Quest For The Best: Breakfast!

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HILLTOP RESTAURANT
303 S. Michigan St.
Lakeville, IN
(574) 784–3474
www.lakevillehilltop.com

Cars lining both sides of U.S. 31 South is a sure indicator that you’re approaching The Hilltop Restaurant in Lakeville, Indiana. The quote on the menu says it all, “Everything is prepared with a sincere desire for excellence.” Karen Iovino and her mother Vera Gouker have been co-owners of the restaurant since 1977. The daily special board today lists the “Obamalet” (spinach, onion, cream cheese, and pepper jack cheese Omelet). I opted for the grits (my favorite breakfast food), homemade sausage gravy with biscuits and hash browns. The portions so generous that it made for a great breakfast two days in a row!

My guest ordered the Hilltop Sampler—2 eggs, bacon, sausage, potatoes, biscuits and homemade sausage gravy, 2 pancakes, and toast ($7.95). Once again, VERY generous portions and pancakes with crispy edges—just they way he likes them! Warm syrup accompanies the overflowing plate.

Other popular menu selections include the stuffed French Toast—French bread stuffed with pineapple and cream cheese, topped with blueberries and served with orange sauce ($4.50), and the Steak and Eggs—a 6 oz. boneless sirloin served with 2 eggs, toast, and choice of potatoes ($7.45).

Karen’s on a mission to healthier eating for her customers and has added “hi-octane” oatmeal with flax, sunflower seeds, and quinoa. But I sense that it will be a challenge to sway her customers away from the homemade sausage and gravy!

Being listed among the best Indiana home cafes in Cafe Indiana—A Guide to Indiana’s Down Home Cafes is something Karen and Vera are proud of, and have rightfully earned. Actually, the Hilltop won the medallion for being the “best of the best” as chosen by the authors of the book, who traveled the country in search of the best local cafes.
Now I know why the Hilltop Restaurant is listed among the best “down home cafes” in Indiana, and why my mother-in-law can’t make it out of the county on her trips south without stopping for breakfast at the Hilltop. Great home-cooked food, hometown ambience and outstanding customer service.

 

LE PEEP RESTAURANT
127 South Michigan Street
South Bend, IN
(574) 288–7337
www.lepeep.com

Lé Breakfast, Lé Brunch, Lé Lunch. Lé Peep restaurant, located in downtown South Bend, has a prime location amongst the shops and cafe’s of S. Michigan street and on any given morning you’ll find quite a few people coming in to enjoy some of the best breakfast dishes around.
We were happy to find ourselves there while on our quest for the best, and we were not disappointed. Their space is warm and elegant, and, with the large storefront windows, has an open and inviting ambiance. We enjoyed two of their popular dishes, the Spinnaker egg-white omelet and the Drifter panhandled skillet dish.

The Spinnaker was a fresh, steaming omelet prepared from whipped egg whites filled with fresh spinach, mushrooms, crisp bacon and topped with blended cheeses, a tomato wheel and a sprinkling of chives. A generous and satisfying portion size, it was served with peasant potatoes and a multigrain English muffin. This healthier take on the traditional omelet was completely delicious and abundant with flavor. If you’re looking for something even lighter, the peasant potatoes can be substituted with fresh fruit.

The Drifter panhandled skillet dish makes for a savory, complete and hearty breakfast.  Deliciously seasoned diced potatoes are tumbled with an array of the freshest vegetables: mushrooms, onions, red and green peppers and zucchini. Potatoes and veggies are covered with cheddar and monterey cheeses, melted in the oven and then topped with two perfectly basted eggs—all served hot right to your table in the skillet!
Enjoy a specialty coffee with your meal—they have a different flavor each week. We had the Autumn Spice blend and it was delicious, warm and richly-flavored. Coffee and water are served in carafes on your table, so you’re never stranded for refills. But that wouldn’t likely happen anyway, owner Peg Dalton has an excellent staff—very quick, friendly and knowledgeable.

We were so happy with our experience at Lé Peep, we will definitely be repeating it. Stop in and try one of their lé breakfasts, lé brunches or lé lunches for yourself!

