LTH Home

Eating along the shore

Eating along the shore
  • Forum HomePost Reply BackTop
  • Eating along the shore

    Post #1 - April 29th, 2007, 10:48 pm
    Post #1 - April 29th, 2007, 10:48 pm Post #1 - April 29th, 2007, 10:48 pm
    Along the Chain of Lakes are restaurants and taverns little known to people who casually travel through. These restaurants along the shore are often embedded in neighborhoods with little to no signage guiding one there.

    One does not casually go to Reflections On Deep Lake previously reported here. Your first time is either guided by a loyal customer or by word-of-mouth recommendation with a very good, very local map. You will not likely drive into a residential neighborhood expecting to find a restaurant.

    While not on the Chain of Lakes and very definitely within Chicago's boundaries is Club 81, Too. This place was identified by Erik M. who saw the Streets and San's Guy mention of it on Chicago Tonight a few years ago. The very first time Erik M approach Club 81, Too, I was on the phone offering MealStar assistance. Club 81, Too on Wolf Lake near the Indiana border is in an area riddled with railroad embankments with few points to cross. A second visit with Erik and Rene G was simplified by Rene G's knowledge of bus routes. You will not casually find Club 81, Too embedded in a residential neighborhood giving a visitor no hint there could be a restaurant and tavern there. You need a map, then plan on a few route changes when the street unexpectedly dead ends.

    In Fox Lake, one of my favorite shore restaurants is Docker's reported occasionally here. If you turn toward toward Pistakee Lake at the Dairy Queen, then you will find Docker's. This may be one shore restaurant where you may find it by chance.

    I called a friend in Grayslake asking for new recommendations for shore dining. She drew a blank, so I googled 'Chain of lakes illinois restaurants,' then selected Fairmont Shores in Lake Villa for promising smelt and hand breaded fish filets on their website. I obtained from the linked mapping program instructions to the restaurant, which proved to be absolutely lousy with road designations unreconizable to our waitress. Only by shear gut instinct did we decipher enough to locate the street guiding us into the residential neighborhood. Turning in the direction of Fairmont Shores was a sign advising dead end. Without my internet search or recommendation of a local, Fairmont Shores would not be casually located.

    We sat on the deck in tall chairs in bright sun without an umbrella due to winds off the lake. We ordered hushpuppies with melted butter dipping sauce as an appetizer. We uncharacteristically snarfed a number down before realizing no picture had been taken.

    Image

    We tried their smelts accompanied by their good coleslaw and so-so French Fries. My only quibble was my desire for more smelts.

    Image

    Their similarly priced Southern Fish Fry of hand breaded Pollack had more generous portions, coleslaw and optional Cajun potato wedges. Both potato options were so unexceptional, one would be better off asking for more coleslaw instead.

    Image

    The least satisfactory selection was the Jimmy Burger: 1/3 pound charbroiled hamburger cooked to medium by choice. Burger was topped with ham slices, sauteed mushrooms, double-cheese, grilled onions and Jimmy's Special Cajun seasoning. After a few bites, I noticed my friend was scrapping off the mound of add-ons until it was simply a hamburger and bun. While it was a bit ambitious, it was hard to wrap your mouth around or keep dripping condiments from challenging the next laundry day.

    Image

    On our visit, there were maybe a dozen motorcycles in the parking lots. Most bikers were at one table having a great time razzing each other. There was a biker couple at another table who treated us to a bit of trumped up drama when handed the bill, "What? How can this be $20, I only brought $10! Isn't this half-priced drinks? Did I come on the wrong day? What dishes do you want me to wash?" The young waitress was absolutely unflustered while calmly explaining, "You must be thinking of another place. We don't have such an offer." This guys wife or date was visibly cringing. How everything played out was not known because everyone went inside for discussion with the manager.

    Image

    Fairmont Shores
    37641 N Lake Shore Dr
    Lake Villa, IL 60046-8250
    847-587-1900
    http://www.fairmontshores.com/

    Hours*
    Tuesday-Thursday: 4 p.m. to 1 a.m.
    Friday: 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.
    Saturday: 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m.
    Sunday: 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m.
    Closed Mondays
    * Kitchen closes nightly at 10 p.m.

    If there are other hidden restaurants along any shore in the area, please advise them here because these places are not easy to find.

    Thanks!
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #2 - April 30th, 2007, 6:58 am
    Post #2 - April 30th, 2007, 6:58 am Post #2 - April 30th, 2007, 6:58 am
    One of the strangest places in the area is the Mineola Hotel in Fox Lake. The hotel is a ramshackle wooden turn of the (last) century resort that was built in 1884, and has been closed for decades. However, the bar and grill at the back of the hotel, which overlooks Fox Lake, is still operating (at least it was about a year ago). The food is nothing special, but it is adequate. They serve the much sought after "1930s style" burgers and have a popular Friday night fish fry. The main attraction there is the musty antique ambiance and the view. Supposedly Al Capone ran a gambling operation there in the 1920s. The bar is owned by the adjacent marine repair shop, so under the glass that covers the tables are dozens of pictures of wrecked boats.

    It is not an easy place to find (at least by land). It is located down a hill behind a newer townhouse development off of Forest Ave (off of Grand).


    Mineola Restaurant & Banquet
    (847) 587-2777
    91 Cora Ave
    Fox Lake, IL 60020
  • Post #3 - April 30th, 2007, 7:05 am
    Post #3 - April 30th, 2007, 7:05 am Post #3 - April 30th, 2007, 7:05 am
    Hi,

    These are precisely the places one just cannot find without someone telling you it is there.

    It will be cool to see one of those grand resort hotels built to accomodate the people from Chicago.

    Thanks!

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #4 - April 30th, 2007, 7:23 am
    Post #4 - April 30th, 2007, 7:23 am Post #4 - April 30th, 2007, 7:23 am
    C2,

    Hushpuppies with butter, smelt, Southern fried fish and outdoor lakeside seating. Cathy, I do believe you've done it again!!

    Terrific pictures, lovely post.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    Hold my beer . . .

    Low & Slow
  • Post #5 - April 30th, 2007, 9:21 am
    Post #5 - April 30th, 2007, 9:21 am Post #5 - April 30th, 2007, 9:21 am
    G Wiv wrote:Hushpuppies with butter, smelt, Southern fried fish and outdoor lakeside seating. Cathy, I do believe you've done it again!!
    Cathy2,
    Sorry, I was so eager to tell you about the Mineola, I forgot to comment on those gorgeous pictures. I especially enjoyed the hushpuppies shot. Even though they are not the healthiest thing to eat, I really like hushpuppies. I wish more places made them, but I guess they are much harder to make than fries. Often times, they are almost blackened on the outside yet still raw in the middle, or they lack the thick crunchy skin that keeps the interior steamy and moist. Were the puppies at Fairmont Shores of the denser, heavy on the cornmeal variety, or the lighter floury fritter-like style?

    I used to spend some time up in that area, and went to many of these kinds of places. Like you said, I was introduced to most of them while fishing with locals. Because these establishments were primarily built to be accessible by water, the land-side approaches are usually very obscure. Often they are located at the end of narrow dead-end residential streets. Some of those communities look straight out of old Holiday Magazines. You have motivated me to contact some old friends, and revisit some of these hidden joints (if they still exist), maybe starting with the Friday fish fry at the Mineola (if they still have it).

    dave
  • Post #6 - May 1st, 2007, 7:40 am
    Post #6 - May 1st, 2007, 7:40 am Post #6 - May 1st, 2007, 7:40 am
    d4v3,

    Whatever hidden shore restaurants you locate, I hope you will report back. Even if it is a list of places you have never gone to, then it will give me and others more places to check out this summer.

    Those hushpuppies were probably in the middle range of what you like. It wasn't as cakey as some, though it wasn't a dense cornmeal ball. My ideal hushpuppy has bits of minced onion and more seasoning than these. I had never had melted butter offered either, though it was quite fitting.

    Thanks!

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #7 - May 11th, 2007, 11:25 pm
    Post #7 - May 11th, 2007, 11:25 pm Post #7 - May 11th, 2007, 11:25 pm
    HI,

    At the kind recommendation of d4v3, I took Mom2 to visit Mineola Restaurant.

    Mineola was built as a private club by five members of the Chicago Board of Trade in 1884. It was expanded and renovated in 1903 for use as a hotel. The Mineola has a 240-foot long porch, 100 rooms and may be the largest frame structure in Illinois. According to an article in Catch the Action (summer 2007 edition) this building has been compared to Nassau's famed Victoria Hotel as well as the Grand Hotel of Mackinac Island.

    Upon arriving to the Mineola, there is a large parking lot for the banquet facility:

    Image

    There is a small road adjacent to the Mineola bringing you to the lake. The Grand Ballroom on the porch level and tavern-restaurant below at lake level are still in operation. The hotel section on the 2nd and 3rd floors has long been abandoned with broken windows, some old furniture and, according to an employee, ghosts.

    Image

    The bar is a gathering place for locals who walk, drive or arrive by boat.

    Image

    If you are lucky to arrive when the Mineola ballroom is open to allow you to have a peak, then go downstairs for a drink would be ideal. I wasn't fortunate to see the ballroom, though I am really curious how it may look. I am not entirely optimistic about its condition from observing the condition of the bar-restaurant or the hotel's broken windows. The repair of windows costs so little compared to the structural damage caused by their neglect. Especially when you are using the remaining structure. Fox Lake's 4th of July fireworks are orchestrated around the Mineola staged from a barge on Mineola Bay.

    Image

    At d4v3's advice, I stuck to the 1/2 pound hamburger for a mere $5. There was an upcharge of $1.75 each for French fries and sauteed mushrooms. I ordered my hamburger medium rare, it arrived thoroughly cooked.

    Image

    Mom2 ordered an Italian beef that arrived largely cold. It returned steaming hot from the microwave. The beef was so miserable, she abandoned it to simply eat her juice soaked bread. It reminded me of a rock bottom moment in a book I once read. The waitress didn't even ask how we felt, she volunteered to take the Italian Beef off the bill.

    Image

    While the Mineola may not be destination dining. I do believe a visit to have a drink and look around is worthwhile. Unlike the Hotel Florence in Pullman that is now an inactive historic site. The Mineola is still a functioning member of its' community.

    Mineola Restaurant
    91 Cora Drive
    Fox Lake, IL
    847/587-0771

    Mapping programs send you somewhere else, I was advised:

    From US-12 (IL-59 N) going north

    Turn right onto E Grand Av (CR-A20)

    Turn left onto Forest Ave

    (this is where the mapping programs fail)

    Just over the top of the hill is Mineola Road that takes you to your destination.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #8 - May 12th, 2007, 8:10 am
    Post #8 - May 12th, 2007, 8:10 am Post #8 - May 12th, 2007, 8:10 am
    The Mineola looks even more run down than the last time I was there :( . I asked a friend when that was, and he said it had been about 3 years (I thought it was more recent). Frankly, from the look of your pictures, I am surprised it is still standing. I always react with sadness and dismay when I see the state of the place. It is unfortunate because it is such a wonderful historical building, and there should be more interest in preserving it. It could be such a great destination, if anybody cared (and had 2 million bucks to throw at it).

    In my experience, the food was never very good, but it seems to be even worse now. I guess I was stretching it by calling it adequate, sorry. It does seem much better after a day of fishing and beer drinking. I do feel a little guilty about your mom's beef sandwich (tell her I owe her one). However, I did say the place was strange, not good. The building is really the main reason to go there. There was also another place at the end of Forest Ave, which I believe is now a Mexican restaurant.

