Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Eggman's Restaurant & Omelette House, Romeoville

Eggman's Restaurant & Omelette House
345 Independence Blvd
Romeoville, IL 60446

March 3, 2007


I used to pass this restaurant all the time on my way to Lewis University, where I took some classes a few years back. I only went into Eggman's once or twice, and I remember it being kind of scuzzy and dimly lit, with that air of quiet desperation and hopelessness that indicates a restaurant will soon be going out of business. Either my memories are inaccurate or they did some serious remodeling, because the place seemed much nicer this time around. Like Mother's, the decor had kind of a "rooster" theme going on.


I ordered a waffle combo with strawberries and whipped cream. Most restaurants will just kind of plop some whipped cream and fruit on top when you order these extras, but at Eggman's, they were artfully arranged. The waffle was good. I was not, however, a big fan of the strawberry gel (I don't know what else to call it) that they drizzled over the top. It didn't ruin the experience or anything, it just really didn't seem like something that belonged on a waffle. Strawberry syrup? Oh yeah. But strawberry gel? That's something altogether different.


With the waffle combo I also got a scrambled egg, a piece of bacon and a sausage, all good, but pretty ordinary. It's hard to screw up that kind of thing, but it's also hard to go above and beyond the norm. I mean, an egg is an egg, there's not a lot you can do to make it eggstraordinary. Unless you put lots of stuff in it, but then it ceases to become a simple egg and becomes an omelet.

Joe here. This was my first trip to Eggman's Restaurant & Omelette House. It's not much to look at outside but it's a pretty cozy and clean restaurant once you come in (as seen here in a regretfully blurry photo of the dining room). Obviously, they serve omelettes (as seen here in a regretfully incomplete snapshot of the menu), and as expected, a lot of other breakfast items too. There was a lot of Greek food on the menu too, if you like that sort of thing.


I had the basic pancake platter: 5 golden brown pancakes and nothing more. These were done very well (not to be confused with well-done), hot and fresh, like they were made on the spot just for me. What I mean is, they weren't probably weren't poured and flipped by some underpaid kid with an hourly quota to meet, as they likely are (and likely have to be) elsewhere. Or maybe they were. Yes, I have worked in food service, but never in a kitchen so what do I know.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Colonial Cafe, St. Charles

Colonial Cafe
2036 W. Lincoln Hwy (Rt. 38)
St. Charles, IL 60174

February 24, 2007


The website for the Colonial Cafe lists seven different locations across the Chicago suburbs. I'm kind of surprised that there aren't actually more than that, since it seems like there's always been one near me no matter where I've lived. I've been to four of them over the years and have never had any bad experiences with food or service. Then again, I've never visited Colonial on clown night. Nothing personal against clowns, really. I'm sure they're really good people and I'm sure that the discrimination and dangers of the life they've chosen have to be a constant source of pain in their life. I just don't want them at my table when I'm eating. That's all.

Colonial originally began as a dairy company, probably just delivering milk to people's homes. I feel like I should know the entire history of the company by now; every restaurant has at least one wall that's completely covered with old-time photos of their founders and nostalgic snapshots of old milktrucks and other images of the good old days. Yes, the history of Colonial goes back over a century; don't even try to forget this, every location is practically a museum inside so completely avoiding their corporate mythology is almost impossible. That said, with their devotion to staying true to their roots, I can't understand why they chose to close down their original ice cream shop in downtown St. Charles. That was a landmark, but apparently a few pictures on a wall (not to mention a few thousand bumper stickers on cars, too) are an acceptable substitute for the real thing.

But that's all in the past now. Colonial is still running the ice cream game in northern Illinois (is it just me or is Oberweis incredibly overrated?) but has also reinvented itself as an up-and-coming player in family restaurants as well. There's always a good choice of lunch and dinner specials, salads, sandwiches, and other standard fare that I won't go into right now. Colonial is always a really relaxed and casual place, but somehow it doesn't draw the kind of awful, awful customers that IHOP or Denny's does every night. At least not in my experience.


Anyway, breakfast at Colonial is a reliable but predictable experience. I usually spring for the blueberry pancakes, but today I chose the regular hot cakes combo. Actually, we both did, though I went with eggs over easy on the side. The pancakes themselves... I don't know. Nothing much to say. Some butter and hot syrup on top... yeah. Good stuff, but not great.


The western St. Charles Colonial location isn't the closest one to me, but it's the one that I've visited the most and especially enjoy returning to. Mornings and evenings are usually fairly busy, with afternoons being unusually quiet, even on weekends. Nowadays, I guess that could be said about the entire western edge of the city. But it wasn't always like this. The St. Charles Mall, once located in the empty field just across the parking lot (back when this location was once a Wag's and later a Shoney's), was the place to shop in St. Charles throughout the 1980's. It was closed over a decade ago and finally torn down five years ago. For a while there was talk of a new mall being built in its place, and then some kind of car dealership instead. As you can see, those ideas either fell through or were just rumors in the first place. The land has become a kind of suburban Chernobyl, seemingly abandoned for good and permanently tainted beyond any hope of future development. Look across the ground there and you'll still find pieces of old concrete from the original outer walls. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Thanks for the memories.

Think Colonial might want to hang some of these on their wall? Just wondering.

Aurora Pancake House, Aurora

Aurora Pancake House
321 North Lake St.
Aurora, IL 60506

February 22, 2007


We'd been to the Aurora Pancake House once before this visit. I got blueberry pancakes last time, which I remember as being thoroughly mediocre.

My experiences on our most recent visit were more positive. This time I opted for the banana crepes. Stuffed with sour cream and bananas and covered with some sort of apricot glaze, they were quite satisfying. Lately I've been having more luck with crepes and blintzes than I have with traditional pancake meals.


The Aurora Pancake House has a fairly standard "family restaurant" feel to it, kind of cozy and understated. Our waitress was friendly, though she seemed strangely astonished by the fact that we had brought our digital camera into the restaurant with us ("Is that a CAMERA?") During most of our meal we could hear her having a loud political discussion with some other people in the corner of the restaurant, and she kept mentioning Barack Obama, but she slurred his name so it sounded like "Aquabama," making me wonder if Barack has some sort of superhero identity which enables him to breathe underwater and communicate with dolphins.

As you can see on the sign, the Aurora Pancake House invites you to "Try our new menu." They say it like it's an if the waitress is going to ask you, "Would you like to try our new menu today?" They also include a phone number, which is helpful but kind of strange to see right there on the sign. It makes me wonder if the restaurant is just really lonely and looking for someone to talk to.

newmanagement2 newmanagement1

Joe here. Our second trip to the Aurora Pancake House in a few months was a bit better than the first time around. The service back then? Pretty bad... no other words for it, really. The restaurant wasn't very busy at all, but we were more or less ignored the whole time. I never expect the white glove treatment when I go out, and I know it's not fair to judge a restaurant based on just one visit, but that left a lasting impression that was hard to forget. I was skeptical in coming back, even when I saw the signs on the windows announcing NEW MANAGEMENT. Did the new boss bring in sweeping changes? I have no idea, but the service was much better this time.


I ordered the Swedish pancake, which comes crispier than most and with a generous portion of lingonberries to be spread however you like. Some restaurants also offer lingonberry butter with their Swedish pancakes; The Aurora Pancake House doesn't, but I guess that's probably for the best. I'm sure it's not the healthiest stuff to put in your body.

Unfortunately I forgot to take note of the prices at the Aurora Pancake House. I don't remember them being unreasonable, or too much to discourage anyone from giving the APH a try.