Reviews of Breakfast and Brunch Restaurants

Oswego Family Restaurant Oswego Illinois

Good Morning Gators!

We are kicking it old school today with a visit to a 50’s Diner. We have been coming here for awhile now on a pretty consistent basis. There are a couple of places that I haunt that I’ve not reviewed. I feel like my regular spots are mine and I won’t share. I broke with that tradition with OFR as they refer to themselves. They certainly don’t need any recommendations from me as if you get there an hour after they open you’ll be standing outside waiting for a table.

Oswego Family Restaurant
Oswego Illinois

Oswego Family Restaurant
Oswego Illinois

We arrived about 15 minutes early to be sure of securing a particular table that I wanted. About 5 to 7 we got out of the BREKFST mobile, took a couple pics, and went in. Diane was greeted by Zetti our server. They had a chit chat while I took the interior shots. I returned to the table and tasted the coffee. Since I’ve been here before I already knew that although not spectacular the Intelligencia coffee they brew is certainly superior to most diners.   7   Zetti told us about the specials and we made a few instant decisions. I also told  Zetti that I want one of their spectacular (oops spoiler) Cinnamon rolls when they are ready.

This place is pretty legit. It’s a mish mash of stuff from old radios to bikes hanging from the ceiling. From classic artwork reproductions to Andy and Starsky and Hutch. I love that fact that it’s not full of forced 50’s junk. this place has it’s very own real personality. The music is provided by the radio playing one of my favorite stations. A local Aurora/Naperville station “The River” Classic Rock   9   

Diane:  When we moved to the area last Summer, G tried a few local places for breakfast, and I was not very surprised to hear his response when I eagerly asked if he enjoyed his meal. Not ever one to mince words, he would usually respond with a heavy sigh and a frown. So I was more than a bit surprised when he told me about a little place in downtown Oswego with a glimmer of hope in his dreamy brown eyes (he may be blushing about now). So on some Sundays we get up early and show up shortly after the staff to have a delicious breakfast. A giant part of their success is the way the staff makes you feel. From the get-go, you get the sense that your patronage matters. The warm yet unobtrusive waitresses keep your coffee topped off, notice if you are squinting from morning sun coming through the blinds (and adjust them accordingly), and greet everyone as they enter. I always feel valued and this place is so damn charming you feel hugged by the time you leave.  Not a fan of  diner decor, I must admit that here it is just right.  10

IMPORTANT REALITY…… bring cash as your plastic is NO good here.

 

Oswego Family Restaurant
Oswego Illinois

Oswego Family Restaurant
Oswego Illinois

Oswego Family Restaurant
Oswego Illinois

Oswego Family Restaurant
Oswego Illinois

Oswego Family Restaurant
Oswego Illinois

Oswego Family Restaurant
Oswego Illinois

Oswego Family Restaurant
Oswego Illinois
Classic Diner Advertising Revenue Generator

Oswego Family Restaurant
Oswego Illinois

Oswego Family Restaurant
Oswego Illinois

Oswego Family Restaurant
Oswego Illinois

Oswego Family Restaurant
Oswego Illinois
Sugar Butler

Oswego Family Restaurant
Oswego Illinois
CASH ONLY BITCHES

The first thing we ordered was a special.

Surf and Turf Hash

Filet Shrimp Bell Peppers Tomatoes Red Onion Mushrooms Applewood Smoked Bacon Sharp Cheddar and Home Fries and eggs.

Much to our surprise the owners son delivered to us something that was going to be brand new to the menu.

