Reviews of Breakfast and Brunch Restaurants

Bonefish Grill Schaumburg Illinois

Bonefish WEBSITE

Good Morning Gators!

It’s in the Middle of the Afternoon around 10AM. Diane and I are waiting for them to open up. This is a Gator first. I have never been to a place so late before. If it wasn’t for the fact that they take reservations I wouldn’t be here. I was actually kind of surprised at the lack of a ton of people waiting to get in at such a late start time.

Bonefish Grill
Exterior

I can’t remember ever reviewing a corporate chain before. I am not usually interested. I was poking around looking for a new place to review and saw that they do brunch. I had a feeling that not a lot of people were aware of that fact. Bonefish is part of Blooming’ Brands that owns Bonefish Grill, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, and Outback Steakhouse. 

We went inside and as usual got situated and I wandered off to take pictures. The place is just like me Big and beautiful. Modern fishy interior complete with fish art and big metal fish. Carpet free.     7     The subdued lighting is nice but for photography it sucks. Sorry in advance. The music was a mixed contemporary bag of borderline elevator.    6    

Bonefish Grill Schaumburg IL
Interior

Bonefish Grill Schaumburg IL
Interior

Bonefish Grill Schaumburg IL
Interior

Bonefish Grill Schaumburg IL
Interior

Bonefish Grill Schaumburg IL
Interior

Bonefish Grill Schaumburg IL
Interior

Bonefish Grill Schaumburg IL
Interior

Bonefish Grill Schaumburg IL
Interior

Bonefish Grill Schaumburg IL
Interior

Bonefish Grill Schaumburg IL
OHHHHH
BARA CUDA
Oh wait you’re probably too young

 

Our very friendly server Theresa brought coffee and menus. I can smell the darkness of the Coffee. I am opposed to dark roast coffee especially for Breakfast. It bulldozes over almost all Breakfast foods. At least it wasn’t weak and wimpy.    6    There wasn’t a lot of breakfasty choices. It was a mixed bag of stuff from the Lunch/Dinner menu with a few Breakfast items. This made choosing pretty easy. There are Salt and Pepper mills on the table!    

Diane: Since I realllllly liked the fact that we could sleep in and still have plenty of time to make the opening of 10am,  I was bright and bushy tailed !! I had an old playlist queued up on my IPod and we waited for Bonefish to open their doors while lip syncing in the Gator mobile. Adrenaline pumping, we were seated toward the back where the windows were. The lighting was subdued so we made the best of it. Theresa took great care to ensure we had coffee mugs full at all times. The steel blue walls and silver accents with dark wood decor was soothing yet modern. First impression  9

   

Diane has decided that we should Booze it up this morning. They have a few bottomless offerings to help make your morning brighter. Diane opted for Blackberry Sangria and I went the Italian route with Peach Bellini. They were both good.    8    We had a visit from Steve the culinary manager. A really nice guy. We chatted about the Brunch  Bidness.

Diane: The endless $10 breakfast drinks were perfect, this being Brunch, naturally! Fruity sangria was delish. The attention to keep our glasses filled earns Theresa a 9

Bonefish Grill Schaumburg IL
Booze for Breakfast ALA Diane

 

The Hollandaise was spicy and sweet like Orange Marmalade and Cayenne Pepper. Quite tasty.    8    The Small/ Medium Fried shrimp were spiced nicely but a bit soggy from the sauce.    7    The Poached Eggs were near perfect    9    The English Muffin was standard unbuttered and barely toasted.   6    The Asparagus was good. A smidge overcooked but still tender crisp.    7    Overall this was a pretty decent starter.   7/8  

Diane: As Benedicts go, this was top rate. the BB shrimp were tasty but unfortunately the sweet tangy sauce took away their crispy crunch. The marmalade spicy sauce was very good and the steamed asparagus Spears contrasted well with the sweet bath of orange. 7

Bonefish Grill Schaumburg IL
Bang Bang Shrimp Benedict

Bonefish Grill Schaumburg IL
Bang Bang Shrimp Benedict

Bonefish Grill Schaumburg IL
Bang Bang Shrimp Benedict

Bonefish Grill Schaumburg IL
Bang Bang Shrimp Benedict

Bonefish Grill Schaumburg IL
Bang Bang Shrimp Benedict Sort of toasted English Muffin

Bonefish Grill Schaumburg IL
Bang Bang Shrimp Benedict

 

Served with Potatoes Au Gratin and Toastage

 