 

GRANMA’S KITCHEN
3709 S. Main St.
Elkhart, IN
(574) 875–8333

Do not expect to see grandma at Granma’s House of Pancakes in Elkhart.  Instead, expect to be welcomed by your host, George Kamiotis, a Deniro type with a commanding presence who will ensure that you are happy with your visit.

While perusing the extensive menu, our friendly waitress made several recommendations. We chose the Hawaii Five-O, a five-egg omelet, a combination of cheese, ham, pineapple, and oozing Monterey Jack Cheese prepared just right and big enough for any appetite. The word “hearty” was invented here. The accompaniments include your choice of hash browns made from scratch, 2 pancakes or fresh fruit. And George means fresh!

From the list of international pancakes, we chose “A Little Bit of France,” three pieces of cinnamon spiral bread dipped in egg batter and cooked to a golden brown and smothered with Granma’s own special sautéed topping of cinnamon, apples and plump raisins.  The dish is prepared with Washington apples which adds just the right tartness. 

George brought all the cooking secrets that he acquired while working in Chicago to his restaurant which he opened 21 years ago. Granma’s House of Pancakes is a great find and is open for both breakfast and lunch 7 days a week from 5:30 am to 3:30 pm.

 

HONKER’S FAMILY RESTAURANT
3939 South Michigan St.
South Bend, IN
(574) 291–2115

211 East Day Road
Mishawaka, IN
(574) 259–3000

The Rise & Shine breakfast is light yet filling, a Honkers favorite featuring two eggs any style,  three buttermilk pancakes and choice of two strips of bacon or two sausage links. Honkers allows you to substitute plain pancakes for any of their delicious specialty pancakes for a small additional charge, and I opted to try the blueberry. I don’t usually love pancakes in particular but these were perfect—fluffy and not overly sweet with plump blueberries cooked inside, served with a generous side of warm blueberry compote. After sampling just a smidge of the compote, it was so tasty that I went all the way and soaked the pancakes with rest of it, nixing maple syrup altogether. I particularly love blueberries, knowing that they are ranked no. 1 in antioxidant benefits—delicious and nutritious! Add to that a hot cup of coffee, enjoyed in the sun-filled dining room and the Rise & Shine Breakfast at Honkers is the perfect start to your day.

As a “breakfast person,” I had high expectations of Honker’s in South Bend. After several minutes of indecisiveness (it’s hard to pick just one thing!) the #2 Farmer’s Skillet sounded like the winner. The skillet layered sausage crumbles, onions and American cheese with grilled potatoes, scrambled eggs and Honker’s very own sausage gravy. It was served promptly and hot; with the complimentary flavors playing up the freshness of the individual ingredients...Delicious! I substituted a piece of French Toast for one of the more “traditional” sides. That, too, came out hot with warm maple syrup and just the right amount of “cinnamon-ness.”  While these flavors are not typically mixed, it was just enough variety that quelled my initial indecision and left me planning my next early morning trip to Honkers.


MACADOO’S FAMILY RESTAURANT
2108 Lincoln Way East
Mishawaka, IN
(574) 259–7669

There is a long tradition of great food and great service at Macadoo’s Family Restaurant. Owners Tim and Kathy McDonald haven’t skipped a beat for the last 20 years. Each day, Tim cooks up “Almost World Famous Biscuits and Gravy” while Kathy hustles table to table and keeps the books in order...always with a smile. Eight years ago Mishawaka welcomed the quaint addition from River Park. Irish, Irish Everywhere and plenty of school spirit make this family-friendly spot feel like home. Macadoo’s also boasts extra large high back wooden booths, two semi-private front rooms, a back dining room and a breakfast counter.

We stopped in and were agreeably introduced to Macadoo’s “Southern Omelet.” Sausage, Onions, Potatoes, Cheese in every bite of a perfectly browned, fluffy omelet smothered in homemade sausage gravy. In a soup bowl!  If you are like me and want one of everything, this is a great choice. Once you get through the omelet there is a side of toast to help tackle the leftover gravy. We were also tempted by the “Meat Lover’s Omelet.” There is no skimping on the full-flavor ham and crispy bacon with perfectly gooey cheese. 

Although known for biscuits and gravy, Macadoo’s serves everything breakfast and lunch including a tuna melt and NY Strip! This is a great place to be—food, family and friends.  It doesn’t get much better!