Leaning tower of Biscuits

Quite a concoction. it had a whole lot of stuff going on. Classic White Sausage Gravy, Fried Chicken, Bacon, Sausage Patty, 2 Hard fried eggs and of course a couple of biscuit halves. Impaled through its heart by a metal skewer. A sloppy but amazing presentation. The Gravy is smooth and creamy but a bit under seasoned with decent amount of sausage. The Fried Chicken is Crisp and Chickenie. The Bacon is well rendered and smokey. The Sausage and Biscuit were pretty standard stuff. Although I really don’t like hard cooked fried eggs this worked perfectly in this conglomeration. Overall this was a pretty well crafted and thought out dish. As you know I had a million breakfast combos but certainly none with a plating like this. Good job Chef.    8    This will be a great menu addition and something that I would order again. Right in the middle of dissecting this the Hash arrived. I kind of suspected that this may happen. I was annoyed but tried to speed things along in my process. The tower doesn’t photograph well. You’ll have to go there and see it in person.

Diane:

Few things impress me more when dining than a table visit by the proprietor In my opinion, pride in what kind of product you produce and present, whether a automobile, a piece of art, or a culinary offering….is a key component to its quality. Nick the owner should be very proud that his kids make such an impactful part of OFR’s success.This dish was presented with a sly grin and a promise that it will soon join the rest of the menu. Delicious savory sausage gravy bathes a  kebab type plating of tender and juicy chicken breast, baking powder biscuit, smoky bacon, melts American cheese and hard cooked egg. You can rest assured I will be back and order this 9

Oswego Family Restaurant
Leaning Tower Of Biscuits

Oswego Family Restaurant
Leaning Tower Of Biscuits

Oswego Family Restaurant
Leaning Tower Of Biscuits

Oswego Family Restaurant
Leaning Tower Of Biscuits

Oswego Family Restaurant
Leaning Tower Of Biscuits

Oswego Family Restaurant
Leaning Tower Of Biscuits

Oswego Family Restaurant
Leaning Tower Of Biscuits
Egg Flaps

 

The Hash arrived

More delicious bacon. Deep fried potato nuggets that they call home fries. the veggie mix made the plate. It was tender crisp and charred. The over medium eggs were cooked to my liking. The Filet was a bit overcooked for my taste but tenderloin can take a little overcooking. the medium small shrimp were grilled as well and again for me a bit over. This was another tasty dish and again something that I would get again. A STEAL for under 10 bux. Another    8    I forgot the toast. Challah toasted well and pre buttered!    8  

Diane:

Each time I have been here with G, there is some type of Hash on the Specials board. Last visit there was Corned beef hash (Great!) Today Zetti told us that in addition to the Surf and Turf hash, Chef would be happy to craft a Salmon hash or other variations too. The portions are gigantic as well 9

Oswego Family Restaurant
Surf and Turf Hash

Oswego Family Restaurant
Surf and Turf Hash

Oswego Family Restaurant
Surf and Turf Hash

Oswego Family Restaurant
Surf and Turf Hash

Oswego Family Restaurant
Surf and Turf Hash

Oswego Family Restaurant
Surf and Turf Hash
Home Fries

Oswego Family Restaurant
Pre Buttered Challah Toast

 

 

Finally the Roll

Heaven. Soft supple sweet. Light but firm dough. The frosting tasted like it had cream cheese in it. lots of cinnamon. This roll is worth the trip all on it’s own. Go get one.    It’s probably the best you’ve ever had    9    

Diane:

There is no appropriate adjective to adequately describe this cinnamon roll. G summed it up…you need to try these. During this visit, 3-4 passersby  came in for rolls to stroll. Another huge hit 10

Oswego Family Restaurant
Cinnamon Roll

Oswego Family Restaurant
Cinnamon Roll

Oswego Family Restaurant
Cinnamon Roll

Oswego Family Restaurant
Cinnamon Roll

Oswego Family Restaurant
Cinnamon Roll

Oswego Family Restaurant
Cinnamon Roll

 

That wraps it up Gators. A  great visit to a place in a time warp. A basic breakfast spot with a few twists. Take the drive over there you’ll thank us.

As for us were off to our next adventure.

 

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Buttermilk Naperville

Buttermilk WEBSITE

Good Morning Gators!

