Illinois Pancakes

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Pancake Cafe, Naperville

Pancake Cafe
1292 Rickert Dr # 168
Naperville, IL 60540

 August 6, 2012

Tucked away in an unassuming Naperville strip mall, Pancake Cafe might just be the most quintessential pancake house we've come across to date. Mirrored walls, aged wooden booths, stained glass lighting and brass fixtures, this place has it all. I don't want to call it a dive, but the dark ambiance and unassuming design give it a soul-sucking charm, if you're into that sort of thing. Step in here and you could be inside any one of thousands of different restaurants just like it, so familiar and comfortable it feels that you'll be right at home, even if it's your first time inside. The menu is kinda boring, but I wasn't let down by my three berry crepes. Kinda hard to mess something like that up, I guess. Service was just fine, nothing to write home about but perfectly adequate. Unless you've been raised exclusively on Richard Walker's or Honey Jam, you won't walk out disappointed in your dining experience.

As for me, I got the cinnamon roll pancakes.  Maybe I've been spoiled by the cinnamon roll French toast at Mother's, which is drenched in icing and comes with a side of cinnamon sugar butter (mmm) but I found these pancakes to be...lacking.  Not that they were bad, mind you.  They tasted fine.  But they were basically regular pancakes dusted with some cinnamon sugar, with a little squirt of icing on top.  There wasn't much cinnamon-roll-ness about them, none of the over-the-top decadence that I've come to expect from items bearing the title of "cinnamon roll."  Sorta wish I'd gone with the banana crepes (which I've gotten here before, and which are excellent.)

This restaurant chain has two locations, that I know of:  one here, and one in Lemont.  For various reasons, I prefer the one in Naperville.  Despite my lukewarm review, I do consider this restaurant worth a visit.  Nice ambiance, quality food, and good service.  Really, that's all I need from a breakfast place.  It's also quite a bit nicer-looking on the inside than the outside, so it's a bit of a hidden gem.  Check it out if you're in the area.  

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Anthony's Pancake House, Lockport

Anthony's Pancake House &; Restaurant
1030 E 9th St.
Lockport, IL 60441

Well, it looks like you've got to be a webmaster to have a decent-looking blog on Blogger anymore. Used to be you could just upload your photos straight to your blog, and then it was easy to work them in to your entry however you wanted. It was really intuitive and simple and easy to understand, and I think that everyone was happy with it. Some time in the past year, they changed everything, so now I don't have any idea how to post a picture and then begin my text below it. That's how I always wanted to do this and I'm more than a little annoyed and resentful that doing this is no longer as simple as it once was. Once you post a picture, it's almost as though you're forced to begin your paragraph alongside it until you reach the end of it. Only then are you free to type normal paragraphs uninterrupted by pictures. I'll admit that this looks good some of the time but it's not what I want to do here and I haven't found a way around it yet. And posting pictures side by side? Forget about it! It comes out looking like this:

Really, all I want to do is post these pictures side by side (which we used to do all the time), but apparently that's not an option anymore and the pictures can only display like this, stacked on top of each other with lots of negative space on the side. We've had this blog for years but now our entries look like hot garbage written by idiots who don't know what they're doing or don't care that it looks bad. Maybe everyone reads blogs on their smartphones now and is used to webpages being manged like this? I sure hope not but I wouldn't know.

I don't know when everything changed here. Now we have to upload our pictures to Picasa before linking them to the blog. Yeah, I know that's where they were always uploading to in the first place but this just seems like a pointless extra step.

We started this entry nine months ago and forgot about it until now, so I can't tell you much about Anthony's other than it's a pretty average family restaurant with good, cheap breakfast served all day long. I don't remember their hours, either. We had blueberry pancakes and pigs in a blanket. Each was acceptably good. That's about all I can say. Sorry this wasn't a very helpful entry.

One item of note is the fact that Anthony's is but a stone's throw or two down the street from another pancake house, Honey Field, which is on our short list of pancake houses to try next. Who will come out on top? Stay tuned for this showdown of breakfast titans...

