On a brisk Saturday Jill and I jumped in the car to head far up North to check out a potential wedding venue. The destination would be Lake Villa located just past Six Flags Great America. We toured the property just outside of “downtown” Lake Villa and was pleased with everything we saw. On our way out we asked the inn keeper where we should grab a quite bite before leaving the area. Without hesitation she pointed us towards what may be the only restaurant in town. So I present to you…Lake Villa Restaurant (147 Cedar Ave., Lake Villa).
We moseyed on in right at lunch time and found the restaurant to be not only far from empty, but serving at least a half dozen tables. We were greeted warmly by one of the waitresses and showed to a cozy booth. The dining room clearly hadn’t changed in years. i mean, years and years. A cute and small counter with a few stools was vacant and kitchy diner style doo dads were strewn about the restaurant but somehow with class.
One wall behind the counter had several photographs of family members and long time guests of the restaurant – just like on grandma’s fridge. The service couldn’t have been more welcoming and warm. The server knew we weren’t from town but provided us with professional and knowledgeable service about what stuff was made in house. By no means did i grill her with questions, it just seemed like the kind of joint where everything was made from scratch – and it was.
You could barely see the quick order kitchen through the small window by the back of the dining room. There were two cooks – probably guys in their sixties – killing it back there putting out omelets, pancakes of different kinds plus lunch. As you’d imagine, no computers here. Orders done in dupes by hand and an old school analog cash register to accept your loot. Cash only.
We started with an order of their home made biscuits and gravy. Somewhere that makes this classic dish from scratch is sure to do it well. The biscuits were fluffy and soaked up the rich sausage gravy as good as any I’ve tasted. The gravy wasn’t too heavy with coarse chunks of sausage throughout.
A real knife and fork dish, it was THE call to start with these as an appetizer if you will. There’s such a difference in depth and texture when it comes to truly home made gravy. The liquid was smoky, fatty, porky, a little creamy with just a hint of citrus. Really well done. And like that, they were gone. Ta-dah!
Alongside the biscuits and gravy, our chicken noodle soup was served. This was one of the most hearty, comforting and truly lovely chicken noodles we had tasted. Yes, maybe the fact that we were in such a quaint little diner made the experience whole, BUT, this soup was really good.
The depth of chicken flavor, size of veggies and noodles and even temperature were all spot on. Well done making such a simple dish taste so flavorful and authentically delicious.
I went with a diner classc. The chicken club sandwich. It was exactly what I felt like. Not too heavy, the bread was toasted nicely with just enough mayo applied to all three slices of bread. The chicken was made fresh and was actually fairly juicy for being sliced so thin. The veggies were fresh and the bacon nice and crispy. Fries done just right – not under or over. Nothing to complain about here. A chicken club that would make mom happy.
Jill ordered their Reuben. Another go to when it comes to a safe bet at a diner. Great thick sliced rye was topped with what we believe to be house corned beef brisket that was chopped. Thank you! Chopping the corned beef in a Reuben sandwich is one of THE smartest moves you can make.
By doing so the beef better incorporates with the cheese, saurkraut and thousand island. You don’t have to worry about biting you way through stringy pieces of beef. Remember, ease of eating is always a factor in considering a great sandwich.
We loved our nice lunch at The Lake Villa Restaurant. They could order their food frozen and merely heat it up in such a small town – especially being basically the only food spot. Instead, they choose to make everything from scratch and prepare their food with attention and love – really – you can sense it. They take pride in their food and service. If for some reason you’re up there. Take the extra short drive and stop by for some breakfast or lunch.
I’m hungry. Let’s eat!