Its 6:55. I’m outside of Buttermilk Naperville taking pictures. Cold and ready to go inside. The is the new second location. The first location is in Geneva Illinois. I have been looking forward to reviewing the new place. Naperville is really lacking for good places to eat good breakfast. It’s such a breakfast desert that even the crappy places do good business. We saw them unlock the door so we went in. As you can see there were others waiting as well.

Buttermilk Naperville
Exterior Including the bright red BREKFST Mobile

Buttermilk Naperville
Exterior

Buttermilk Naperville
Exterior

We parked at a table near the window but Diane knew that I was unhappy. While I went off to take the interior shots she procured a different table. I was much happier.

Buttermilk Naperville
Interior

Buttermilk Naperville
Interior

Buttermilk Naperville
Interior

Buttermilk Naperville
Interior

Buttermilk Naperville
Interior

Buttermilk Naperville
Interior

Buttermilk Naperville
Interior

Buttermilk Naperville
Interior

Buttermilk Naperville
Interior

The strong scent of Bacon filled the air. The Music was a mash up of several decades. The Decor is white and medium brown with a splash of cow. Carpet Free.    8    

Somehow by magic coffee appeared. I usually have some name of some coffee supplier inserted here. I don’t today so make one up. The coffee is good however. A blend of some sort. No distinct flavor profile.    8    No artificial coffee sweetners are present. This is generally a statement by the restaurant that says “we love you so much that we don’t want to poison you. I find it ironic that they serve  Heinz catsup loaded with High Fructose Corn Syrup. They have white sugar, Turbinado sugar, and Stevia. Stevia makes your coffee taste like weeds.  The Cream was in a cute mini Milk Can.

Diane:

I enjoy the crisp white n’ black Decor of the original spot, so to see dove gray walls and beechwood greybrown wood accents really made it look fresh. The chairs are this faux driftwood looking style.  The warm smiles of the hostess and servers are a good sign. I must divulge that during a non-Gator breakfast trip to the Geneva spot several months ago with Man o’ mine, sour scowls were the collective face of Buttermilk staff on that Sunday morn. I love dining where you feel the staff has fun at what they do. Music was Vance Joy and similar popfolk type tunes. Like.

Gene was long over being wee bit cranky since the lighting was not right but we settled in at a four top which was much better. A carafe of hot coffee appeared. My first time trying Stevia was a bust. Double yuck, I need to pack my Splenda next time.  Emma was so friendly and made the meal even more memorable, very patient and accommodating when I switched tables so Gene could have optimum natural light. Nice vibes here. 9

Buttermilk Naperville
Tiny Milk Can

Our delightful server Emma pointed out the specials. It didn’t take long to decide. The menu was bigger than I would have liked but I’ll live. It’s the same menu as the Geneva location. They had a reasonable sized Vegan/gluten free menu and they also had some alcohol options. The first thing we ordered was one of the specials.

 

House made cheddar corn fritters topped with smoked BBQ Brisket, Chow Chow Relish Poached Eggs, a Smoked Gouda Cheese Sauce and Pork Rinds

 

Our Entree arrived in seconds.

The highlight of this dish and the reason I ordered it was to try the house made Corn Fritters. I pushed the toppings aside to reveal a Golden deep fried disc. Close to Hockey Puck size but half the thickness. I forked through it and gave it a taste. Crunchy Corney Greasy and a tad sweet. Quite good.    8    Brisket next. It was super tender seasoned beautifully and smoke kissed.     9     The eggs were a bit under.    6     The Chow Chow Relish was excellent    9    This is a great conglomeration. They need to add it to the menu.    9    A great imaginative dish. It hits all the buttons. Sweet Salt and Fat. Good job Chef. Go get this before it’s gone.

