Des Plaines diner offers hearty, filling breakfast

July 29, 2011 (DES PLAINES, Ill.)

"Gail's" is as familiar to Des Plaines breakfast fans as "Danny's" is to Highland Park hot dog aficionados. Quite simply, any mention of the name conjures instant images and memories. But with respect to the breakfast and lunch diner, size is of utmost importance.

For nearly 20 years, Gail Janczak has been filling her customers up in the mornings in the restaurant that bears her name along Elmhurst Road with a steady diet of hearty, made-to-order dishes. There are no exotic, imported ingredients there, no cardamom cakes or dulce de leche crepes. It's just simple, honest omelets, pancakes and French toast.

"We have the best food and the best staff and we care about all our customers and we feed them well," said Janczak.

That's an understatement. Just take a look at their apple pancake. When pulled from the oven, it's warm, sweet and certainly filling.

"It's done with fresh apples, lots of cinnamon, lots of sugar and our special batter. And a large apple pancake can feed almost six people," said Janczak.

But if Gail's had a signature item, it would most certainly be the Spud Omelet, a creation made by accident after some messing around in the kitchen.

"We decided to put our shredded hash browns down on the grill first, cook them, and then we top them with several different ingredients. We have like eight spuds on the menu. And then on the weekends, we always do a special one," Janczak said.

After the veggies are cooked into the hash browns, shredded cheese and cooked eggs are placed on top. Then the sides of the hash browns are scooped and lifted up to enclose the eggs, forming a starchy barrier.

Nine kinds of French toast are offered there. After getting dunked in an eggy, vanilla-laced batter with a hint of cinnamon, diners could get a drizzle of Kahlua followed by a deep, dark berry compote.

"We use our large bing cherries, strawberries, blueberries and raspberries," she said.

The price-to-portion ratio is impressive. With few exceptions, most dishes hover around eight bucks. When you consider the Fred Flintstone portions, and that you're going to be consuming all that starch, flour and egg, you just might need a nap.

"You can nap in the parking lot, but we need the booth for more people," said Janczak.

The restaurant opens at 7 a.m. every day serving both breakfast and lunch until 2 p.m. And on Sundays, it's until 3 p.m. Gail's is located at 1145 Elmhurst Rd, Des Plaines, IL 60016.

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