handsome Chef Rick and some dude

 

 

As for us we’re off to our next adventure.

OM NOM NOM

 

 

 

The Lucky Penny Diner and Deli Naperville

The Lucky Penny WEBSITE

  Good Morning Gators!

It’s 6am and we are ready to get going. The Lucky Penny is in sort of a tough location. It’s tucked back in the corner of a strip mall and you can easily miss it.

The Lucky Penny
Strip Mall Sign
The Lucky Penny
Strip Mall Location
The Lucky Penny
Strip Mall Location
The Lucky Penny
Right next to the Nail Salon

 

As I was shooting these Diane went inside to claim a table. There aren’t any tables near a window so photo lighting will be a challenge.

 

The Lucky Penny
Halloween decorated foyer
The Lucky Penny
Waiting area
The Lucky Penny
Host station
The Lucky Penny
Interior
The Lucky Penny
Breakfast Bar

 

60’s rock music played in the background and it was very clean. We noticed a few cute things while we were deciding what to order. They have a big chalkboard with specials and other offerings. There were a couple of things on the table like a cool creamer cup, a hot sauce top decorated by a customer and a menu with their logo.

The Lucky Penny
Menu Board

The Lucky Penny
Customer Decorated Hot Sauce Bottle
The Lucky Penny
Menu Logo

 

We made some food decisions and ordered Coffee. The Coffee is decent but not outstanding   7   We also ordered made to order Donuts to start us off.

The Lucky Penny
Made to order Donuts
The Lucky Penny
Made to order Donuts

 

The Donuts are really more like Beignets. They were warm, super fluffy puffy, slightly crispy, a touch yeasty and melt in your mouth tender.  Yum   9

   Penny (yes there is actually a Penny at The Lucky Penny) noticed me using my light bar to brighten up the flat restaurant lighting and decided that she needed to check it out for herself.

Diane:

I really love arriving when a place is abuzz with all the startup activity…first pot of coffee, the smell of melted butter, cheery staff, all of it. We had visited Penney’s a few months ago to eat without blogging, so the menu was familiar and I was really looking forward to trying a few new items. I noted with glee that there were several pumpkin infused entrees to highlight the Autumn  season. I love the hearty coffee mugs, the roomy tables and comfy chairs. There is a very eclectic mix of art on the walls, including nature photos as well  as watercolor and pencil sketches, some of which are offered for sale. The vibe is comfy and  warm and clean and very friendly   9

The coffee was hot, which I really appreciate and our server understood my quirk or not wanting my cup topped off. When my cup of coffee (especially that precious first cup of the day) is “just right” with cream and sweetener, I want to enjoy it as it is until I have my 2nd cup. Props to Kris!

The made to order donuts were divine, golden  and crispy outside, melt in your mouth puffy inside, with a light glaze to complement  them, You can order 5 or 10, and they are so delicious. 9

 

The Lucky Penny
Penny Herself checking out my Light Wand

 

1st up

THE NAPER FRITTATA

I ordered this with a bit of hesitation. I thought that it might make for some dull photos and it does.

The Frittata was supplied with Hash Browns which I rarely eat. These were on point. They were salted properly and reasonably buttery. They were crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. I enjoyed them.   8    

As you know I generally don’t like anyones scrambled eggs but mine. This baked concoction was pretty decent. It was brown but not rubbery. It was a bit overcooked for me but not hammered. It had a good balance of ingredients and was fairly tasty but it didn’t wow me.   7    There is an option to upgrade your toast to a piece of coffee cake.  It’s moist, dense, and fruity.  Definitely worth the extra buck   8   

Diane’s take:

I really love Caramelized onions and Gouda cheese, so when I saw this on the menu, I really looked forward to the addition of chicken sausage in a frittata. So since i prefer my eggs well done, this was a great combo.   The onions tended to overpower the dish, and I would love to see them on the side instead of folded into the eggs. 6

The hash browns are worth a trip in…buttery and crispy and simply delicious. 8   The coffee cake was truly the best, a layer of fresh blueberry in the middle of a rich moist yellow cake. The  cinnamon crunch topping was spiced with smooth cinnamon and nutmeg to complement the cake perfectly. I even ordered a slice to take home for Monday breakfast. A true 10

The Lucky Penny
Naper Frittata
The Lucky Penny
Naper Frittata
The Lucky Penny
Hash Browns
The Lucky Penny
Blueberry Coffee Cake

 

2nd up

THE CUBAN BENNIE

 

The eggs were a bit under. The whites were a little snotty.   6    The pork was tender and tasty. I would have liked the heat kicked up a bit.   8   The Arepas were good. They were crisp and Corny. They were a good choice for this dish.   8   Overall this was a good combo.   8

Diane:

The originality of the Arepas as a slightly crispy bed for the savory carnitas was a nice touch. As I do not like poached eggs at all (no matter how Gene has tried to convert me) I focussed on the meat and Arepas which were extremely tasty. 8

The Lucky Penny
Cuban Benedict
The Lucky Penny
Cuban Benedict
The Lucky Penny
Cuban Benedict
The Lucky Penny
Cuban Benedict
Arepa

 

Lastly A seasonal item

 

Pumpkin Nut Cinnamon Swirl French Toast

I am typically brutal on French Toast. This version was actually good. I would order it again. It wasn’t overly pumpkinie or over spiced. It was well balanced and tasty.    It was well caramelized on the outside and tender on the inside    8   My only niggle is that I would have liked some real maple syrup for it.  (see the rant page)

Diane says:

I love the taste of pumpkin. However, at this time of year it seems overdone. Not this dish…it was just the right combination of nuts, very moist inside, and crispy buttery on the outside. Cinnamon butter topped off the luscious  Seasonal french toast.  8

The Lucky Penny
Pumpkin Nut Cinnamon Swirl French Toast
The Lucky Penny
Pumpkin Nut Cinnamon Swirl French Toast

 

This was our second trip to the LP. The first time we went we just went there for a non Gatoring breakfast. We liked it so much that we went back for a review. We spent some time on both visits with Penny. She is super friendly and has a real desire and drive to run a top notch establishment. Hopefully when you go there you’ll get a chance to say Hi.

Well thats it Gators. A good visit with Penny at the Lucky Penny.

As for Diane and me we are off to our next adventure.

 

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