Diane:

It could not have been simpler to pick our first dish. There were four specials, and this one sounded so right. It was delivered quickly and piping hot, so Gene got right to exercising his  photography chops. Much to his chagrin, I loathe poached eggs but I love the stuff that dresses up a Bennie. The pork rind garnish added a spot of whimsy to this superb dish.  8.  The corn cake was crisp  and sweet,  with the chow chow chutney adding a nice tiny flame to the forkful of taste.  8.  The brisket was thinly carved instead of served in little chunks, which was a nice touch. 8

I agree with Gene that Chef should add this to the Bennie offerings on a more regular basis. I call the sum of all this a solid  9

Buttermilk Naperville
Chow Chow Benedict

Buttermilk Naperville
Chow Chow Benedict

Buttermilk Naperville
Chow Chow Benedict

Buttermilk Naperville
Chow Chow Benedict

Buttermilk Naperville
Chow Chow Benedict

Buttermilk Naperville
Chow Chow Benedict

Buttermilk Naperville
Chow Chow Benedict
Pork Rind Topping

 

Diane wanted what is traditionally our last course to be the next course.

Three Milks French Toast

Our version of a Tres Leche cake (french toast style) encrusted in coconut fakes and topped with cinnamon whipped cream and hazelnut syrup and a drizzle of coconut cream sauce

 

This order took a few seconds longer than the first one I’m guessing because the place started filling up. I tasted the cream topping first. Delish. Coconutty but not overly sweet. The hazelnut syrup was a sidecar. It was fake maple syrup with a slight hint of hazelnut. Eh it was ok. You know how I feel about fake maple syrup… Then there is the French Toast. Yes I know I don’t usually order it because I’m pre disposed to not like the preparation of it. This was how I felt about this. It was very tasty but inconsistently prepared. Part of it was just dry bread and part of it was soaked correctly, Soft moist and eggy. They were SO close to a big hit. In spite of the sloppy prep I enjoyed it.    8   Give this a few tweaks and it will be a 9.  Soak the bread longer and offer real Maple syrup as an up charge.

Diane:

The possibilities this dish held wooed me to want it as a second offering….toasted coconut and cinnamon whipped cream!!! The downside I see was that the crusts and surrounding bread was not nearly as custard like as the center. The coconut cream sauce was delicious so the hazelnut concoction was unnecessary.  I honestly felt as though four bites from each slice were so good, but the rest was totally not good at all. I really would like to see this prepared so the entire slice is silky.   7

Buttermilk Naperville
Three Milks French Toast

Buttermilk Naperville
Three Milks French Toast

Buttermilk Naperville
Three Milks French Toast

Buttermilk Naperville
Three Milks French Toast

Buttermilk Naperville
Three Milks French Toast
Dry Bread

Buttermilk Naperville
Three Milks French Toast
Fake but Hot Syrup

 

It’s 8:19 and the place is packing up. We placed our last order.

Stuffed Breakfast Biscuit

Homemade biscuit stufed with cherry wood smoked bacon, scrambled eggs, sausage gravy, cheddar jack cheese. Topped with more sausage gravy, cheddar, and crumbled bacon. Served with farmhouse potatoes

This technical breakfast marvel was the size of a Baseball. The gravy was smooth soft and savory. It had just a slight hint of flour taste but delicious.    8    The biscuit was more like a thin layer of bread. Iv’e never seen anything like it. It was sort of like a breakfast Calzone. Right under the surface was a layer of Heavily smoked chopped Bacon. It was perfect for this. The eggs were overcooked of course. The Farmhouse potatoes were your standard diced fried potatoes. They were embellished with cheese bacon peppers and onions. Yummy.  This engineering marvel was quite a delicious treat.      8     I would get this again.

