I have a dealer in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago and when I was in there recently, I got together with him for breakfast at a place he suggested in Des Plaines - Katie's Kitchen. "It's a neighborhood place," he told me. "And they have great breakfasts." I was staying near O'Hare airport on the south side of Des Plaines and it was about a 20 minute drive from my hotel to Katie's Kitchen.
Katie's Kitchen is a breakfast and lunch place that is open from 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. through the week, and 6:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on the weekends, and not long ago they began to serve dinner on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Katie Kautz is the Katie behind the name on the restaurant and along with the help of her father, Michael Kautz, she opened the doors of the restaurant in October of 2008. (Michael Kautz is the owner of Michael Kautz Carpets, a longtime flooring business in nearby Mt. Prospect.) A hands on owner, you'll often see Katie Kautz working the floor serving food and filling up coffee cups.
Katie's Kitchen is in a small strip mall on N. Wolf Road in between Rand Road and Central Avenue (see map). In fact, it is right across the road from one of my favorite little Italian places in the NW suburbs, Bob Mele's Little Villa (click here to see my entry on Bob Mele's). I walked into the restaurant situated on the south side of the strip mall. My dealer hadn't shown up yet. I told the girl at the counter that there would be two of us, but that I'd wait for a moment to see if my guest would show up.
The brightly light restaurant featured two dining rooms - the first dining room had a number of booths along the walls with tables in the middle. The far dining room had a similar set up only with banquette seating along the walls instead of booths, but it also had a large fireplace that was conspicuously not lit on a cold Chicago morning.
While I was waiting for my dealer to show up, I was reading some of the reviews that they had cut out on placed on the wall of the front waiting area. There was an article from Chicago Magazine where they called the cinnamon swirl French toast at Katie's Kitchen the best in Chicagoland. I wasn't planning on having much for breakfast, but that was certainly intriguing.
My dealer finally showed up and we took a booth in the back corner of the first dining room. Our waitress came over with menus and a couple moments later she came back with two small ginger muffins. It was a nice little welcoming touch.
As I said, Katie's Kitchen is famous for their cinnamon swirl French toast. My dealer told me, "Oh, boy. It's good. But it is SOOO rich!" I was looking at getting one of their breakfast sandwiches - the Wagon with corned beef hash, scrambled eggs and Swiss on grilled marble rye bread was my top choice. They also had a meat lovers skillet with eggs, Katie's signature diced red potatoes, and bacon, sausage and ham that looked good. She had also left off a separate "specials" menu that featured a number of items including a chili omelet made with Katie's housemade chili recipe.
But I kept going back to the cinnamon swirl French toast. They take housemade cinnamon rolls with a glaze of cream cheese on top, cut them flat, dip them in an egg batter, grill them up and top them with cinnamon sugar. I just had to give 'em a try. My dealer went basic - eggs over easy, red diced potatoes and ham.
The breakfast came out not long after we ordered and I was served three hearty slices of the cinnamon swirl French toast. The caramelized sugar glaze was oozing out of the swirls, there was an ample amount of cinnamon sugar on top, and it came with a small tub of chock full of butter and a small container of maple syrup.
The taste was simply out of this world. It was the most unusually great sweet breakfast taste I think I've ever encountered. The roll/toast was somewhat chewy and had a nice crisp outer side to the face and back.
But my dealer was very correct - they were VERY rich! Oh man! I've been watching what I eat lately - especially portion sizes - and thankfully I ate slow enough for my stomach to tell me that two were more than enough. Sometimes when I eat fast, my stomach is slow to inform me that, "Hey! I've had enough, down here!" The cinnamon swirl French toast is one of those things that is easy to devour when you're hungry at breakfast.
Katie's Kitchen isn't just another breakfast/lunch diner that proliferates the landscape across Chicagoland and the Midwest, as a whole. It's one of those little neighborhood restaurants where the staff knows the regulars by name. The service was fine, the menu was extensive and many of the offerings are very unique. I'd wholeheartedly recommend Katie's Kitchen as a fine place to get breakfast in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago.