Rainbow Restaurant and Pancake House in Algonquin Now Open

The Rainbow Restaurant and Pancake House on Route 31/Main Street in the Fox River Center mall in Algonquin is now open for breakfast and lunch. The diner is bright and cheery even on the grey morning we visited. Decorated in a warm toasty fawn color, the newly remodeled restaurant includes high-end ceramic floor tile with marble counters and matching window sills.

A warm muffin right out of the oven started our meal. Plenty of choices on the menu! The extensive breakfast menu includes skillets, omelettes, frittatas, eggs Benedict and more. Three full plates brought my husband’s steak and eggs meal; it was so big.

Steak and Eggs at The Rainbow Restaurant and Pancake House

Steak and Eggs at The Rainbow Restaurant and Pancake House

My potato pancakes were delicious. Rainbow Restaurant makes them from scratch every day using fresh ingredients. The pancakes are never frozen or prepackaged. This is the case with all the foods at Rainbow Restaurant.

Potato Pancakes at The Rainbow Restaurant and Pancake House

Potato Pancakes at The Rainbow Restaurant and Pancake House

John warmly greeted us at the door and seated us promptly. Our server, Jan, was attentive and friendly. Staff topped off our coffee and water glasses regularly while swiftly clearing empty plates.

After breakfast, I spoke with owner Nick Dimitrelis. This is his second Rainbow Restaurant; the first opened in Elmhurst 30 years ago. His friendliness and passion for serving high quality and quantities of food came through. His goal for Rainbow Restaurant is to serve more than just pancake house fare. Every day the Rainbow Restaurant will feature specials starting at 11 AM such as stuffed peppers, meatloaf, BBQ spare ribs, lamb shanks, and baked Greek chicken. Each day the chefs cook two homemade soups from scratch.

Two chefs, one helper and a large staff keep the Rainbow Restaurant humming. I counted at least seven servers while we were there. Service was extremely friendly and attentive to our needs.

Owner Nick Dimitrelis and server Jan at Rainbow Restaurant and Pancake House

Owner Nick Dimitrelis and server Jan at Rainbow Restaurant and Pancake House

As a vegetarian, I asked about vegetarian options. Nick said at least two vegetarian dishes are on the menu and they are happy to customize orders to meet guest’s wishes.

Krisztina and John welcome guests at Rainbow Restaurant and Pancake House

Krisztina and John welcome guests at Rainbow Restaurant and Pancake House

Carry out service is available. Currently, Rainbow Restaurant is open for early breakfast through mid afternoon. The shopping center has plenty of parking stalls.
Rainbow Restaurant and Pancake House on Urbanspoon

Happy Buddha Vietnamese Vegetarian Restaurant

We had lunch at Happy Buddha Vietnamese Vegetarian Restaurant in Barrington this week and look forward to a return visit. This tiny diner shares a building with a computer repair business. Look for the McDonald’s next door as a landmark.

Happy Buddha opened 7 months ago as a vegetarian only restaurant. Many patrons requested items with meat and a non-vegetarian section was added to the menu.

We started our meal with a pot of green tea and vegetarian spring rolls filled with soy shrimp, tofu, bean sprouts, mint, lettuce and rice vermicelli noodles wrapped in rice paper. A dish of peanut dipping sauce came on the side. These were a delicious blend of crunch and smoothness.

Vegetarian Spring Rolls and Hot Green Tea

Vegetarian Spring Rolls and Hot Green Tea

The lunch menu includes many choices reasonably priced at $6.95. We both chose pho from the regular menu, a broth with rice noodles and vegetables served with bean sprouts, bay leaves and lemon to add yourself. I had the vegetarian version while my partner had the beef version.

Vegetarian and Beef versions of Vietamese Pho soup

Vegetarian and Beef versions of Vietamese Pho soup

I also tried the avocado shake which I highly recommend. The generous serving was so thick it towered over the top of the glass. While we usually thick of avocado as an ingredient in Mexican foods and salads, my son has used them as an ingredient in his smoothies for several years.

Happy Buddha is alcohol free. Two Vietnamese sisters run the restaurant and be aware of possible language barriers. Be patient as the confirm your order with you. Service was attentive on our visit. If you have a party of six or more, they request you call in advance.

Happy Buddha on Urbanspoon

Papa G Restaurant Serves Greek Specialties in Elburn Illinois

Heading back from a trip to Sandwich, Illinois, we stopped at Papa G’s in Elburn for lunch. It was a Sunday morning and we has a short wait for a table. The restaurant is bright, clean and airy. The specials of the day were cheese or vegetable lasagna.

