Fresh, flavorful, locally sourced fare delights at Palatine's Jelly Cafe
If you don't go to Jelly Cafe in Palatine for its exceptional food and casual, fun atmosphere, then at least go for the homemade mixed berry jelly. It's made on-site from local berries, and it's deliciously tart. Ours came with beignets, but it also arrives with toast. It's one of the highlights of any meal.
This is Jelly Cafe's second location -- the other is in Mount Prospect -- and it has taken the place of the old Grove Kitchen. The interior has been outfitted with shabby-chic furnishings and a light, open feel. Service matches the ambience; all the staff are exceedingly friendly and bright-faced.
We went for breakfast on a Saturday morning and immediately got a table, even though the restaurant was sufficiently crowded. To start, we ordered Bloody Marys, those beignets, and a pecan roll. The Bloodys were on the spicy side, but otherwise a solid standard version. We enjoyed the beignets, covered in sugar and with a little crispiness to them. But we would have preferred them to be a bit lighter like the ones in New Orleans. A little less time in the fryer and they would have been spot-on. The pecan roll came sliced crosswise. It was nice to have it cut for easy buttering, but the pecans themselves ended up only on one piece because they were sprinkled on top rather than mixed into the roll.
For our entrees, we ordered the peach cobbler crepes, strawberry banana Nutella crepes, shrimp po'boy, pot roast bennie and garden omelet. In both crepe dishes, the crepes themselves were perfectly cooked, thin and light with a slight crunch to the edges. Both also had ample amounts of incredibly fresh fruit. I would have liked more cobbler topping on the peach crepes, but otherwise they were practically perfect. The Nutella didn't overwhelm the strawberry banana crepes, and all the flavors in that dish balanced well.
The shrimp po'boy came with nicely seasoned waffle fries. The sandwich had a good amount of shrimp on it, though they were small and a bit over-breaded. It had a spicy kick to the batter that pulled everything together and took it to a new level.
For the pot roast bennie, slow-roasted beef and two poached eggs are served on a toasted English muffin with hollandaise sauce. The eggs were poached perfectly, and the meat was melt-in-your-mouth tender. All the flavors played off one another quite well. We ordered potato pancakes on the side instead of the standard house red potatoes. The pancakes are definitely not something to be missed. The shredded potatoes are mixed with onions and topped with green peppers, cheddar-jack cheese, scallions and sour cream. They were delightfully crispy and flavorful. Next time, I'll order a small side of applesauce to go with them.
The garden omelet came with mushrooms, onions, tomatoes and ham substituted for the typical avocado. Cheddar-jack and Swiss cheese were melted on top, with a side of salsa and a large portion of the house red potatoes. We were impressed with the omelet -- it was rolled in the pan in the French style instead of folded over, so all the ingredients were mixed throughout the eggs. As a result, the omelet was light and tender as well, instead of chewy or overcooked. The side of potatoes were equally good, seasoned well and slightly crispy.
We plan to return sooner rather than later, perhaps with my family so we can explore the kids' menu. Plus everything else on the menu -- there were a lot of options and it was hard to narrow down our choices.
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795 W. Dundee Road, Palatine, (847) 496-4077, jelly-cafe.com/
Cuisine: American brunch
Hours: 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily
• Restaurant reviews are based on one anonymous visit. The Daily Herald does not publish reviews of restaurants it cannot recommend.