    I have an old book that was published by the CBOT in 1900 to celebrate the new century. I am pretty sure it has a picture of the Mineola from back then. I will dig it out and look for it. Do they still have the display cases with artifacts found around the hotel?
  • Post #9 - May 12th, 2007, 9:00 am
    Post #9 - May 12th, 2007, 9:00 am Post #9 - May 12th, 2007, 9:00 am
    Whenever I read a review of any of these roadhouses and obscure lake tavern/restaurants in the hinterlands of suburbia and S. E. Wisconsin, they are invariably plugged as a former haunt of Al Capone. I give the guy credit for finding the time to visit all of these joints. :P
    What if the Hokey Pokey really IS what it's all about?
  • Post #10 - May 12th, 2007, 9:20 am
    Post #10 - May 12th, 2007, 9:20 am Post #10 - May 12th, 2007, 9:20 am
    Cogito wrote:Whenever I read a review of any of these roadhouses and obscure lake tavern/restaurants in the hinterlands of suburbia and S. E. Wisconsin, they are invariably plugged as a former haunt of Al Capone.
    If I remember correctly, the Mineola used to display what they claimed to be one of Al Capone's hats in a case. I am not sure what the supposed provenance of that was. I do know the hotel was a gambling and party destination during prohibition. In the 1970's they held winter motorcycle races in the parking lot.

    I guess the current owner was stuck with the place when he bought the marine repair shop. It has landmark status, so he can't tear it down (the land would be worth millions), but he can't afford to restore it either. It is, almost literally, a white elephant. A little research revealed that last year, the owner sought a TIF designation for the restoration of the hotel portion of the property as part of a development project for 382 condos in two 12 story towers to be built next door. I couldn't find any updates.

    update: I found a recent business plan for the property by a real estate development group.
    http://gglandgroup.com/prop_mineola.aspx

    From the looks of the plan, they will turn the hotel itself into 18 condos. The developers are planning to aquire the property for $15 million. No wonder the current owner is completely neglecting the building.
  • Post #11 - May 12th, 2007, 3:34 pm
    Post #11 - May 12th, 2007, 3:34 pm Post #11 - May 12th, 2007, 3:34 pm
    Hi,

    You don't owe Mom2 (really my best friend's Mom when I was growing up) a sandwich. She calls me her WTTW: Windows to the World for my willingness to take her places. We enjoy each others company and watching the people. While I cannot recommend the food, it certainly was something to see.

    I found the Illinois Historical Society gave the owner a Centennial Award for the buildings 120+ years of continuous operation. When he received this award in 2004, he had owned the building since 1943. He acquired the Mineola from the Howard family who had acquired it in 1900, then expanded it and opened the hotel. This gentleman has to be quite ancient and if he is still an active manager, then is very unwilling or unable to address the building's problems. I have the gut feeling once he has met his maker, then there will be rapid changes good or bad.

    There is a website on penny postcards with an early 20th century photo of the Mineola Hotel. If you compare the old image to today, then you find the porch wasn't just for the Grand Ball room level. The porch was two stories. Where the odd peaks today were once dormer windows perhaps with a small porch or railing. In the right hands, this place could be a jewel once again.

    I live in a neighborhood of older homes. It is a lucky home that still has the original porch. Often when they fall into disrepair, the wrap around porch is simply removed. Part of the problem is finding people to repair a porch at a reasonable price. Lately I have seen several homes have their porches returned using old photos as guides.

    I'm going to return every so often hoping the ballroom is open or maybe arrange to check the site when the catering manager is available.
    d4v3, thank you for advising about this place. I wouldn't have been there without your information. Again, thanks!