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Eggs Inc, Bolingbrook

Eggs Inc.
278 South Weber Road
Bolingbrook, IL 60490

April 19, 2011

Eggs Inc. is a new restaurant which opened recently in Bolingbrook. Before this visit, I'd already tried it a couple of times, and each time I got the same thing: the Dancing Elvis. I mean, with a name like that, how can you not get it? Luckily it lives up to its name. It's banana bread french toast slathered in peanut butter sauce, with banana slices on top. I might have finally found something more decadent than my old favorite, the cinnamon swirl french toast from Mother's.

Eggs Inc. has a few other unique offerings as well, but in many respects it's a standard pancake house with farm-themed decor and the usual fare. Not that that's a bad thing. I like having some idea of what to expect when I walk into a restaurant. Somewhat more unexpected was the large decorative plastic egg on the wall. Though this restaurant is called Eggs Inc. and has more of an egg theme than anything, I'm not sure I've ever actually gotten eggs here. When I come back, maybe I'll try one of their omelets or their eggs Benedict. But it's hard to resist that Dancing Elvis.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Niko's Breakfast Club, Romeoville

Niko's Breakfast Club
38 S Weber Rd
Romeoville, IL 60446

Autumn 2010


Groucho Marx once said, "I wouldn't want to be part of a club that would have me as a member." "I know they don't want me in the damn club / They even make me show ID to get inside of Sam's Club," Kanye West complained. Well at Niko's Breakfast Club, no membership is required! Maybe we could have asked to join anyway, and received a special "members only" menu or something. At least then they would have served me oatmeal instead of telling me they were all out for the day.

But anyway, Niko's is a good restaurant with a nice breakfast menu. Nothing that will change your life, but a welcome oasis in the desert of south suburban depression that is Romeoville. Last week, a man was crushed to death under three tons of granite at a Romeoville warehouse. What an awful way to die. And getting crushed by the granite must have been awful as well.

NikosEggsBenedictx NikosOrchardPancakesx

As you can see, Niko's kitchen is overwhelmed with a supply of cantaloupe, which they unload piece by piece with nearly every breakfast entree. Their pancakes are very good. During my visit, I ordered the orchard pancakes, which arrived with baked apples on top and a dusting of cinnamon. At least that's how I remember it. We started this entry several months ago and forgot about until today. Apologies to Niko himself if I've mischaracterized his pancakes. I do remember enjoying them quite a bit, for whatever it's worth.

Niko's, like so many breakfast restaurants, employs a design motif that evokes not so much a genuine nostalgia for our nation's agrarian past -- one that most of us who've barely set foot on an actual farm in our lives have never really experienced -- but a kind of yearning for the American Heimat that, deep in our collective subconscious, we're all beckoned to. Breakfast at Niko's (or Egg Harbor, or Southern Belle's, or even ) is an experience that surrounds the customer with touches of "country living," from antique signs to vintage kitchen appliances to whimsical rooster figurines, satisfying our urge to leave behind our fast-paced lifestyles and return to simpler times. If you like this sort of thing, boy oh boy, you're gonna love eating at Niko's.


Ayinsan here. Not too much to add, but among the restaurants we've visited, this is one I'm particularly fond of. Their menu boasts a lot of interesting breakfast offerings aside from the standard pancakes and waffles. Niko's pecan roll French toast, particularly, is quite good. Sweet and soft and pecan-y. I recommend their eggs Benedict, too. It's easy to ruin poached eggs--a little too runny or a little too firm, and it's no good--but Niko's are always that ideal combination of soft and chewy, and the hollandaise sauce is thick and rich. Nothing worse than watery hollandaise sauce, but you won't find that here.

Also, may I add that their portion sizes are gargantuan? I eat here and I'm full for the next eight hours...and I've got a pretty big appetite. Your eggs Benedict will arrive with a mountain of hash browns and slices of cantaloupe as big as the Cheshire cat's grin. And, as you can see above, they will spray practically an entire can's worth of whipped cream onto your pancakes. Greek restaurants seem to have a tradition of overstuffing their customers, and Niko's is no exception. Chances are you'll be needing a to go container.

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.