While perusing the menu, we ordered saganaki. The cheese appetizer arrived hot, though not flamed at the table, as is common at many Greek restaurants. Accompanying bread basket selections included raisin bread hearty French bread, crackers, bread sticks, butter and jelly.

Saganaki at Papa G's

Saganaki at Papa G’s Elburn, Illinois

Our server was friendly and helpful. Searching for a vegetarian choice, she offered to have the kitchen make a custom wrap using the veggies on hand and salad dressing. This was served with cottage cheese and French fries. Noel ordered fried chicken, mashed potatoes chicken gravy. The meal came with broccoli, tomato and orange slices.

Fried Chicken dinner at Papa G's Elburn, Illinois

Fried Chicken dinner at Papa G’s Elburn, Illinois

The large menu includes burgers, steak, Greek salads, pasta, chicken and Athenian steak includes some vegetarian items. A large party celebrated a family event in a separate room in the rear of the restaurant separated by glass doors.

Papa G’s is also located in Huntley, Illinois.
Papa G's on Urbanspoon

Papa G's on Foodio54

Focus on Sustenance at Duke’s Alehouse and Kitchen Crystal Lake

Duke’s Alehouse in Crystal Lake features food and specialty beers while using local and organic products. One page of the menu lists local farmers Duke’s buys from and the items they provide for the restaurant. General Manager and Chef Zak Dolezal is committed to sustenance.

We dined on the outdoor patio just off Main Street and across from the train station in downtown Crystal Lake. The shade from the umbrellas, gentle breeze and greenery added to the pleasant atmosphere. Music played in the background and was not overwhelming. The lunchtime crowd included professionals dressed in office wear.

The beer menu includes an extensive list of microbrew beers grouped by varieties. Our server was well versed on the offerings and suggested specifics after asking about our tastes. We choose a Weihenstephaner Hefeweizen with an orange slice and Bell’s Two Hearted Ale.

Appetizers looked tempting though we took a pass this visit. The roasted beet salad with endive, blue cheese and candied pecans was a hit. We asked for the bacon dressing on the side making this a vegetarian salad.

Mac and Cheese with Beet Salad at Duke's Alehouse in Crystal Lake

Mac and Cheese with Beet Salad at Duke’s Alehouse in Crystal Lake

On to the vegetarian entrees. The baked mac and cheese was creamy and hot. The grilled eggplant Parmesan came stuffed with bulgar wheat and kale, topped with tomato sauce and Parmesan cheese. Both were delicious.

Duke's Alehouse Grilled Eggplant Parmesan

Duke’s Alehouse Grilled Eggplant Parmesan

Stop at Duke’s to celebrate Meatless Monday’s where all vegetarian entrees are half price. Vegetarian and vegan items are clearly noted on the menu. Dolezal and Duke’s focus on sustainability includes hosting a monthly Green Drinks meet up.

Duke's Alehouse and Kitchen on Urbanspoon
Duke O'Briens on Foodio54

Rice Fusion Sushi Restaurant on Randall Road in Algonquin

Rice Fusion Sushi is an Asian fusion restaurant located in the Algonquin Commons shopping center along the Randall Road corridor. We stopped by for lunch on a recent Saturday afternoon. The menu includes fusion Chinese, Japanese and Thai specialties including many vegetarian items. They take special care to ensure all food is presented attractively.

Our server was attentive and helped us choose our food. The sushi was fresh and we liked all the dished we sampled.

Our meal started with a peanut and avocado maki roll, an interesting mix of creamy and crunchy textures. Miso soup and salad with house ginger dressing made daily was served next. Stacked pieces of Agedashi Tofu sat on a banana leaf accompanied by an orange slice and orchid blossom.

Agedashi Tofu at Rice on Randall Road in Algonquin

Agedashi Tofu at Rice Fusion Sushi Restaurant on Randall Road in Algonquin

Peanut and Avocado Maki Roll at Rice Restuarant

Peanut and Avocado Maki Roll at Rice Fusion Sushi Restaurant

Noel had the sashimi lunch; eight pieces of fish including salmon, tuna, crab and fluke.  This was served with a dollop of fine black masago.

Sashimi lunch at Rice Fusion Sushi Restaurant in Algonquin

Sashimi lunch at Rice Fusion Sushi Restaurant in Algonquin

My Hibachi Tofu came with a choice of white or brown rice and soup or salad.

