Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Olde North Pancake House, West Chicago

Olde North Pancake House
27W751 North Avenue (Rte 64)
West Chicago, IL 60185

July 31 & August 2, 2007


Less than two miles east of the Cascade Drive-In theater, the Olde North Pancake Pancake House stands on a relatively unoccupied stretch of Route 64. It's one of the last places you'd expect to find a pancake house, though in another five years, it might just be surrounded by Starbucks and bathroom tile stores like most of the other restaurants we've been to. Open space serviced by a major road like this doesn't stay unoccupied for very long anymore. It's probably only a matter of time before Lowes and Home Depot set up shop across the street from each other, Wal Mart buys up the busiest street corner they can, and mattress stores suddenly start springing up.

Hopefully this oncoming sprawl won't swallow up the Olde North Pancake House anytime soon. Olde North offers a good variety of pancakes and other breakfast entrees, and lots of lunch specials too. It was only open until 2:00 on the days that we visited, but apparently stay open later for dinner on Fridays.

There's a good selection of pancakes at Olde North, though my initial order of coconut pancakes wasn't the best choice I could have made. Shredded coconuts on top, and also baked into the cakes. I love coconut, but after finishing half of my order, I was longing for some good old fashioned plain hotcakes, or at least the cornmeal pancakes that I'd decided not to order at the last moment. On our next visit, I ordered my unoffical favorite: Swedish pancakes. They arrive at your table wrapped up like crepes, with lingonberries packed inside and drizzled on top, crispy on the edges and chewy in the center. These didn't disappoint at all, and were some of the best Swedish pancakes I've ever had.



Both of our visits were around 1:00 on weekday afternoons, hardly the busiest time for business for any breakfast restaurant, but each time there were still small groups of people coming in after us. That's a good thing. Like the Cascade Drive-In just down the road, it's easy to get the feeling that the days of the Olde North (or rather, places like it, in general) are numbered. Or maybe they're making more money every week than they know how to spend? I don't know. Hopefully people are also buying the decorations that hang on the walls. Most are for sale and have tiny price tags hanging from them. I don't like folk art at all but I support folk artists. I mean, I support their intentions, but not necessarily with my wallet. Yeah, I'm sure they really appreciate that.

OldeNorthInside1 OldeNorthFireplace
OldeNorthInside2 OldeNorthInside3

Ayinsan here. As you can see, the interior has a cozy, rustic feel. Well, aside from that tower of individually packaged sugar cereals on the front counter, which are neither cozy nor rustic, but probably very tasty nonetheless. We got a booth near the back of the restaurant, next to a window, and there was a bird-feeder just outside. While we waited for our food, we watched hordes of sparrows (I think that's what they were...I can recognize robins and cardinals and pidgeons, but aside from that I am woefully ignorant of the birds inhabiting our fair state) crowding around to peck up seeds.

OldeNorthStuffedFT OldeNorthEggs&Sausage

For our first visit I ordered the stuffed french toast, which was just plain delicious. Sweet cream-cheese filling between two half-slices of french toast, smothered with strawberry sauce and topped with dollops of whipped cream. For our second visit I got a combo which I believe was called the country breakfast. Hot cakes, scrambled eggs and sausage patties...can't go wrong with that. The sausage was especially good. Eggs? Eh, there was nothing wrong with them, but they weren't exciting. Finding really good scrambled eggs seems to be a tough task. I guess there's only so much you can do with them, but restaurant scrambled eggs all have the same dry, spongy consistency--filling, yet devoid of soul and character. I've taken to livening them up with a few drops of Tobasco sauce.


The Olde North Pancake House is right across from a mini golf course called Coyote Crossing. Their inflatable, grinning mascot proved a valuable advertising tool. After lunch, we crossed a busy street just so we could take a closer look, and a photo, and the next time we visited Olde North we ended up playing a game.



Bob Sayeti said...

I'm a regular at Old North. I agree with your review but would like to add a couple things.

I recommend their sourdough toast.

Their skillets are very good.

It’s good to know in advance that they only take cash or check.

Michelle1972 said...

My friends and I tried to be polite and tell the manger/owner not sure which that my friends and I had decided not to stay and eat. The man told us to just "get the hell out" and exclaimed "FUCK" while walking away. Needless to say I will never tell anyone to eat there.

Andrew Violette said...

Tried it out based on your review. I found my pancakes to be doughy and not very tasty. The menu at the bottom displayed a "We proudly serve Hormel pancake syrup' Yumm! Big Corp corn-syrup based breakfast syrup.

The prices were on par with Nosh (or even Egg Harbor) in Geneva. And, I have yet to have (in illinois) pancakes as good as the Violet Pancakes at Nosh.

The coffee: blah!

i don't really recommend this place at all.

So far my favorite places to eat pancakes in these parts: Nosh (in Geneva), Egg Harbor (have tried both Arlington Heights and Geneva and both are good), Bennedicts (East Dundee), and Lou Mitchell's (Chicago).

David J Dachtera said...

Used to live in Carol Stream. We were Sunday breakfast regulars for a while back then. Olde North's has browns became the standard by which I measure other family-style restaurants and their breakfast offerings. Yeah - hard to make good scrambled eggs, can't do it myself, either.

Rustic, homey feel. Always good to get seated by the (gas) fireplace on a cold Sunday morning.

Would recommend they switch to Dunkin' Donuts coffee.

Would love to build a copy of it here in the Shorewood / Plainfield area. We have a serious dearth of family-style sit-downs here on Rt 59 between Plainfield and Shorewood. Had a good one - Evangeline's just south of downtown Plainfield, but the Village seems to have some issue with them - they've been closed for months.

Been to Olde North for Friday dinner, also. Had some good steak!

Ryan said...

Food was mostly good, but the owner is a DICK.

Johnson4 said...

This is a great 'stop in' place that is NOT a chain. Have thoroughly enjoyed every meal served to us there. Cannot go wrong with the Swedish pancakes.

Servers have always been more than polite to us - and you get what you give, so to those who give a bad review...well, maybe it was not the server or owners who are at fault. KWIM?