The potatoes were served up in ball form. I wasn’t sure that I was a fan. As it turned out it wouldn’t have mattered if they served them in a Tennis Shoe. They were fabulous. Creamy Cheesy Buttery Salty Yummy      8    The Omelette was an anomaly. It was done in the Country French Style. Really rare in Breakfast places as they require some finesse.  I haven’t seen a Country French Omelette in the last hundred omelettes Ive had. Not familiar with Omelette styles? Hmmm? Click the link! Jacques Pepin Makes Omelettes  As usual it was overcooked. Too bad. I was really excited about it and hoped it would live up to the style. It was tasty though. Crabby and Cheesy. It was topped with fresh Basil which I love. Most places skip the fresh herbage. This had the potential of being a knockout.   7/8    The toast was fairly well toasted and it was actually pre buttered!    8

Diane: French Omelettes are my favorite. Puffy poofy eggs are just not my preference. The simplicity of this dish was simply divine! Silky melted butter with lemon juice and lump crabmeat atop the eggs tasted symphonic and the sharp creamy potatoes gratin were the perfect side dish. I would order this again and again  9

Bonefish Grill Schaumburg IL
Oscar Omelette

Bonefish Grill Schaumburg IL
Oscar Omelette

Bonefish Grill Schaumburg IL
Oscar Omelette

Bonefish Grill Schaumburg IL
Oscar Omelette
Au Gratin Potato Ball

 

 

 

This dish gave me fits. It was served to us on a plate that seemed like it had been refrigerated. This would have been fine for some desert items but not for french toast. It did a great job of keeping the fresh delicious whipped cream from wilting but the Bacon was as cold as the plate. It was pretty bad.    2    The French Toast although coolish was actually delicious. It was very orangie. The bread could have been soaked longer as usual but it wasn’t dry either. Served as usual with Fakle Syrup. (Fake Maple). In spite of its shortcomings The toast was decent and the fresh whipped cream was fab.    7    

Diane:  I absolutely agree with Gene about the cold plate making the bacon inedible. So while the kitchen gets props for caring to refrigerate their serving vessel, this was not the right application. 3

But let’s get to the toast , shall we !? the long oval slices are nice. The centers were lightly custardy and the French toast was griddled to the perfect brown gold. The berries were plump and sweet and the freshly whipped cream was great to dip the toast into.  7

The bottom line is that I would visit Bonefish again. The service was warm and caring, menu diverse without being bogged down will unnecessary choices. And there was Theresa:)

Bonefish Grill Schaumburg IL
Creme Brule French Toast

Bonefish Grill Schaumburg IL
Creme Brule French Toast

Bonefish Grill Schaumburg IL
Creme Brule French Toast

Well Gators that’s another review for you. I think that Bonefish is a good addition to the other breakfast hotspots in the Burg Like Wildberry Cafe and Egg Harbor. It’s a bit upscale. A nice place for a date or to take whiney relatives. Get over there. Ask for Theresa.

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

 

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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 Mason Jar Cafe Benton Harbor Michigan

The Mason Jar Cafe WEBSITE

Good Morning Gators!

We have a special long distance treat. Junior Gator Diane and myself are bringing you a review all the way from Benton Harbor. I was visiting Diane in her beautiful Air B&B rental property in Union Pier Michigan. Since I was going to be up there I thought that we should take advantage of it and do some Gatoring. After some discussion on  some possible locations a decision was made.

Geno:

The Mason Jar didn’t open until 8 on Sunday. Yet another place that doesn’t open till the middle of the day. We were there a minute or two after and the place already had customers. Diane went in to secure a spot and I took the required exterior and interior photos.

Diane

On holiday weekends, I usually shy away from going out for breakfast or dinner, since all of the out-of-towners are in town  for the long weekend. Waits are long and frustrating, especially when you need that first strong cup o’ Joe to pry the eyelids apart.  We found only a few tables occupied at 8:05am when we arrived. Gator likes to find a table near a window with lots of  natural light so I sat down and as soon as i saw him ambling toward me after walking in the door, I saw the teasing furrowed brow and head shake. In other words….Sorry girly you picked the wrong table. So we moved to the Sunny corner, and I ended up eating breakfast with my aviators on.  Within ten minutes, the place was filled with folks of all ages.

Mason Jar Cafe Benton Harbo MI
Exterior Complete With My Shadow

Mason Jar Cafe Benton Harbor MI
Interior

Mason Jar Cafe Benton Harbo MI
Interior

Mason Jar Cafe Benton Harbor MI

Mason Jar Cafe Benton Harbor MI
Interior

Geno:

With the job complete I went to take a seat. I found Diane at a table. Just like last week I didn’t approve of her choice and made her move. I’m going to make her gun shy on table choosing. She is going to stab me with a table knife. We took our seats and met our very friendly server Stephanie.