Save room for dessert! We tried two items and they were both delicious. The chocolate caramel pyramid was cool and creamy as it melted in my mouth. The green tea and vanilla mochi balls were layered with whipped cream in a martini glass.

Green Tea and Vanilla Mochi in a Whipped Cream Cloud Next to Chocolate Caramel Pyramid

Green Tea and Vanilla Mochi in a Whipped Cream Cloud Next to Chocolate Caramel Pyramid at Rice Fusion Sushi Restaurant in Algonquin

There are many items our server recommended that we plan to try on our next visit, including Thai Coconut Soup and Sweet Potato Roll. Choose from three maki rolls from a special menu for $12.

Full bar service is includes a choice of Asian beers. The interior of the restaurant is red and black with a Chinese flavor. A smiling Buddha greats you as you enter the restaurant. For those who cannot make it to Rice, delivery is available.

We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Rice.

Rice Fusion Sushi | 2523 N. County Line Rd. Algonquin, IL 60102 | 847.658.5233

Rice on Urbanspoon

Aladdin Deli at Milwaukee Public Market Third District

We had lunch at Aladdin Deli while at the Milwaukee Public Market. Many Middle Eastern favorites are on the menu at this fast food location. Select your choices including vegetarian selections to prepared to eat there or packaged to go.

The deli counter offers portions for dinners or parties. Hummus, Egyptian Rice, Dolmas, Baklava and other specialties are available in the glass case.

We had the Vegetarian Combo and Gyros plates. Both were served with pita and hummus. The falafel was crisp and hot. The Egyptian rice had lentils, garbanzos, elbow noodles as well as rice. It was an delicious combination.

Aladdin Deli at Milwaukee Public Market

Aladdin Deli at Milwaukee Public Market

Aladdin Deli at Milwaukee Public Market on Urbanspoon

Milwaukee Public Market in Third District

The Milwaukee Public Market in Third District is the place to be for an unique selection of artisan foods. There is a wide variety and a large selection of vegetarian items. My biggest struggle was narrowing my choices. The first floor of the market is packed with restaurants and stores offering local foods, drinks, flowers and kitchenware.

Select items either to go or eat in. Plenty of tables for dinig are available upstairs or outside. We purchased foods at one location and ate at another vendor where we purchased drinks. I found many vegetarian selections to choose from including items at Aladdin – Taste of the East, Pita Works, The Soup & Stock Pot, The Green Kitchen and Margarita Paradise.

Follow the Milwaukee Public Market on Twitter and Facebook.

Milwaukee Public Market
Milwaukee Public Market

Milwaukee Public Market on Urbanspoon

Chen Newest Chinese Restaurant in McHenry County

If you like Chinese food, check out Chen Chinese Cuisine restaurant in Lake in the Hills, McHenry County. This stand alone site which was once a Bakers Square restaurant has been completely remodeled. If the Chen name sounds familiar, you may have been to Chen’s original location which was in a strip mall across Randall Road for the past 8 years. The original restaurant, opened 16 years ago, is in Crystal Lake.

Throughout our meal we could hear the soothing sounds of the water sculpture in the front entry way. Large windows surround the dining area which is bisected by the bar area. Black lacquered tables and warm brown and red colors complete the atmosphere.

Our meal began with a pot of tea. We choose green tea; Oolong and jasmine tea are also available.

We ordered from the large lunch time specials menu. I had the vegetarian Ma Po Tofu, soft tofu with peas, carrots, dried pepper flakes in a brown sauce. Noel F. Williams had the Mongolian Beef, with beef, white and green onions in a somewhat sweet sauce served over a bed of rice noodles. Noel asked for his meal to be prepared spicy and the dish was not as hot as he would have liked.

Lunch specials come with crisp, fried vegetarian spring rolls and rice. Jasmine rice is served though brown and friend rice are available upon request.

Ma Po Tufu and Mongolian Beef

Ma Po Tufu and Mongolian Beef at Chen Chinese Cuisine in Lake in the Hills, McHenry County

 

We also order soup with our lunch. Noel had a bowl of the egg drop soup. I ordered the vegetable soup with tofu, mushrooms and broccoli in vegetarian broth. My soup came in a large serving bowl with a ladle which I used to fill my bowl.

At the end of our meal the bill was served with a couple of traditional fortune cookies.

“The restaurant opened on January 26” said Owner Ming Chen, “and we have seen a surge in business. This location is more visible to existing and new customers who are driving by or shopping locally.”