Diane:

Its getting very noisy by 8:30am, so much so that you cannot hear your dining buddy clearly. There are many young families on this Sunday morning so I suggest  coming during the week or on Weekends at 7am sharp. IT GETS LOUD.  5

Ok now for the biscuit situation. Buttermilk has an entire segment of the menu devoted to biscuits. That’s right. We tried the mini basket with honey butter on another visit so I was jazzed to try a savory biscuit offering! It arrives with a flourish and when you lift the plate it feels as though it’s 7 pounds of food. One bite is full of egg, bacon, cheese and delicious sausage gravy surrounded by a whisper thin layer of biscuit dough 8

The farmhouse potatoes are available for all entries at a two buck upcharge, but they come with this dish.  Cubed red potatoes crisped and seasoned perfectly, with melted jack,  sautéed scallions and a dash of sausage gravy 9

My suggestion is that Buttermilk retool this dish so it’s half this size. Three hungry adults could share this and a short stack of lovely upgraded cakes and go home satiated nicely. A very tasty and hearty dish it is!

Buttermilk Naperville
Stuffed Biscuit

Buttermilk Naperville
Stuffed Biscuit

Buttermilk Naperville
Stuffed Biscuit

Buttermilk Naperville
Stuffed Biscuit
Overcooked Eggs

Buttermilk Naperville
Stuffed Biscuit
Biscuit Shell

Buttermilk Naperville
Stuffed Biscuit
Biscuit shell

Buttermilk Naperville
Stuffed Biscuit
Layer O Smokey Bacon

 

Well Gators That wraps it up. I’m pretty pumped that Naperville has a new Upscale Breakfast spot. It was a good visit and we will definitely be back. I’m going to add this to my “Best of List”

 

Get there early or wait. Your choice.

I HATE to wait. Good thing I didn’t have to

 

 

Please “Like” Breakfast Gator on Facebook and enjoy following us on Instagram-  breakfastgator

 

As for us were off to our next adventure

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?

WHISK Chicago Illinois

WHISK WEBSITE

Happy Valentines Day Gators!

Happy Valentines Day Gators!

Happy Valentines Day Gators!

We arrived at WHISK early as usual so listening to tunes in the BREKFST mobile was in order. WHISK opens at 7 YAY! You know how I hate those City places that don’t open till 9.

OK 6:55 and I’m ready to go. I check the door and it’s OPEN. I’m very happy about this. I’ve been to several places that didn’t open till 8 or 10 minutes past when they were supposed to.

WHISK Chicago

WHISK Chicago

 

As soon as I stepped through the red breezeway door I knew I was in for something out of the ordinary. To the left is A giant fork and whisk.

WHISK Chicago Giant fork and whisk

WHISK Chicago
Giant fork and whisk

To the right is a Ron Swanson art gallery.

WHISK Chicago Ron Swanson Art Gallery

WHISK Chicago
Ron Swanson Art Gallery

Who is Ron Swanson? for those not in the know click the link that follows to find out.   WHO IS RON SWANSON?

WHISK Chicago Interior

WHISK Chicago
Interior

WHISK Chicago Interior

WHISK Chicago
Interior

WHISK Chicago Interior

WHISK Chicago
Interior

WHISK Chicago Interior

WHISK Chicago
Interior

WHISK Chicago Interior

WHISK Chicago
Interior

WHISK Chicago Interior

WHISK Chicago
Interior

WHISK Chicago Interior

WHISK Chicago
Interior

WHISK Chicago Interior Wall of Fame

WHISK Chicago
Interior Wall of Fame

WHISK Chicago Giant Ron Swanson

WHISK Chicago
Giant Ron Swanson

 

We were first to arrive. Normally I take a spot by a window for photographic purposes but this place is somewhat of a cave. The lighting is low and no windows. I apologize in advance for the lack of pop in my pictures. All of that said let me tell you that WHISK is at the top of the heap in unusual decor. It’s a crazy mix of styles and art. No carpet   10   60’s-70’s music   9   

Coffee is ordered and served.   7   It was supplied with a stick. An unusual and interesting move.It took me awhile to figure out why they would do this.  I normally end up using my spoon in my coffee so I hate to use it for anything else. The simple addition of a stick to the mix eliminates me sacrificing my spoon.   10

WHISK Chicago Coffee and Stick

WHISK Chicago
Coffee and Stick

  

Water is Corked and ready   9   and water jars are on hand.

