Thursday, May 17, 2007

Manor Restaurant & Pancake House, East Dundee

Manor Restaurant & Pancake House
425 E. Main St. (Rt.72)
East Dundee, IL 60118

May 17, 2007


If you've been to one Original Pancake House, one Golden Nugget, or one IHOP, and you enjoyed your visit, odds are you'd probably enjoy another day out at one of their other locations. We agree with this, but that doesn't mean we'd want to write about it all over again. Yes, over the past few months we've been to a few pancake houses that didn't get mentioned here, but only because we'd already written about one of their sister locations. I don't really know how interesting it would be to write about Colonial five or six different times, or if there's really any reason to bother comparing one Lumes location to another. We'd much rather move on and keep exploring, really. Maybe real food critics have the patience and the highly honed taste threshholds for that stuff, but not us.

We already visited the Manor location in St. Charles late last year, but unfortunately, we were a few months too late and arrived at a vacant and locked building. Under these circumstances, I think we could excuse ourselves from our self-imposed limitations considering that there were still other Manor locations out there waiting for us to try. I couldn't remember exactly where the one in Elgin was (apparently it's at 555 N. McLean, though I honestly have no idea if it's still open or not), so we headed up to East Dundee instead. Fortunately, the Manor is still alive and well in East Dundee, which is great news for the town, still searching for its soul ever since Santa's Village closed up for good two years ago.

ManorDiningRoom3 ManorDiningRoom2 ManorDiningRoom1 ManorChairs

The Manor Restaurant & Pancake House sits at the corner of routes 72 & 68. Maybe not at the true corner, as that's occupied by a gas station that unfortunately obscures most of the building from the road. This isn't really a bad thing, as the restaurant is kind of settled in behind it and nestled in by a lot of trees, which shade the building and keep the screaming sunshine outside where it belongs. I don't necessarily like dark restaurants, but when I'm inside I like being able to forget about what time it is if I want to, and the low-key ambiance at The Manor is perfect for that. Low lighting, mirrored walls, and lots of glass partitions divide the room up into a dimly-lit maze of indeterminate depth, at least from the confines of our booth. Up front, there's a nice case of cakes and pies at the counter, some torn vinyl chairs (note the classic slash in the seat on the right), and some nice wooden carvings of bald eagles that could be yours for about $1,200 each.


My usual at the Manor was always Italian beef for dinner or lunch, and blitzes for breakfast. But I remembered having the assorted fruit pancake and enjoying it, and I've often wondered why more restaurants don't offer anything like it. Strawberries, bananas, peaches... all together on one plate. Yeah, there's a pancake in there too, a thick one, actually, but it's folded in half with fruit inside and whipped cream on top. This is so good, words can't do it justice. If you like fruit pancakes then this is your dream breakfast. Well, for me it was a dream mid-afternoon lunch, one that I'd been looking forward to all day, having skipped breakfast. Still, I almost couldn't clean my plate. It was only after three cups of coffee that I finally finished picking at it. I regret nothing.

Our bill came to an even $16.00 after tax. Not bad for two orders with coffees. Afterwards we wandered outside into a garden in the parking lot. There are some steps leading up to it from the parking lot, so I assume that it's owned and maintained by the Manor. Most suburban restaurants take their non-paved extra land for granted, so it's nice to see someone trying to bring a little beauty to the community for a change.

In appreciation of the Manor's wonderful aesthetic taste, I thought I'd try to give their sign the Matt Siber treatment. Using MS Paint, this was the best I could do.


Ayinsan here. I had high expectations coming to the Manor--I mean, with a name like "Manor restaurant," you expect something classy. It did not disappoint. The interior was clean and comfortable, and the pancakes are, quite simply, among the best I've ever tasted. I kind of wish I hadn't accepted the offer for whipped cream on mine, since all that gooey sweetness almost overwhelmed the taste. As you can see below, they certainly weren't stingy with it.


My one complaint about the Manor is that the coffee tasted really strange to me. I can't explain it. It didn't taste old or stale or anything, just odd. I actually tasted the contents of the sugar dispenser to see if maybe I'd accidentally put salt in my coffee, but no, it was sugar. Joe liked it fine, so maybe it was just me.


Apparently the head chef at the Manor is a bear who has overcome the limitations of his species and gained respectable employment in the human world. Either that or a bear devoured the head chef and stole his hat, and is now posing innocently with a tray of food, perhaps to lure more victims into his clutches.

"Mr. Chef, what big claws you have!"

"All the better to serve you this delicious burger with, my dear."


I don't know what this statue is supposed to be, really. It's either a symbol of human unity or a genetic experiment gone terribly wrong. But you have to admit it's an original thing to put outside a pancake house. The landscaping was gorgeous as well.

Monday, May 07, 2007

The Blueberry Hill Pancake House, Darien

Blueberry Hill Pancake House
7340 S. Route 83
Darien, Illinois 60559

April 23, 2007


The Blueberry Hill Pancake House is easy to miss, lodged in a tiny stripmall. I was a little disappointed to see this. Stand-alone restaurants, to me, just seem classier. This may not be a fair or accurate judgment, but when you see a restaurant sitting next to some grimy little dollar store or a dry cleaners, it kind of kills that cozy, homespun mystique that pancake houses are supposed to have. Once you enter the restaurant, however, it's like entering a portal into another dimension. A dimension not only of sight and sound, but of taste.


As you might expect, the Blueberry Hill Pancake House is very blue on the inside. The menu offers a good array of choices, from the mundane to the unusual. I got blueberry banana pancakes. Going to the Blueberry Hill Pancake House (man, I'm already starting to get tired of typing that out) and not getting an item with blueberries in it is sort of like going to Pizza Hut for the salad bar. Or going to Red Lobster and ordering a hamburger. You can do it, but if it's your first visit you want to taste what the restaurant is famous for.

BlueberryBananaPancakes BakedBlueberryFT

The pancakes were quite tasty, and there was plenty of them. I had to bring home leftovers. Joe got the blueberry french toast, one of the specials. I tasted it, and it was quite moist and dense, almost more like bread pudding than french toast. It came with a sweet cream cheese sauce which reminds me a little of that frosting that comes with the cinnamon french toast at Mother's. Sometimes, the line between breakfast and dessert is a thin and blurry one.

The prices were pretty reasonable.


Joe here. I enjoyed our trip to Blueberry Hill, but hey, I love blueberries. You can get them on almost anything here, and the prices are pretty good, too. Well, they would have been even better if we had remembered to print out the coupon on their website. I'd definitely recommend it and I know that we'll be going back for more again soon. Afternoon stragglers beware: all locations close at 3:00 pm every day. Maybe that's normal? I probably just need to start getting up earlier.