Coffee and water of course. The Coffee was strong but didn’t have a ton of personality.   7   The mug was cute and they DID have Splenda.

Diane:

Stephanie, our pleasant and perky waitress, arrived with a carafe of hot and strong coffee. It was very rich and a tad acidy, maybe a  Colombian roast. Heavy cream in a tiny pitcher was poured into my cup as i smiled widely in anticipation of that first sip (gulp).      8  

She conversed with us about the local fresh ingredients, and told us that if she could pick any place to eat in the area, she would pick Mason Jar. She knew the menu very well, and was able to answer each question we posed about the menu.   9

Mason Jar Cafe Benton Harbor MI
Coffee Mug

Mason Jar Cafe Benton Harbor MI
Sweetener Butler

The place is small and cute. The right size for a weekday visit but if you don’t get there early you are in for a wait. It was clean and carpet free. There was some kind of music playing but you really couldn’t hear it. There wasn’t a lot of tables but they were of reasonable size and reasonably spaced. The style of the place is a mish mash of stuff. It fits the neighborhood and the clientele. The place was devoid of Hipsters.

Geno:

The menu was of moderate size and a good mix of standards and more interesting choices. We had some discussion on the choices and the order of appearance. I insisted that we get an order of Nueske’s Bacon. The Nueske’s are 3rd generation meat smokers since 1933.    Nueske’s WEBSITE   The Bacon was ordered. We drank Coffee, chatted, and waited. Stephanie appeared with a plate.

The Mason Jar Benton Harbor MI
Nueske’s Bacon

Fantastic! Salty Smokey and a tiny touch of sweetness. This Bacon screams for a BLT with a garden fresh heirloom tomato, Toasted dense country white bread and some good Mayo. Alas it was not to be. Surprisingly there was not one on the menu. There really should be. I find this criminal. C’mon Mason Jar, fix this error and call it “The Gator” This Bacon is a   9    You could wrap this bacon around a Birkenstock and it would taste good.

Diane:

Several days before we decided on a place to Gator in the area of Michigan known as Harbor Country, we checked Yelp for spots to breakfast. Geno noted that the Mason Jar had 4.5 Stars and did a bit of research on the menu. NEUSKE’S BACON!!!! He shouted in text to me. One thing I do know about this dude, he knows good quality food purveyors and I figured that this $4.00 order of bacon was going to be Oh Yeah Baby bacon. Smokey sweet, medium crispy, not crackly, and not super salty. Now if you are a bacon lover, you can relate to wanting to consume an entire pound in one sitting. But this bacon was so rich and tasty, you only need two slices to be sated. 10

Next up

Crab Cake Benedict. This is an on and off special that does not appear on the menu. I know what you’re thinking. “Another Crab Cake Bennie”?! Yes I know but Dammit I love crab and I can’t seem to help myself. Diane doth not protest too much so the order is placed.

Pretty standard stuff. English Muffin, Crabby Cake, Poached Eggs, and Hollandaise. It was served with fresh local Asparagus and house spuds.

The Hollandaise was smooth Eggy and spicy. It could have used a touch more citrus. I like my Hollandaise with a bit of pop.    7    One of the muffins was well toasted (YAY) one was only partially toasted (UGH)    7    Toasting of the muffin is a crucial step. A crunchy English Muffin base provides a much needed textural contrast to a Bennie. This step is almost always a FAIL. The Mason Jar got it 1/2 right. The eggs were a touch under    7    The Asparagus was delightful. Tender Crisp fresh and grassy.     8    The house potatoes were fresh tender seasoned well and had the proper amount of char.    8    The Crab Cake was fried lightly. It was Crabby, seasoned well, and didn’t have too much filler. A good Cake.    8    This was a good rendition of a classic. An overall    8    A great start.

Diane:

In perusing the menu, I knew that Gator would want to order the CCB. The dish was delivered to our table relatively quickly after ordered. The local asparagus was thin, crisp tender and absolutely fresh and delicious, with light coating of olive oil from being sauteed.  The crab cake was full of crabmeat and was seasoned perfectly yet I took a pass on the egg and mushy muffin   7

 

The Mason Jar Benton Harbor MI
Crabcake Benedict

The Mason Jar Benton Harbor MI
Crabcake Benedict

 

Geno:

I like Ketchup or Catsup or America Sauce with my potatoes. Most of you know that I’m an HH or Heinz Hater. Mason Jar was stocked with a local Ketchup that had great Tomato flavor and the proper amount of sweetness.    8    

Diane:

I was a ketchup dope before I met Gene. Since I only use it on the occasional order of french fries, I buy whatever is on sale. However, all it took is taking the cap off the bottle of this locally made sauce to know how fresh it is. The natural sweetness of fresh tomatoes is all that comes through.  It was simply delicious with the red skinned breakfast potatoes.  7

The Mason Jar Benton Harbor MI
Local Ketchup

 

Next up

GOAT CHEESE AND GRIT CAKES *GF
Two pan seared grit cakes with goat cheese topped with two organic eggs any style and a side of breakfast potatoes

Geno:

Sunny side Up Eggs as a test. Test Passed. They were only a tad under and a bit brown but good over all. The three Grit Cake Squares were grilled crisp on one side only. The other side was warm but  they were soft, tender, creamy, corny, and salty  on the inside. They had just the right amount of funk from the goat cheese. They were a great second round.    9     They were supplied with more of the delicious Spuds.

Diane:

Unfortunately,  the eggs are cooked perfectly perfect, I cannot handle runny whites so I only ate the crusty perimeter of each egg. However, I was very intrigued by the grit cake with goat cheese, and after one bite, and many “mmmm’s” and “ahhhh’s”, deem this dish a win simply for the grit cake and taters.  7

The Mason Jar Benton Harbor MI
Goat Cheese and Grit Cakes

The Mason Jar Benton Harbor MI
Goat Cheese and Grit Cakes

The Mason Jar Benton Harbor MI
Goat Cheese and Grit Cakes

The Mason Jar Benton Harbor MI
Goat Cheese and Grit Cakes

The Mason Jar Benton Harbor MI
Goat Cheese and Grit Cakes

 

Next Next Up

CORNED BEEF HASH
House made corned beef hash with poblanos, onion and potatoes topped with two eggs any style and served with choice of Bit of Swiss toast

Bit of Swiss as I was told by Diane is a local Bakery. I love toast and I love it Buttered and Jammed. (See Rant Page) The Toast was pretty well toasted and much to my surprise and delight it was pre buttered. This is super rare.    9    Crispy Flavorful Sourdough. I was so excited about this toast that I took a big chomp before I took pictures so you get the photos with bitten toast.

Corned Beef Hash again Geno? Well Gators it was house made so I almost always order it. I am certainly glad that I did. The Over Medium Eggs were a little over and a bit brown. Eggs should not be brown.    7    OMG this Corned Beef was on point! I can’t even tell you why exactly. The seasoning was perfect as was the salt level. It was Salty and Beefy. The Poblanos added just the right touch of green pepper like astringency. It was a touch crispy and tender. This was some of the BEST Corned beef that I’ve ever had.    9      Drive to Benton Harbor and get some. Did you leave yet?

Diane

Gator ordered the eggs over medium for the sake of variety, and they were overdone so  of course I was delighted. The homemade corned beef was out of the world….rough cut chunks of tender CB with tons of flavor, sweet vidalia onions finely chopped, and tiny bits of crisply sauteed poblano pepper. You simply cannot believe how tasty this hash is, people. It is worth a stop off the highway to eat here, and order this dish. 9

The Mason Jar Benton Harbor MI
Corned Beef Hash

The Mason Jar Benton Harbor MI
Corned Beef Hash

The Mason Jar Benton Harbor MI
Corned Beef Hash

 

A side trip

Lavender Lemonade

Geno:

Lavender is really tricky. Too much and it tastes like Yardley Lavender Soap. This Lemonade was perfectly balanced. Sweet Tart with a touch of flowers.    8    

Diane:

I had to try this. The Mason Jar has quite the variety of handcrafted beverages such as blueberry buckle juice, cinnamon apple juice, and this lemonade. I enjoyed it after the egg and taters and CB hash as a refreshing palate cleanser.  8

The Mason Jar Benton Harbor MI
Lavender Lemonade

 

Local Hot Sauce

Stephanie inquired if we would like to try some local Hot Sauce. DUH. Bring It. All three were good and from Chicago.

The Mason Jar Benton Harbor MI
Hot Sauce

The Mason Jar Benton Harbor MI
Hot Sauce

 

The Final Next

ZUCCHINI BREAD WAFFLE *GF
Gluten-free waffle made with almond flour and topped with whipped butter (Yes we are serious!)