 

UPTOWN KITCHEN
Toscana Park
303 Florence Ave.
Granger, IN
(574) 968–3030
www.UptownKitchen.net

If you thought you could only find a chic, comfortable, contemporary restaurant with fresh, organic and delectable food in Chicago or Detroit...Think again.

Uptown Kitchen has a commitment to no processed meats which have preservatives, coloring agents or chemicals and a goal to provide you with an extraordinary experience you’ll want to enjoy again and again. Their saying: “Eat well. Be Happy” certainly was the result we felt after experiencing our meal.

From my first conversation with proprietor, Jonathan Lutz, CPP (Chief People Person) who set up the visit,  to our experience with their GM, Robert M. Lapre and our server, Leslie all I can say is what a great bunch of people! Robert was very accommodating and you could tell his passion for the food they served. Leslie was very attentive and both always with a smile.

The food. Wow! When it came to omelets we loved the fact we could create our own or pick from the recipes they had created. My wife’s omelet was a combination of sausage, cheddar cheese, chives, mushrooms and tomatoes. Her words. Perfect consistency and texture. Not dry or mushy. You can tell my wife is a texture person. She said: “Wonderful flavors that burst in my mouth!”

I chose a unique combination of lump crab, red onion, mushrooms, spinach and muenster cheese. It was awesome and both omelets were more than ample portions. Also the home fries were some of the best we had ever had. Fresh cut potatoes with a crisp seasoned outside and warm potato in the middle. Just the way I like them.

Don’t miss the amazing homemade desserts and the fact that they are now serving dinners. I heard that the Seared NY Strip Steak with Lyonnais Potatoes finished with Chevre and Whiskey Butter is out of this world. Keep your eyes out for their new restaurant, The Mark (Dine and Tap) opening up in May of 2010, a 50’s Retro Diner at Eddy Street Commons by Notre Dame.

 

MAPLE CAFE
68867 M–62 South
Edwardsburg, MI
(269) 663–3291
 

There aren’t many area restaurants where you can enjoy breakfast in the presence of a 17 point buck. But just across the state line in Edwardsburg, Michigan at the Maple Café, you’ll find what may be one of the largest deer heads you’ve ever seen mounted on the wall.  It was a gift from a customer to restaurant owner Philip Philippou.

Something else you’ll find at the local favorite—enormous, seven egg omelettes. “We double every egg order,” boasts the café’s menu. When we tried the House Favorite with ham, onions, green peppers, mushrooms and American cheese; and the Farmer’s Omelet with ham, bacon, tomato and cheddar cheese, we weren’t disappointed. They were literally 2 inches thick, nearly the size of a football! Both were served piping hot and chock full of crunchy veggies, tender meat and oozing cheese.  In case that wasn’t enough, the dish came with chunky home fries and toast.  We were so stuffed, we skipped lunch that day!

If you have a huge appetite for great food and fast service with a smile, check out the Maple Café for breakfast, lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday 7 am–9 pm and Sundays 7 am–4 pm.  Tell Philip we sent you!
 

 

JENNIE RAE’S
5201 E. US 20
Rolling Prairie, IN
(219) 778–4100
www.jennieraes.com

If you’re looking for a restaurant that offers unique breakfast fare alongside the traditional favorites, look no further! Just west of where US 20 meets Indiana 2, you’ll find Jennie Rae’s—a family restaurant where you can dine in or carry your favorites out.

For those of you with a super sweet tooth, we recommend the Butter Pecan Stuffed French Toast. A cream cheese whip filling oozes between two thick slices of bread dipped in french toast batter, then browned to perfection. Owner Jennifer Baltes (also known as Jennie Rae) then tops it off with a brown sugar butter pecan topping and a few dallops of whipped cream.  Pecans add crunchy texture to the otherwise gooey treat that melts in your mouth. 

The Italian open faced Omelet is another wonderful house special. This taste bud explosion comes with, of course, spicy Italian sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, onions, various peppers, and mozzarella cheese. It comes to you beautifully garnished with fresh spinach and enough of a portion to fill the heartiest of appetites. Monga!

Stop in to see the gang Monday through Saturday from 5:30 am–8 pm and Sunday 5:30 am–2 pm. You might also want to try Jennie Rae’s homemade jams and check out her popular Friday night family fish fry.
 














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