Sunday, December 12, 2010

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Maxfield's Pancake House, Schaumburg

Maxfield's Pancake House
700 East Schaumburg Road
Schaumburg, IL 60194

July 29, 2010



Maxfields02 Maxfields01

Monday, July 05, 2010

Baker Memorial Church, St. Charles

Baker Memorial Church
307 Cedar Ave.
St Charles, IL 60174


July 3, 2010

Very kind volunteers, delicious pancakes. I had seconds and probably could have had thirds, but had to leave for work. A five dollar cover charge gets you in the doors, don't miss out next year!


Saturday, June 19, 2010

Honey Jam Cafe, Downers Grove

Honey Jam Cafe
3000 Oak Grove Rd
Downers Grove, IL 60515

June 1, 8, and 15, 2010

Honey Jam Cafe

As if the battle for suburban Chicago breakfast supremacy wasn't already crowded enough, here comes a new challenger! Or so it would appear, but the seemingly out of nowhere arrival of Honey Jam Cafe is actually a product of longtime Chicago restaurant royalty. The owners of nearly 40 Brown's Chicken & Pasta and almost 50 Portillo's restaurants have thrown their hat into the breakfast business, and their first restaurant is an astonishing debut. Honey Jam Cafe is one of the most unique and inviting breakfast restaurants that we've been to to date, boasting a mouth-watering menu and an inviting ambiance the likes of which we've never seen before.

It's actually easy to pass by Honey Jam without noticing it, as it sits on a stretch of Butterfield Road that's already crowded with restaurants, inconspicuously set back from the road next to a block of office buildings. The building itself is perhaps too classy and easy to mistake for a steakhouse or a Greek restaurant. Inside, on the other hand, Honey Jam brings together old-fashioned and modern designs and decor to create a mellow but warm and welcoming environment. I'm not going to describe it in detail suffice to say that it's really one of the nicest restaurants I've ever been in.


On my first visit I ordered blueberry pancakes. I might have enjoyed a little extra whipped cream than the dollop that was provided, but altogether they were pretty good. Our cherry-smoked bacon was some of the best bacon I've ever tasted. On our second visit, I went all in and ordered a baked "dutch baby" pancake. I've only had baked pancakes on a few special occasions before, and those were filled with apples and far too big for a single person to have on their own. Likewise, the Honey Jam menu suggests that these are "suitable for two," although the pancake I received was just right for one, and even left me a little hungry once I was finished. Soft, chewy, really a delight to savor. It was served with a nice dusting of powdered sugar and a bowl of lemons on the side, which I liberally squeezed all over my dish. At least I think that's what they were for. Their cheese blintzes were good; nothing to write home about but if you know of any that are, please let me know!

HJDutchBaby HJCheeseBlintzes

Altogether I was really impressed by this restaurant, am looking forward to going back yet again, and excited about the prospect of a new location opening in Batavia later this year. If you're reading this blog and have enjoyed any of the restaurants we've been to since the beginning, make it worth your while to visit Honey Jam for your next pancake fix. If you're still not convinced, watch this video, which also showcases some of Honey Jam's non-breakfast offerings.


Ayinsan here. This really is a great restaurant. Not really much I can say about it that Joe hasn't already covered. There's a fireplace inside, which you can sort of see in the above photo (though the flames aren't really visible) which is probably nice and cozy on a winter's afternoon. Well, actually you'd probably have to be sitting really close in order to feel any warmth, but still. A fireplace! Not something you see in a breakfast restaurant often, but it always adds that extra touch of class. The servers are always extremely friendly and quick, too. Even on busy days, we aren't kept waiting for long. Everyone here really goes all out to make it a great experience for the diners.


On my first visit I had the bananas foster waffle. Probably my favorite of all the entrees I tried here. Then again, I've never had a bananas foster anything that I didn't like. Their whipped cream is very sweet and rich, even if there's not a lot of it. On my second visit I had the strawberry cheesecake french toast, shown below. Also very tasty.


On my third visit I tried the Crazy Monkey waffle, which comes with peanut butter sauce, bananas, and chocolate chips. Pretty good, but the chocolate chips sort of overwhelmed the flavor of the peanut butter and bananas so it felt like I was just eating a chocolate chip waffle. If I ever order this again, I might request more peanut butter and less chocolate. It's really hard to get that balance of flavors just right, but when you do, the result is so worth it.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Tangerine, Naperville

Tangerine Cafe
47 Chicago Avenue
Naperville, IL 60540

April 15, 2010


For as long as I can remember, I've enjoyed casually slandering Naperville as everything that's wrong with the Chicago suburbs, but truth be told I haven't taken much time to explore it or to see more of it than its most trackhoused and stripmalled side. Our visit to Tangerine brought us to the heart of downtown Naperville, which is a lot nicer than I remember it being, not to mention easy to get around. Tangerine is located next to a large parking garage, so parking was free and easy. Tangerine is easy to find, too. Just look for the Barnes & Noble on the corner and you'll spot a cheerful looking restaurant next door with lots of outdoor seating.


We chose to dine indoors on both of our visits, and when you see the inside of the restaurant yourself, you might choose to do the same. My only complaint was that it got a little noisy at times, but that's a petty criticism at best. I ordered the blueberry pancakes, listed on the menu as berry fresh pancakes. These were possibly the largest pancakes I've ever been served. It's been over a month since I tasted them but I remember enjoying them very much. If you like this sort of thing and have a big appetite, then this is definitely in your wheelhouse.


Ayinsan here. This is the cinnamon banana bun french toast: so sweet it doesn't even require syrup, and extremely tasty. I don't know what that creamy sauce they drizzle over it is, but I could drink it from a glass (okay, maybe not from a glass...but on french toast it's the bees knees.) I got this on my first visit here. Highly recommended.


When I came back a second time, I tried their Leaning Tower of Sweetness, stacks of french toast with fruit and Nutella spread in between slices. It was all right, though I didn't like it quite as much as my first meal. Maybe Nutella and french toast just aren't the best combination? Don't get me wrong, it was good, it just didn't dazzle me as much as I expected it to.

Overall, a really nice restaurant. My only complaint is the coffee. Both times when I came here, the coffee I ordered arrived lukewarm, and I had to send it back and ask for a fresh pot. And even fresh it's not that great. Granted, restaurant coffee is always kind of a gamble. After a pot has been sitting for more than ten minutes, the coffee tends to get a little gross, but I recognize that they can't just keep throwing out their old coffee every few minutes. Still, it should at least be hot when they serve it.

Update (2012): Tangerine is no more! The space is now occupied by Neo pizzeria.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

McDonald's, O'Hare International Airport

O Hare International Airport, Terminal 1
Chicago, IL 60666

March 4, 2010

McDonald's: O'Hare International Airport

McDonald's Pancakes

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sweet Maple Cafe, Chicago

Sweet Maple Cafe
1339 West Taylor Street
Chicago, IL 60607-4706

January 12, 2009


We don't get a chance to go into "the city" as much as we'd like, but we're always looking for new restaurants to try when we do. Our exhaustive research for this usually consists of the painstaking process of typing "pancakes," "breakfast" and "Chicago" into Google, which usually yields a list of the usual suspects, most of which we've already investigated. This time, thanks to a glitch in Google's algorithms or a newly found combination of keywords on our side, we found Sweet Maple Cafe. Located on the west side, it's in a neighborhood we've never been to before but it was definitely worth the trip.

Sweet Maple Cafe isn't a big restaurant by any means, probably about half the size of most pancake houses we've been to, with room for about 40 or 50 customers to sit at a time. There isn't much of a waiting area, and forget about sitting down while you're waiting to be called for your table. There was a bit of a wait during our early Tuesday afternoon visit, but once we were seated the service was just fine. The menu is available on Sweet Maple's website.


I ordered the blueberry pancakes. Nothing fancy here, no handfuls of blueberries heaped on top, not even any whipped cream. But if the pancakes are in lacking appetizing visuals, they more than make up for it in each mouth-watering bite. These were the perfect consistency, chewy and sweet, everything coming together just right. Just sublime. I felt like the snobby and bitter food critic in Ratatouille during the climactic scene. A life-changing breakfast.

Some of the paint on the walls is peeled off and the floor is somewhat unfinished. If this bothers you then go back to IHOP and never leave Naperville again. Also, there's ample free parking in the lot across the street. You might have to enter it down an alley on the west side but it's really quite convenient.

SweetMapleDrinks SweetMaplePancakes

Ayinsan here. When we arrived at Sweet Maple Cafe, there was a line extending almost out the door. In spite of this, we didn't have to wait very long. Maybe ten or fifteen minutes at the most.

While we were waiting for breakfast, I got a hot chocolate. Not my usual breakfast fare, but I was really hungry and needed something to take the edge off. Really good stuff. Smooth and creamy, sweet without being too sweet. For breakfast, I got a pancake meal.

The pancakes were some of the fluffiest and most delicious I've ever had. I once reluctantly awarded Cracker Barrel the honor of having my favorite pancakes (I say reluctantly because it's not even really a breakfast place, just a chain restaurant with a gift shop that hypnotizes me into buying things I don't need), but I'm pretty sure that Sweet Maple's pancakes are better than the Barrel's. And of course, they serve it with real maple syrup...but I expected that. I mean, if someone were to open a restaurant called Sweet Maple Cafe and NOT serve real maple syrup, well...I just wouldn't know what to say to them. I might just shake my head remorsefully.


Pancakes, eggs, sausage--all were above par. And the service was excellent. Enthusiastically recommended.