Geno:

When I ordered this I really didn’t expect much. I rarely order waffles. They are usually not crisp and usually don’t have a lot of flavor and I like mine with EXTRA Gluten. OOOOH Charlie. This waffle was spectacular. Crisp Fluffy Puffy Goodness. I don’t know if it was the Almond Flour or the little chunks of Zucchini. It was A great representation of the Waffle World. Gluten Shmooten.    9    The only thing bad about this Waffle was that there wasn’t 2 of them. It was served with REAL Maple Syrup. Good Job MJ.    9     

Diane:

For our sweet entree, we could not decide between this unique waffle offering, or the Sweet Banana Oat pancakes. We opted for the waffle and I am sooooo glad we did. Upon tasting the first little compartment of goodness, I thought of a french cruller…. a bit crisp on the outside, but airy, puffy, and tender on the inside.  The fruit on top was full of flavor and very sweet. It was served with sweet whipped butter and real maple syrup. OMG delicious.   9

The Mason Jar Benton Harbor MI
Zucchini Bread Waffle

The Mason Jar Benton Harbor MI
Zucchini Bread Waffle

The Mason Jar Benton Harbor MI
Zucchini Bread Waffle

 

 

Mason Jar Cafe Benton Harbor MI
Suppliers

Random Musing from Diane:

One of the things I loved most about the Mason Jar was their propensity to use small independent suppliers as much as possible. The sauces, the meats, the breads…..all local and unique and delicious. Our server Stephanie took great pride in sharing this with us.  10

Well that about does it Gators. This was an excellent visit. It was quite a surprise. A Pearl. You know what I didn’t like about the food? Nothing

As for us we are off to our next adventure.

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Who’s That Cutie?

The Baked Apple Breakfast Company Downers Grove Illinois

Baked Apple Website LINK

Good Morning Gators!

You are in for an unusual treat. I’m breaking in Junior Gator Diane Anderson this morning. She is going to be adding a new spin to my reviews. I’m not exactly sure on the format yet so bear with me while I iron it out. The plan at first is to get each of our takes on the place ala Siskel and Ebert. So here we go.

Geno:

We arrived at 6:05 (five minutes after opening) Yes, I know I’m never late. There were already 2 cars outside. I hate that. I try to get a photo of the outside of the building without the cars in the way. Oh well. Gator in Training Diane went inside to get a table while I got the pictures.

The restaurant is at the end of a strip. We drove past it once.

 

Baked Apple Breakfast Company Downers Grove
Exterior

Baked Apple Breakfast Company Downers Grove
Exterior with 2 Cars

Unbeknownst to me Diane was already chatting it up with the owner George. She was already seated at a table, but I made her get up and move to a booth by a window. George met me at the door. Diane had already informed him that we were on a mission. I told him to start a baked apple pancake because I know that they take close to 1/2 an hour to produce. I went over to the booth and stuffed myself in. The booths are the ones where the tables are affixed to the walls so that they don’t adjust for rotund people such as myself.

As per usual Coffee and water was requested and delivered. The Coffee is standard Suburban stuff. A bit weak and not a lot of personality   6   somewhere in the midst of all of this our server Gina came into the picture.

The restaurant is woody and brown. It’s adorned with Apple themed pictures and knick knacks. It’s BIG and bright. It’s super clean and carpet free. There is some kind of music way in the background but I couldn’t tell what genre it was.

Baked Apple Breakfast Company Downers Grove
Interior

Baked Apple Breakfast Company Downers Grove
Interior

Baked Apple Breakfast Company Downers Grove
Interior

Baked Apple Breakfast Company Downers Grove
Interior

Baked Apple Breakfast Company Downers Grove
Interior

Baked Apple Breakfast Company Downers Grove
Interior

Baked Apple Breakfast Company Downers Grove
Interior

The menu is a bit big for my taste. Mostly your usual suspects. It’s what I would call an upscale Greek family restaurant. It took awhile to peruse the menu and make a decision. OK ready to go.

Ranchero Benny
Chorizo and poached eggs over corn tortillas, with chipotle Hollandaise sauce
This is an interpretation  that I haven’t had before. The substitution of Corn Tortillas for the usual English Muffin was an interesting twist that I thought might be a fail. As it turned out it fit in with this rendition perfectly.
The Hollandaise was on point. It was Spicy Hot, Smokey, Silky Smooth, and not overly Thick. It would have been good on the bumper of a Chevy Cavalier.   9    The poached eggs were just a tad overcooked which is ok with me. I’d rather not have snotty whites.   8   The Chorizo was Super Spicy and salty and had the proper amount of fattiness.   8   The Factory Made Tortillas were tender and fresh   7   The Hash Browns were decent. Crisp Tender but a touch dry   6    Why don’t more places make home fry’s like  Mr A’s Restaurant in Roselle?  Overall this was  a great rendition of a classic Benedict.  I give it a High   8   or a low    9    in spite of it’s hap hazard platingThis is a definite re order item.
Diane:
So when I learned that  my new pal Geno loved breakfast and was even so bold to BLOG about it, I was pretty jazzed to be invited to join him on an adventure weekday breakfast treat. But as I work a Monday through Friday gig, this was possible because i am recuperating from foot surgery and was able to join him. He explained the basics….get up early to be the first patron, find a seat with lots of natural light, and remind him to check in to Facebook and Instagram.  Hmmmm, I thought…easy breezy!! However when my alarm rang at 5:30am, I questioned if I was really  hungry and ready to rise to this challenge. However, I decided this was going to be a blast, and got dressed, grumbling under my breath  but looking forward to that hot cup of coffee awaiting me. I found a table but it was not acceptable to the Gator, so we moved to a table along the wall with a window.  The only other customers in the restaurant were an elderly couple that was discussing homemade soup and were partaking of said soup at 6:00a.m. (Cream of spinach and Beef noodle on this Wednesday) On their way out they shared that they come to the Baked Apple every day for soup. Soup Groupies, I thought. Gina, our server, approached with a warm smile and it was evident she knew the menu inside out.
When Geno ordered a Ranchero Benedict ( this is a Gator MUST), I thought “uh oh, I may have to break my 25 year streak of no poached eggs”.  I waited patiently to taste the sauce, chorizo and taters, but only after his encouragement, did I try the egg nestled on the corn tortilla, with a spicy blanket of sauce. Oh, MMMM I was  missing out all these years and Geno said the eggs were a tad overdone. But I like my eggs over hard, so it was delicious to me.    7

The Baked Apple Breakfast Company Downers Grove
Ranchero Benny

The Baked Apple Breakfast Company Downers Grove
Ranchero Benny

The Baked Apple Breakfast Company Downers Grove
Ranchero Benny

The Baked Apple Breakfast Company Downers Grove
Ranchero Benny

The Baked Apple Breakfast Company Downers Grove
Ranchero Benny

The Baked Apple Breakfast Company Downers Grove
Ranchero Benny

The Baked Apple Breakfast Company Downers Grove
Ranchero Benny

Geno:
I was about to ask Gina the if I should order the next entree or wait for the Apple Pancake and Viola there it was. I have had these at a dozen places. The premise is pretty simple. sliced apples, sugar, or brown sugar, or both in a deep pan. Heat the pan to get the stuff cooking. Put the batter on top of the aforementioned mixture and bake. Turn the pancake over onto a plate and depending on your preference dust it with powdered sugar. The Baked Apple Breakfast Company’s version of this baby is about a foot across, smells like a hot apple pie and tastes like it too. A ton of Apples a lot of cinnamon nice and sweet but not overly so. A bit crispy outside soft and ooey gooey inside. It could have been cooked a little longer for my taste.  This was a lot of chopped Apples held together with a little batter.    8    
Diane:
 The last Baked Apple pancake I had was when I was a waitress at the Prime Minister Restaurant in Highland, Indiana. I dreaded when a customer ordered one, especially on Sunday morning with the busy after-church crowd. But, being  new and compliant (so far) Junior Gator, I looked forward to enjoying the sweet dish. There must have been at least six tart sweet apples in this pancake. I expected a cloyingly sweet aftertaste after my first bite, but I was pleasantly surprised that the tart apple taste was dominant. I liked the fact that it was not overly cooked and the texture of the custard was silky and smooth.  This dish can easily feed 4-5,         9

The Baked Apple Breakfast Company Downers Grove
Baked Apple Pancake

The Baked Apple Breakfast Company Downers Grove
Baked Apple Pancake

The Baked Apple Breakfast Company Downers Grove
Baked Apple Pancake

 

Strawberry Shortcake
French toast stuffed with sweet cream cheese; topped with fresh strawberries
Geno:
We didn’t order this. This was a house specialty that was a gift from the staff. What they didn’t know is that they were serving French Toast to the worst possible person to serve French Toast to. So How was it? Well the Strawberries were fresh and delicious. The Cream Cheese filling was rich creamy and tasty. It would have been good on a Chuck Taylor. The French Toast? Unfortunately it was your usual sub standard restaurant French Toast. See the rant page for the full explanation. Of course they are going to get “THE LINK” Alton Brown Makes French Toast. Anyway overall it still tastes good.   6   
Diane:
When Gina stated that there was homemade cream cheese in this dish, my eyes grew round as saucers.  Cream cheese, any cream cheese, is good cream cheese. But HOMEMADE, you say?? Well with my fork poised in midair, I waited not so patiently for Gator to take his photos, and when he gave the nod, I dug in happily. The berries were ripe and sweet, the creamy cheesy goodness was delicious but the toast was dry and just…..well, dry.   5

