Monday, October 09, 2006

Downers Delight, Downers Grove

Downers Delight
401 75th St.
Downers Grove, IL 60516

October 7, 2006

Amanda here. Thought I'd take a stab at writing the main entry for a change.

This weekend we went to Downer's Delight, which is--as the name implies--in Downer's Grove. The name is something of a contradiction. "Downer" seems to imply that it will depress you, but "delight" promises a world of sensuous pleasures. The overall effect is one of bewildered uncertainty, hope mixed with dread. Will the restaurant be a downer or a delight? There's only one way to find out.


First impressions? A rather standard-looking family restaurant, with an assortment of cakes and pies in a glass case by the front counter. The atmosphere is pleasant, low-key. The menu offers a pretty decent range of choices, from standard pancakes and waffles to blintzes and crepes in a variety of flavors. Joe got the potato pancakes. I ended up ordering the banana blitzes, which I didn't plan. Usually, I survey the menu for a few minutes, considering various entrees and carefully weighing the pros and cons before I inevitably just go with a standard pancake platter. You can't possibly go wrong with that. But when the waitress approached our table, I wasn't ready, so I sort of froze up and then just randomly picked something because I didn't want to miss my window of opportunity (it was a Saturday, so it was pretty busy). Now, blintzes are really kind of an iffy thing, not an old, reliable favorite like pancakes. For a moment, I thought I might have made a disastrous mistake. But as it turned out, the blintzes were quite tasty: Tender, chewy shells wrapped around a filling like sweet cottage cheese, and loaded with bananas. I'll probably get them again the next time I go there.


Furthermore, they were BIG. I almost couldn't finish, and for me, that's saying something.

I sampled Joe's potato pancakes as well. They were decent, not spectacular, but serviceable, and they came with a side of sour cream and apple sauce.



The prices were pretty reasonable, about what you'd expect from a restaurant of this type.

In conclusion? Downer's Delight lives up to the second part of its name. If you want to be trendy and clever you can refer to the restaurant as "Double D." On second thought, don't. People will just look at you funny and ask what you're talking about and you'll wish you hadn't said anything.

The first thing you'll notice as you walk into Dowers Delight is the small fountain right next to the front door. It lies low, recessed down into the ground, not raised upwards like most fountains. And it's full of change, not just pennies, but quarters! I'm not saying that you'll really need an extra pocketful of change just to have a plate of pancakes there, but it certainly wouldn't hurt, and it's all just an arm's length away for any brave soul willing to roll up their sleeves for it. We spent our spare change on a Care Bears capsule toy. I'm not really a betting man but I went ahead and placed a guess on which one we'd get. Amanda turned the crank and out it came! Go ahead and try to guess which one it was.

We were seated in the same booth as we were when we came by for breakfast a few months ago. It's the one right next to the entrance to the patio, but fortunately there were no customers dining outside, bringing an end to the once-constant flow of servers in and out of the doors. It wasn't the foot traffic that I minded back then so much as the repetitive yet upredictable slamming sound of the door right behind me. Google "Chinese water torture" and you'll see what I'm getting at.

I had a good view of the large plasma screen television hanging on the wall, which was tuned to CNN and covering North Korea's imminent nuclear test. But then my potato pancakes arrived, and they turned out to be so thick, tender, and moist that I forgot all my cares and fears of global thermonuclear war and just dug in. I don't normally order this sort of thing but I was in the mood for something different today. The applesauce and sour cream didn't last long so I switched to ketchup and Tabasco. It was filling, but nothing to write home about.

Even though I've enjoyed my food on both trips to Downers Delight, I'm having a hard time trying to figure out why I should ever go back. Their selection is fairly average. Their prices aren't exactly unreasonable but I definitely wouldn't call them a bargain, either. There's a strange, ineffible quality to the box-shaped building itself and the well-manicured lawn surrounding it that repulses me. Maybe this feeling started to take root the first time that I tried to process the restaurant's seemingly incomprehensible name in my mind. Naturally, I guess it was inevitable that I'd end up with such mixed feelings about Downers Delight.


John said...

The Downers in Downers Grove comes, of course, from the founder of the town, Pierce Downer. The lack of an apostrophe (Apostrophe-free since 1873) is somewhat of a mystery.

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