Fox Restaurant & Pancake House
2290 Ogden Avenue
Aurora, IL 60504
November 22, 2006
We've driven past the Fox Restaurant & Pancake House more times than we can count, usually around the same time in the late afternoon, and the sight of the sun setting behind it is always kind of stunning. I realize that's casting an aura around it that it can't possibly live up to, and that constantly finding a sense of majesty in ordinary things like this is only serving to deprive me of experiencing real wonders -- the Rocky Mountains, the Grand Canyon, etc. -- that I owe it to myself to one day see in person. But that will have to wait.
Inside, the Fox Restaurant does what it can to live up to its name. That doesn't mean serving up fresh fox meat (though carnivores will find something called "broasted chicken" on the menu), but decorating the walls with a very foxy motif. You'll find plenty of fox pictures and fox statues along the walls, and even some real, stuffed foxes near the kitchen above the bar. There's even one in the cover of the menu! Obviously, vulpephobes will have to face (and hopefully conquer) their fears if they hope to make it through an entire meal here. The foxes are countered with lots of Chicago sports memorabilia, but only enough to bring back a few fond memories of the 80's Bears and 90's Bulls. Thankfully, it's not enough to turn the room into a tacky sports bar.
I've seen Palestine crepes listed on a few different menus before this but could never tell just what they were, and I've never felt bold enough to find out for myself until now. In a nutshell (well, in a crepe), they're crepes packed with more sour cream than the body should be able to safely digest. I can only guess that my yogurt-saturated childhood gave me some kind of extra tolerance for lactose, because I passed them just fine, but they were really filling. The crepes themselves were perfect: light, sweet, and with an almost rubber-like texture that stretches out just a little before tearing when you pull on them.
We arrived shortly after 2:00 in the afternoon, and for at least 20 or 30 minutes we were the only customers in the restaurant aside from a few other employees that seemed to be on their lunch break. After paying our check, we headed out to the Phillips Park Zoo, which was only a five minute drive away, and just as mysteriously under-attended as the Fox Restaurant. Granted, it was a weekday afternoon, which aren't considered "busy hours" for leisure-based establishments such as these, but Phillips Park is free, and what else is there to do in Aurora? Come watch the otters play and swim, or get a very up-close look at the cougars (at least when they're in the mood to lounge about on the platform next to the observation window, that is). The wolves are usually pretty active in their pen, though I can't say the same for their cousins in the fox exhibit, which are so sedentary that they could fit right in with the decor at the Fox Restaurant. Maybe they're nocturnal?
Amanda here. This time I finally broke away from my tradition of ordering blintzes everywhere I went and got the blueberry pancakes. They were okay, but honestly? Too many blueberries. I never thought I would say that about blueberry pancakes, since usually restaurants tend to be stingy with them, but if there seems to be more blueberry than pancake, it's too much. Also, some of the stems were still attached and they got stuck in my teeth. The first few bites were good, but after that I started to feel like I was wading through an endless swamp of blueberries and soggy, blueberry-juice-soaked batter. Maybe I should have ordered the blintzes. Or the Palestine crepes. I sampled some of Joe's, and they were pretty good. I have to wonder about the name, though. Why Palestine crepes? Are they from Palestine? Were the Palestinians the first guys who thought of putting sour cream in a shell and calling it a crepe? Or is it just one of those things, like french fries (pardon me, I mean freedom fries) that really has nothing to do with its nominal nationality?
I rather liked the stuffed foxes. I mean, I'm sure the foxes are not crazy about the situation, but their sacrifice will be appreciated by countless restaurant goers. Really, it's an honor. I can only hope that when the foxes evolve into intelligent beings with opposable thumbs and take over the world, they will display my remains in "Human Restaurant."