Baked Apple Breakfast Company Downers Grove
Strawberry Shortcake French Toast

Baked Apple Breakfast Company Downers Grove
Strawberry Shortcake French Toast

Baked Apple Breakfast Company Downers Grove
Strawberry Shortcake French Toast

 

El Mariachi Skillet
Bacon, avocado, jalapeno, and melted jack cheese
Geno:
I mean REALLY. Bacon Avocado and Cheese? How can you possibly miss? I ordered the Eggs SS up as a test and they were actually cooked pretty close to perfect. An unheard of 9. The veggies were tender crisp and the spuds were cooked pretty well. This was another good dish.   9   
Diane:
I learned a lot from Gator in regards to how to spot a properly cooked egg. As my style of choice is scrambled beyond recognition, I scowled when he ordered eggs with the yellow so, well….yellow. However, I agree that these SS looked perfect, there was no translucent yuck jelly on them. They tasted quite lovely with the tender crisp veggies, smooth avocado and crispy hash browns.
Note: there is only one hot sauce offering, which is a bit unfortunate since the dishes are very good but a nice choice of hot juice would spice things up nicely.     8      As a side note, this was super yummy the next day, heated up in the foil to-go container with a bit of Tajin seasoning sprinkled on top.

The Baked Apple Breakfast Company Downers Grove
El Mariachi Skillet

The Baked Apple Breakfast Company Downers Grove El Mariachi Skillet

The Baked Apple Breakfast Company Downers Grove
El Mariachi Skillet

 

Healthy Start Panini
Egg white scrambler with avocado, green peppers, and mushrooms on panini pressed multi-grain bread
Geno:
This was another gratis dish from George. (Thanks George) What he didn’t know was that I’m not a fan of sandwiches for breakfast. I’m also not a fan of healthy for breakfast but that won’t stop me from giving it a fair shot.
This dish was supplied with a fruit cup. The Strawberries were red ripe and delicious but the melon was under ripe and under whelming.   5    Generally veggies and egg whites don’t play nice together. they end up watery and separated. Surprisingly this wasn’t the case. Everything stayed glued together pretty well. The veggies were tender crisp and earthy. The bread was decent and well toasted. Except for the fact that it needed a little salt it was actually a pretty good sandwich for being healthy.   A surprising    7  
Diane:
It is evident that the owner George is proud of his establishment and the pride shows when he placed this sandwich down in front of us.
At first I thought, after all this carboliciousness, I suppose this healthy dish is a nice offering from him so we can see there is something for everyone on the menu. I loved the avocado which made the omission of cheese not so bad. In my book, everything needs cheese.    Strongly concur with Gator     7

The Baked Apple Breakfast Company Downers Grove
Healthy Start Panini

The Baked Apple Breakfast Company Downers Grove
Healthy Start Panini

The Baked Apple Breakfast Company Downers Grove
Healthy Start Panini

 

Well that’s it Gators. A good visit with George and his staff. This is a good clean suburban stop that you should add to your list.

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

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Mortar And Pestle Chicago

Mortar and Pestle WEBSITE

Good Morning Gators!

Mortar and Pestle opens at the late hour of 8am and of course we were waiting out on the sidewalk for them to open.

They unlocked the door on time so in we go.

Mortar and Pestle Chicago
Exterior

The place is pretty cute and pretty small. It must be quite a wait on the weekends. The decor is very woody. A lot of distressed wood and  wood accents in no particular architectural style. Artwork and antique stained glass dot the walls. The music was medium upbeat Jazz music.   8    The perimiter chairs were small, metal, and not fat friendly. There is a long high top community table running down the center of the place. This is a double whammy for me. I really dislike community AND high top tables.  4

Mortar and Pestle Chicago
Interior

Mortar and Pestle Chicago
Interior

Mortar and Pestle Chicago
Interior

Mortar and Pestle Chicago
Dreaded Community Table

We are seated in the center of the restaurant against the wall but requested to be moved to a table by the window. We were obliged.

The reclaimed wood style tables are beautiful and the fresh flowers are a nice touch.

Mortar and Pestle Chicago
Reclaimed Wood Table Top

Mortar and Pestle Chicago
Fresh Flowers

 

Of course Coffee and water was in order. The Coffee supplier is Big Shoulders Coffee. It was good and it was strong   8   This is one of those restaurants that doesn’t want to poison you with artificial sweeteners so much to my dismay the only sweeter on the table was a couple forms of sugar.

Mortar and Pestle Chicago
Coffee Cup

The first thing I noticed on the table was that there wasn’t any standard size spoons. The setup included an espresso spoon. I found this a bit odd. This is the first time I’ve seen this.

Mortar and Pestle Chicago
Mystery Espresso Spoon

The menu is relatively short with 7 breakfast entrees at the time of this writing. Most of you know I’m ok with that.

I generally don’t order an appetizer but they had Avocado toast which even though is getting a bit tired, I do like it if it’s seasoned right. I ordered up.

AVOCADO TOAST
Lemon, Cumin, Aleppo Pepper Flakes, Smoked Salt, Chives

The toast was only toasted on the top side.   4   I’m not sure if this was a textural decision by the chef  or a toaster malfunction. In spite of that it was tasty, creamy, citrusy,  seasoned well and a touch of heat. Hey it’s Avocado on toast. Good knife cuts Chef. A tad bit of finishing salt would have been good here.   8   

Mortar and Pestle Chicago
Avocado Toast

Mortar and Pestle Chicago
Avocado Toast

Mortar and Pestle Chicago
Avocado Toast

 

ALASKAN KING CRAB BENEDICT
Poached Egg, Sriracha Hollandaise, Watercress, English Muffin

Crab Benedict? Everybody has one. This one was good. The Hollandaise was on point. Creamy, Smooth, Tangy, with a touch of heat.   9   The King Crab was unadulterated which was fine with me. King Crabalicious.   9   The poached eggs were near perfect.   9   The English Muffin was warm but un toasted. UGH. There really is no excuse for serving an un toasted Muffin.  4    This entree was served unadorned. for 17 bucks you would think you would get some spuds. Although I’ve had dozens of Crab Benedicts, this was a standout   9

Mortar and Pestle Chicago
King Crab Benedict

Mortar and Pestle Chicago
King Crab Benedict

Mortar and Pestle Chicago
King Crab Benedict

Mortar and Pestle Chicago
King Crab Benedict

Mortar and Pestle Chicago
King Crab Benedict

Mortar and Pestle Chicago
King Crab Benedict

Mortar and Pestle Chicago
King Crab Benedict

Mortar and Pestle Chicago
King Crab Benedict

 

FOIE GRAS AND EGGS
Soft Scramble, Truffle Carpaccio, Caramelized Onions, Creme Fraiche, Chive, Toast

My Liver Meter is registering High

Most of you know that aren’t too many items on my Do Not Eat list. Liver IS on that list. Oh what the Hell. There are not a lot of things on the menu and this is something that I haven’t had before. Bring It.

The Foie. The liver flavor is not too forward. If you get a good combination bite it’s actually pretty good. The scrambled eggs were pleasantly soft and supple. This is unusual for restaurant scrambled Eggs.   8   Black Truffle. Black Truffles and Scrambled Eggs are a classic combo. The onions were well caramelized. This was an unusual but delicious dish. It was better than I expected.  8   OH and the toast? It was uninspired and un buttered. At least it’s toasted. (See the rant page)   5   The house made jam was good though.   8   

 

Mortar and Pestle Chicago
Foie Gras and Eggs

Mortar and Pestle Chicago
Foie Gras and Eggs

Mortar and Pestle Chicago
Foie Gras and Eggs

Mortar and Pestle Chicago
Foie Gras and Eggs

Mortar and Pestle Chicago
Toast

 

FRENCH TOAST
Brioche, Custard Royale, Foie Gras Torchon, Bacon Powdered Sugar

YES I risked ordering french toast. It’s a signature dish for them.

While we were waiting The chef owner Steven Paul brought over some Chipotle Deviled Eggs with house made Chicharrones to try. How nice was that? I love Deviled Eggs and these were a great bite. Smokey, Spicy, Silky and a touch of crunchy texture from the Chicharrones.   8   Thanks Chef!

Mortar and Pestle Chicago
Chipotle Deviled Eggs

Mortar and Pestle Chicago
Chipotle Deviled Eggs

 

OK. French toast has arrived. WOW! Impressive. The first thought that went through my head was that it was NOT going to be custardy eggy French Toast Joy on the inside but just dry bread.

Mortar and Pestle Chicago
French Toast

 

Unfortunately for me I was right. It WAS just unsoaked bread on the inside. Very disappointing.

Of course you know they are going to get “The Link”

Alton Brown Makes French Toast LINK

This FT is a   5   The Syrup is the real deal though   9

 

Mortar and Pestle Chicago
French Toast Interior

 

Well Gators that puts a lid on it. An overall good visit. The service was a little lacking but the food was mostly delicious. We got to share some bites with a couple of nice ladies at the next table and of course I forgot to ask them their names.

As for me I’m on to my next adventure!

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