1158 Douglas Rd
Oswego, IL 60543
September 9, 2008
Do you find the stylish and postmodern motifs of today's pancake houses a little too cold and impersonal? Do you ever wish you could go back to a simpler time, when men and women would start their day with a hearty breakfast before working in the fields? When giant chickens, taller than a fence, roamed our farms and laid a half-dozen eggs a day? When Weiner-mobiles towed covered wagons full of fresh vegetables down to the farmer's market at Venice Beach? If so, Southern Belle's might be the restaurant for you.
It may not have a fireplace or a porch full of rocking chairs like Cracker Barrel, but Southern Belle's adds their own touches to evoke the charm its namesake implies. If the waitresses working during our visit were any indication, all the servers wear overalls as part of their uniform. Whether this is done to enhance the restaurant's working class ethic, or to evoke pleasant nostalgia of the Depression-era Dust Bowl, I'm not sure. I couldn't find the men's or the women's restrooms, just ones meant for "dudes" and "belles," so if you fall in either one of those categories, you're in luck.
You'll find a good selection of pancakes on their menu. I ordered the strawberry pancakes, which looked like an ordinarily-sized serving but proved extremely filling. I couldn't even clean my plate! Not sure how I felt about the strawberry topping they generously applied, though. I'd have been just fine with plain strawberries and nothing more.
Halfway through our meal I finally gave in and ordered some coffee. This was getting close to 1:00 in the afternoon, long past the breakfast hours and any kind of lunchtime rush they may have had. In fact, there were only two or three other tables with customers at the time, besides the two of us. I know this situation really isn't condusive to a busy and fresh coffeepot, so I'm not going to hold it against them or anything. That said, my coffee wasn't very good. Bitter, maybe a little burned? I should have trusted my instincts before ordering any. Aside from our recent trip to Mapleberry, lately I haven't been able to find a good cup of coffee almost anywhere.
Ayinsan here. Southern Belle's won fifth place in "best breakfast overall" in a newspaper-run contest and first place for "best new breakfast," but the sign in the window simply says, "Thank you for voting us best restaurant." Kind of misleading, but nonetheless, Southern Belle's is worth visiting.
Probably the first thing you'll notice upon entering is the decor. Lots of objects hanging from the ceiling, including a Radio Flyer wagon, an Oscar-Meyer Weiner-mobile, and a giant box of Frosted Flakes. Why these particular items? One can only wonder.
I got the banana crepes, which are always a bit of a gamble. Sometimes they're great, sometimes there's just not much to them, depending on where you go. I asked the waitress what else was in the crepes, aside from bananas. She went in the kitchen to inquire and told me they were filled with a "sweet mixture." That didn't clarify it much, but I went ahead and ordered the crepes. They were pretty good, though if there really was a "sweet mixture" inside them, I couldn't detect it. It seemed to be just bananas...but despite that, they were quite filling. The bananas were fresh (not overripe or yucky and bruised) and the crepe shells were chewy and sweet.