South Elgin's Sweet Berry offers unique twists on breakfast favorites
It's easy to see how Sweet Berry Cafe in South Elgin could become habit-forming.
After a single visit, I was hooked and ready to return to sample more of executive chef Hector Hernandez's extensive, well-executed breakfast and lunch menu. The place, which employs a high-energy staff, bustles with families and individual diners who sit at booths or tables.
The casual eatery, opened in mid-2013 by Dan Mataragas, has high standards, starting with the fresh-brewed Kona Coffee from Hawaii (unlimited cups at $2.10 per customer are a steal).
Sweet Berry Cafe offers a full complement of made-to-order breakfast items, from omelets, frittatas and eggs Benedict to French toast, waffles and crepes. Pumpkin figured in several daily specials, while lunch items -- salads, wraps and half-pound black Angus burgers -- round out the menu.
Depending on one's appetite, oatmeal, granola, Greek yogurt and fresh fruit with raisin toast starters also are available.
Marking a special occasion? Consider starting the meal with one of several festive vodka-based cocktails, including a Pomegranate Mimosa or a Bacon Bloody Mary.
Diners can customize the contents of their omelets, opt for gluten-free pancakes or order heart-healthy dishes served with a side of fruit or multigrain toast.
Eggs Benedict, a longtime favorite, comes in six iterations, including the traditional version that brings together poached eggs and Canadian bacon on an English muffin topped with hollandaise sauce.
I especially liked the Seafood Benedict, which swapped the English muffin for two crab-and-shrimp cakes topped with a lively chipotle hollandaise and came accompanied by home fries. Other variations featured fillet medallions, zucchini cakes, turkey sausage patties, Portobello mushrooms, or sauteed spinach and tomatoes.
A bite of the Denver Spuds my wife ordered proved why the satisfying dish was listed among the cafe's specialties. In this creation, four potato skins got a flavor boost from a filling of scrambled eggs, ham, scallions and green peppers -- the whole business topped with melted cheddar. Sour cream was served on the side.
As plans for a future visit crystallized, our cheery waitress recommended one of the restaurant's popular favorites: a four-egg crab frittata baked with blue crab, red potatoes, Monterey Jack cheese and drizzled with hollandaise.
We also might give Strawberry Banana French Toast a whirl or the dessert-like Eskimo Waffle served with vanilla ice cream, fresh strawberries and whipped cream.
Still other options included Huevos Rancheros, eggs with blue corn tortillas, chorizo, cilantro and cheese; biscuits and gravy with homemade turkey sausage; and a horseradish prime rib sandwich on ciabatta bread.
Sweet Berry Cafe boasts that its soups are made fresh each day and offered at half price on a to-go basis from 2 to 3 p.m.
Free Wi-Fi encourages customers to linger over that extra cup of joe.
• Restaurant reviews are based on a single anonymous visit. The Daily Herald does not publish reviews of restaurants it cannot recommend.
Sweet Berry Cafe720 N. McLean Blvd., South Elgin, (224) 238-3057, sweetberrycafe.net
Cuisine: Breakfast and lunch fare
Setting: Welcoming environment to individuals, families
Hours: 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily