Sweet and savory, Buffalo Grove's new Garden Berry Cafe bursts with flavor
I love going out for breakfast on the weekend. Opening the front door of a place filled with the aromas of just-plated pancakes and freshly brewed coffee sets a great tone for the rest of my Saturday or Sunday. On the flip side … yanking on the front door of a favorite cafe and suddenly realizing it's locked because the place has closed for good can send even the most positive person into an emotional tailspin of breakfast despair. The latter was an experience I encountered last year. But that previous empty space in Buffalo Grove has now bloomed into the all-new Garden Berry Café.
This reincarnated eatery, in a strip mall at the corner of Half Day (Route 22) and Buffalo Grove roads, opened up recently in the space that used to be Gail's Carriage House. This is Garden Berry's second location; the original is in Vernon Hills. Beyond the new sign hanging over the door, nothing has really changed in terms of the restaurant layout and interior design, with the exception of a couple of flat-screen TVs hanging on the walls. But the menu features some new items that are worth trying.
On my recent Sunday morning visit, I combined an order between two dishes that caught my eye. I went with the stuffed portobello classic scramble, featuring scrambled egg whites, spinach, red peppers, green onions and melted mozzarella cheese sitting atop cooked portobello mushrooms. It comes with a choice of several side dishes. I decided on the Red Velvet French Toast for a slight upcharge. Sweet and savory with plenty of coffee … this visit was off to a good start.
Having recently come around to ordering a dish with mushrooms, this scramble was well-prepared with ingredients that combined nicely on the plate and tasted great. It was tough to hold off on devouring the French toast, but I treated it more like dessert. It was worth the wait. In addition to a cream center amid the red velvet-cakey texture, this caloric treat comes with strawberries and whipped cream on top. You can also order it as an entree.
Whether you're craving breakfast or lunch, Garden Berry's menu has more than enough to pick from. In addition to the usual pancake, waffle, crepe and egg dishes and burgers, melts, wraps, sandwiches and salads, there are some eye-catching selections. For example, have you tried a churro waffle? Garden Berry's version features a regular waffle coated in cinnamon sugar with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Maybe the perfect breakfast dish for someone who just came off working the overnight shift?
Staying in the sugar category, you could dive into the Nutella crepes with a choice of bananas or strawberries, or you could go savory with the Route 45 crepes filled with spinach, mushrooms, onions and cheddar cheese rolled together and topped with hollandaise sauce.
And if you really can't decide, Garden Berry makes it easy with the samples menu featuring three sizes of breakfast combo platters: The Baby, the Mama and the Papa (three eggs, a choice of meat and a choice of pancakes, French toast, crepes, potato pancakes, or biscuits and gravy).
Garden Berry's menu, with its extensive descriptions in tiny font, can be hard to read, especially in the morning before that first wake-up cup of coffee. So a more reader-friendly (i.e. larger type) menu might be a consideration. The service was also a bit on the slow side during my visit. I waited about 30 minutes before breakfast arrived, but kudos to my server who came over to apologize for the wait and kept my coffee cup full.
This new Garden Berry benefits from a loyal crowd who had to put their routine breakfast visits on hold until the doors reopened after the restaurant transition. With a great variety of tasty menu items, the cafe's next challenge is making itself stand out among local breakfast eateries. Maybe the "wow factor" will start with a new Goldilocks Sample breakfast entree?
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Garden Berry Cafe
340 W. Half Day Road, Buffalo Grove, (847) 383-6467, gardenberrycafe.com/
Cuisine: American breakfast and lunch
Hours: 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily
Prices: $3.95 to $16.95, with most entrees around $8.95 to $10.95
• Restaurant reviews are based on one anonymous visit. The Daily Herald does not publish reviews of restaurants it cannot recommend.