Friday, November 30, 2007

Spring View Family Restaurant, St. Charles

Spring View Family Restaurant
1650 W Main St
St. Charles, IL 60174

November 25, 2007


I didn't know what to expect from Spring View. We've driven past it before, but I never really noticed it, so this visit was a pleasant surprise. The interior is pretty nice, clean, cozy and well-lit. As you can see, there's kind of a mauve color scheme going on with the chairs and ceiling fixtures...or is that lavender? Something like that. There's lots of plants too. If you happen to be a Viking lord or a rough-edged biker covered with tattoos of knives and snarling tigers, the decor may not be to your tastes, but otherwise it's pretty nice. I also enjoyed the bobble-head dogs near the front entrance. Yes, I'm easily amused.

SpringViewInside2 SpringViewInside1
SpringViewInside3 SpringViewInside4

I got a waffle with whipped cream and strawberries. The menu claims these are "frozen fresh strawberries," which seems like a contradiction to me. I mean, I understand fresh fruit to be fruit that has not been frozen. These strawberries seemed like frozen ones, which I actually prefer, at least on waffles (they're juicier, and their juice soaks into the waffles and makes them ooey gooey good). Maybe the menu writers worried that if they just put "frozen strawberries," people would expect it to show up topped with strawberries frozen in ice-cubes.


In any case, the waffle was good...and surprisingly cheap. There are places where you'd have to pay $7.50 for a waffle with whipped cream and strawberries. This was $5.50, and it tasted great and filled me up.

Ah yes, and how could I forget the koi pond? This is the only pancake restaurant I've been to with a koi pond. And there are lots of those fish in there, all different colors, some nearly a foot long. Surprisingly, they were still pretty active despite the cold weather. The promise of koi was what lured me to this restaurant in the first place. Apparently the pond attracts visitors of the non-human variety as well. Once (according to a waitress) a hawk swooped down and grabbed the biggest koi out of the pond with its talons, and raccoons have been spotted sneaking about as well. I don't know if these fish have any kind of self-awareness, but I imagine their lives are similar to that of the Eloi in that H.G. Wells story. Most of the time it's pretty easy--they just float around and eat--but every so often one of them is snatched and carried to an early and gruesome death. Alas, poor koi.

Joe here. I'm not sure if I've ever been to the Spring View restaurant before this past week. We've been driving past it for years, but always on our way to Colonial, Baker's Square, or the the late, great Manor in downtown St. Charles. It never looked like much from the outside, and being surrounded by guardrails and brick walls, it always seemed like more of a fortress than a restaurant. The sign's been missing those letters for a few months now, too. All this never did much to draw me inside, but last week I finally faced my fears and gave it a chance.

Spring View doesn't bill itself as a pancake house, at least not on their sign outside. But pancake-phobes seeking refuge from those soft, steamy platters of their nightmares will be in for a horrifying surprise when they receive their menu. Their breakfast menu is on the back, and what they lack is selection is made up for by some pretty good prices. My blueberry pancakes weren't even $5.00!


My only real complaint? Our food arrived extremely quick, but felt like it had already been sitting out for minutes. The pancakes were good, but would have been better if they'd only been a little hotter. Nothing to write home about, but worth trying again, especially if you're on a budget.


Don't fall for his dirty tricks.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Higgley's Restaurant, Arlington Heights

Higgley's Restaurant
2240 S. Arlington Heights Road
Arlington Heights, IL 60005

November 17, 2007

HiggleysFront HiggleysBack

I used to live about a half mile down the road from Higgley's. I probably dined there on fewer than a half-dozen occasions, but I loved the place. Really, I did. Great comfort food, and it was cheap! Higgley's was usually close to empty in the late afternoon, well after the midday lunch rush but before the early dinner customers would begin to show up. That's when I would usually wander in, awaiting free rolls and the sense of reassurance that comes from being the youngest person in the room. Usually, I'd order a soup and sandwich, but I liked their pancakes too, and was looking forward to trying them again, for the first time in over a year. Higgley's wasn't exclusively a breakfast restaurant, but breakfast was always on the menu, and the atmosphere felt like a pancake house, or at least a family restaurant. Though unfortunately, I never saw any actual families at any of the tables. They were probably at the Denny's across the street on Algonquin Road, or in the IHOP a half mile to the north on Golf Road. Their loss.

So maybe I should have seen it coming, but I was still shocked and saddened when we pulled into the Higgley's parking lot, found it to be distressingly empty, and then saw the neon green posterboard taped to the front door.


So what's the story? "CLOSED DUE TO NON-RENEWAL OF LEASE" doesn't really explain why Higgley's closed. As a restaurant that had been open and operating successfully for years (more than ten, at least twenty, I'm assuming), surely the owners of the business itself would also own the actual property that it was housed in. Right? Or so it would seem. So did Higgley's bow out on their own free will, or did CVS put up an offer that the landowners couldn't refuse?

I could have sworn that Higgley's was open during the past few times that I've driven past it. Should have stopped in while I had the chance, but apparently that chance passed by a long time ago. This blog hosts the only complete news story on the matter that's still online, and the article is more than a year old. So strange to see the same sign still taped to the window today. The latest rumor is that a new BP Station could be moving in, demolishing Higgley's as well as, wait for it... the old BP station next door! This new station would be complete with an AMPM store. If you haven't been inside one, it's a laughable "store-within-a-store" that sells ordinary gas station food and soft drinks in appallingly giant cups. Sometimes those also have a Wild Bean Cafe inside. If you loved the authentic, retro-'50s experience of Wal-Mart's Radio Grill, you'll love the friendly baristas, comfy armchairs, and the Friday night poetry slams at the Wild Bean Cafe.

Ayinsan here. I've only been to Higgley's once. This was back when Joe lived in Arlington Heights and the two of us went there. I had their pancakes, which were decent. The only detail I remember clearly is that their syrup came in little packages rather than the traditional container with a pour-spout and handle, but I, too, was sad to see this little restaurant close down, especially since it might be replaced with yet another CVS. Honestly, how many of those do we need?