Chen Chinese Cuisine Lake in the Hills, McHenry County

Chen Chinese Cuisine on Randall Road in Lake in the Hills, McHenry County

 

Chen Chinese Cuisine is open daily.
270 N. Randall Road
Lake in the Hills, IL 60156
847-458-8000

Chen Chinese Cuisine on Urbanspoon
Chens King Wok Restaurant on Foodio54

Diced Restaurant Fresh Food Fast

One of my favorite fast food restaurants is Diced Fresh in Algonquin. It is convenient for us to stop at Diced Fresh on Randall Road for lunch in between errands. Chili, soups, baked potatoes and salads are featured items. If you have not stopped in to try their meals, I recommend you do.

The Diced Fresh menu offers a wide variety of choices and is vegetarian friendly. Perfect for winter, traditional and vegetarian chili dishes are offered. During a recent visit, six daily soup selections were available including two vegetarians soups and three premium soups.

IMG_0738

Pair your soup with a baked potato topped with your favorite fixings or as a meal itself.

The salads are my favorite. Diners choose one of the salads on the menu and the staff assembles your salad right in front of you. Since everything is made to order, you can ask them to skip an ingredient if you wish.

When I visit, I choose a made to order salad. This starts with a base of iceberg, romaine, spring mix or spinach topped with the ingredients I select. With over fifty add ins, your salad is an individual as you are.

Topping include a variety of cheeses, pine nuts, dried cranberries, red and green bell peppers, hearts of palm, sun dried tomatoes. Of course, the usual cucumber, tomato, carrots, etc. are there.

Salad dressing choices are overwhelming. Whether you like spicy, tangy, low fat, creamy or chunky, they got you covered. You can even request a taste before making your choice. The salad comes with a choice of bread and I prefer the rosemary herb roll.

If  you cannot decide, pair up two smaller portions like soup and salad or chili and baked potato.

Have Diced Fresh cater your next event and leave the cooking to them.

Diced Fresh
132 South Randall Road
Algonquin, IL 60102-9774
(847) 458-7687
Follow Diced Fresh on Facebook

Diced Fresh on Urbanspoon

Vegetarian Meals in Woodstock McHenry County Illinois

Woodstock is celebrating Groundhog Day with events all weekend. While you are in McHenry County, check out this restaurant on the square.

One of our local vegetarian restaurants, Expressly Leslie, moved from Algonquin, McHenry County. Still in McHenry County, you can find her new location on the square in Woodstock, Illinois.  Leslie offers Meatless Monday menus everyday of the week.

We talked with owner Leslie A. Cook about the menu at her restaurant.

Where Are You Today?: Describe your restaurant menu.

Leslie A. Cook: We serve up an array of delicious, all vegetarian (and vegan friendly), mostly Middle Eastern Style foods. Everything is made fresh on-site, including falafel and hummus. Our 14 salads can be combined in a variety of ways for pocket sandwiches and salad plates. Daily soups include red lentil and veggie chili, and a third soup rotates among potato and cabbage, cream of potato and leek, cream of mushroom, beet borscht, home style tomato soup, gazpacho (in summer) and many others.  Egg dishes include shakshouka, eggs poached in Moroccan salsa and Israeli breakfast with Middle Eastern style hard-boiled eggs. Jaci’s Cookies are a regular, and we have recently added hand-made chocolate truffles for those with a sweet tooth.

WAYT: Tell us about your signature dish.

LAC: Falafel Pockets and Moroccan Eggplant Pockets are our top-selling sandwiches. Falafel are made from fava beans (or chickpeas) ground with herbs and spices and lots of cilantro, rolled into balls and deep fried. The falafel balls are dropped into a whole wheat pita pocket on a bed of hummus and are topped with Jerusalem salad and tahina (sesame based lemon-garlic flavor dressing). Hot sauce (and hotter sauce) are available for the daring. Moroccan Eggplant Pockets include our own Moroccan Eggplant salad, a zesty blend of fried eggplant, onions, cilantro, pickles, garlic and tomato based dressing. The salad is dropped into a whole wheat pocket on a bed of hummus and topped with creamy cucumber salad.

ExpresslyLeslie

Expressly Leslie Vegetarian Specialties

110 S. Johnson St. , Woodstock , IL 60098 (On the Square in Woodstock )
815.338.2833
www.expresslyleslie.com

Follow Expressly Leslie Vegetarian Specialties Group on Facebook.

Expressly Leslie on Urbanspoon
Expressly Leslie LLC. on Foodio54

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