WHISK Chicago Water Bottle

WHISK Chicago
Water Bottle and Jars

The menu is shortish   8   You know I hate extensive menus. The menu is also decorated with a Sugar Skull.

WHISK Chicago Menu with Sugar Skull Watermark

WHISK Chicago
Menu with Sugar Skull Watermark

It didn’t take too long to make a decision…

1st up

BRISKET HASH
House-braised beef brisket, bell peppers, fresh jalapeños, onion, and chard served on top of house potatoes, topped with two eggs any style and pepper jack cheese sauce, and choice of toast

Let’s talk TOAST.

START Rant– I like my toast toasted well. I know this is a personal choice. I also like my toast pre buttered. This is a controversial topic. almost as controversial as whether the toilet paper should roll from the top or the bottom of the roll. (TOP of course) It never fails. you get unbuttered  toast from the kitchen and by the time you get it it’s not hot enough to melt the butter so this is what you end up with.  Cold toast and unmelted butter. Sadness. I think that you should be offered buttered toast.– END Rant.

I need to point out in WHISK’s defense the bread that they used for the two kinds of toast that I got was of great quality.   8   for the bread quality  3   for the cool light toast.

WHISK Chicago Cool Toast that could be toasted darker.

WHISK Chicago
Cool Toast that could be toasted darker.

WHISK Chicago UNmelted Butter Sadness

WHISK Chicago
UNmelted Butter Sadness

Enough about toast already!

The house made brisket was good.   8   It was seasoned well and tender. I could have used a bit more of it. The eggs were undercooked and a bit waterlogged   5   The veggies were tasty and seasoned properly   8   Overall a good and tasty dish   8   

WHISK Chicago Brisket Hash

WHISK Chicago
Brisket Hash

WHISK Chicago Brisket Hash

WHISK Chicago
Brisket Hash

WHISK Chicago Brisket Hash

WHISK Chicago
Brisket Hash

BIG props WHISK. NO sneeze powder (pre ground black pepper) Instead it was replaced with a salt/pepper mill.   9

WHISK Chicago Pepper Mill

WHISK Chicago
Pepper Mill

 

NEXT

AZTEC OMELETTE
Egg omelette with corn, avocado, chihuahua cheese, bell peppers, jalapenos and onions served with house potatoes and your choice of toast

ADD Grits

The grits were good smooth creamy cheesy salty   8   

The Omelette was decent.    7   

 

WHISK Chicago Aztec Omelette

WHISK Chicago
Aztec Omelette

WHISK Chicago Aztec Omelette

WHISK Chicago
Aztec Omelette

WHISK Chicago Aztec Omelette

WHISK Chicago
Aztec Omelette

 

And Finally

REESE’S PANCAKES
Banana pancakes with Reese’s chocolate pieces covered with white chocolate sauce, fresh bananas and mocha mascarpone whipping cream

I expected not to like this. I was wrong. I was expecting this to be a Diabetes inducing sugar bomb I was wrong again. Yes it was sweet but not overly. It was chocolaty Peanut Buttery Bananaee and a touch Salty. A decadent    8

WHISK Chicago Reese's PB Pancakes

WHISK Chicago
Reese’s  Pancakes

WHISK Chicago Reese's Pancakes

WHISK Chicago
Reese’s Pancakes

WHISK Chicago Reese's Pancakes

WHISK Chicago
Reese’s Pancakes

WHISK Chicago Reese's Pancakes

WHISK Chicago
Reese’s Pancakes

 

This was a great outing. I had a talk with David the co owner, and his big brother Rick also stopped by to see if everything went well. A couple really nice young guys that are brave for going up against the burgeoning Chicago restaurant scene. Get over there and pay them a delecious visit. You’ll be glad that you did!

As for me I’m off to my next adventure

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