Today, Colonial Cafe & Ice Cream may have seven full-service family-friendly restaurants, but when it started in 1901, it was only a single small ice cream and dairy store. Now guests can settle into breakfast, lunch, and dinner at each of the eateries –and still enjoy the ice cream that put them on the map. They have garnered particular attention for their signature dish, the Kitchen Sink Sundae, which features two whole bananas, six scoops of ice cream (vanilla, chocolate, strawberry), whipped cream, chocolate, and chopped almonds with a cherry topper. It’s served in a large dish shaped like a kitchen sink with a S-pipe as the handle. And when diners finish it, they receive a bumper sticker that reads, “I Ate a Colonial Kitchen Sink.”
While ice cream reigns supreme, their breakfasts have also earned praise. They were voted “Best Breakfast” by the Elgin Courier News, Aurora Beacon News, and Naperville Sun. Favorites among the regulars include the stuffed very berry French toast and cinnamon roll French toast. Come dinnertime, they continue serving comfort foods including fresh baked meatloaf and a mac and cheese bacon melt, as well as sandwiches such as the pot roast French dip. The restaurant has also earned plaudits for its popularity with its littlest diners, grabbing the "Best Kid-Friendly Restaurant" designation in the Kane County Chronicle Reader's Choice awards.
Inside the kitchens of Crystal Lake Rib House, chef David Faccone takes a methodical, multistep approach to making his baby back ribs: he covers them with dry rub, smokes them, and finally chargrills them before brushing over the final product with housemade barbecue sauce. His work has paid off?his tender baby back slabs earned the restaurant a 2012 Best of the Fox Award for Barbecue from Planit Northwest, as well as praise from Pat Bruno of the Chicago Sun-Times, who called them "a gift from the Gods of barbecue." In addition to ribs, the cooks also chargrill half-pound burgers, topping them with lettuce and tomato or a meaty pile of pulled pork and melted cheddar. The kitchen?s old-fashioned attention to smoked flavor is reflected in the building itself, an old house whose wooden front porch is adorned with wagon wheels. Inside, rustic hardwood floors support tables topped with white-and-red-checkered cloths, where patrons dip their spoons into hearty chili and sip domestic and imported brews.
Crystal Lake Rib House also arranges catering services for office gatherings, family reunions, and pool parties near bubbling barbecue-sauce springs. They have even catered for celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, Randy Travis, and Illinois governors, according to staff.
Following in the footsteps of their father, the three Coli brothers aim to capture the flavors and traditions of classic Chicago cuisine with their slate of hearty comfort fare. Backed by a team of chefs, they forge Georgio's Chicago Pizzeria and Pub’s trademark deep-dish pizzas from a more than 60-year-old recipe, kept hidden to preserve its authenticity and hand-model-caliber hands. The hefty pies, along with their crispy thin-crust cohorts, were declared the best pizza in McHenry County by readers of the Northwest Herald, and helped the eatery garner a slot on Pizza Today magazine’s list of the Hot 100 Independent pizzerias in 2011. The brothers complement their acclaimed creations with a roster of pasta and sandwiches, dished up amid a sleek, upscale sports-bar atmosphere. Both locations are decked out in flat-screen TVs and reclaimed exposed brick.. The comfortable environs regularly play host to fundraisers and events, such as dinners that pair the Coli brothers’ prize-winning pizzas with a lineup of craft beers on tap.
It’s fitting that 1776 Restaurant’s name hearkens back to several centuries ago. After all, the cuisine itself evokes a time when food was raised naturally and left untreated by chemical pesticides. Here, chefs adhere to a belief that things are just better when left natural, which is why they take care to source organic ingredients directly from local suppliers. Burgers made with grass-fed bison find a home between two freshly baked bread buns, and center-cut Iowa pork chops pair nicely with sides of homemade mashed potatoes. Vegetarians will feel right at home in 1776, thanks to an extensive selection of veggie pizzas, burgers, and salads served alongside soy-based replicas of the Declaration of Independence.
Metromix regards the menu at Benedict’s La Strata as a collection of "perfectly executed breakfast items." This is high praise, but appropriate enough given the restaurant’s uncommon attention to detail. A proper brunch kicks off with a glass of fresh-squeezed juice or a steamy mug of coffee from local roaster Intelligentsia. Chefs pay twofold tribute to their restaurant's name with 10 different varieties of eggs benedict and an array of sweet or savory stratas, baked egg-and-cheese dishes served with potatoes or fresh fruit. Though breakfast is the main event here, the menu also includes paninis, wraps, and dinner plates that couples can saw in half to share.
Inside HoneyBaked Ham, chefs uphold the same traditions that Harry J. Hoenselaar created more than 40 years ago. Back then, he chose individual hams, cured them in his secret marinade, and smoked them over hardwood chips before offsetting the earthy flavor with a crisp, sweet glaze. To this day, the staff makes the signature bone-in hams one at a time and glazes them in the shop.
To go with the meats, the kitchen whips up classic side dishes and desserts, such as the sweet-potato souffl?. For less formal feasting, party trays and packed lunch boxes fuel business meetings, backyard grad parties, and lengthy end-zone celebrations.