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #12 - May 12th, 2007, 4:30 pm
    Post #12 - May 12th, 2007, 4:30 pm Post #12 - May 12th, 2007, 4:30 pm
    Mr. Peter Jakstas, owner of the Mineola hotel and marina, made a presentation to the Board on a proposed development project for the Mineola hotel property. Mr. Jakstas stated that after many years of attempting to restore the historic Mineola hotel property, he had decided that this was no longer financially possible for him as a private owner and has decided to sell the hotel and property to developers. The developers have proposed tax increment financing (TIF) status for the hotel building only, to pay for restoration of the historic building. The remainder of the proposed development, 382 condominium units, would not be subject to tax increment financing and would be subject to full payment of impact fees and property taxes.
    Was this the same owner?

    Here is a 1908 postcard that is up on Ebay right now. It shows the original staircase from the porch down to the water (probably located over the present entrance to the bar). It looks very grand indeed.

    Image
  • Post #13 - May 13th, 2007, 8:01 am
    Post #13 - May 13th, 2007, 8:01 am Post #13 - May 13th, 2007, 8:01 am
    HI,

    The very same Peter Jakstas.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #14 - March 6th, 2008, 11:37 pm
    Post #14 - March 6th, 2008, 11:37 pm Post #14 - March 6th, 2008, 11:37 pm
    When I was a kid we used to ride our bikes in the trails behind the hotel before the condos where built. Wow, talk about some cool trails! It was a kid's paradise!

    As for the winter motorcycle races that someone mentioned, it was on the ice, not the parking lot.

    And who remembers when they made the hotel a haunted house on Halloween? They took us through the first two (or three) floors and every room. I still remember how scary it was! I remember being chased by a werewolf with chains...nothing will ever top that experience. There was even a man that came out of a piano...I was so scared I couldn't scream. I think it was even featured on WFLD news.

    And who remembers the beer can collection Peter used to have? If you could catch him at a good time, he'd trade cans with you. About 15 years ago I flew from California to Illinois to see friends and I went back there to see if I could buy the collection (mainly because Peter had cans he traded with my late brother and I wanted to get those into my collection). Sadly, the collection was in bags and wasn't much to look at anymore (my collection blew his away). As a kid, I remember his can collection being so awe inspiring, but later learned it wasn't all that I thought it was.

    It's sad to see it all fading away, but I guess if the land sells Peter will be very rich.
  • Post #15 - July 14th, 2008, 11:05 pm
    Post #15 - July 14th, 2008, 11:05 pm Post #15 - July 14th, 2008, 11:05 pm
    Hi,

    Last week I went to Lakeside Inn and Eatery (formerly The Grand Hotel) in Wauconda. I returned over the weekend to seek a restaurant on the shore. I began by circling Bangs Lake looking for hidden treasure.

    My Mom was our eagle eye noting there was a nice building with lots of cars below as we drove through Wauconda's downtown. We returned and drove down between some retail buildings to find a newly renovated restaurant edging the shore. While the interior space had vaulted ceilings and a glass enclosed fireplace guaranteeing a winter return. We were really attracted to the outdoors where they had two seating areas: one with a bar, televisions and music with an adjoining porch location along the shore for a quiet meal.

    Sitting on the porch, you look onto a small beach with docked boats. I ordered a steak sandwich cooked medium rare that was cooked as promised, dressed with onions, mushrooms and cheese, it needed something to perk the flavor. The Moms ordered 'BBQ' pork sandwiches, which was braised pork shoulder in sweet BBQ sauce. While the food was passable, the location and holiday feel made it worthy to return sometime soon.

    Lindy'S Landing Inc
    200 N Main St (you access via a driveway between two retail buildings - very easy to overlook)
    Wauconda, IL
    Phone - (847) 526-9789
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #16 - July 15th, 2008, 7:13 am
    Post #16 - July 15th, 2008, 7:13 am Post #16 - July 15th, 2008, 7:13 am
    Just last weekend the family and I had a lovely dinner at the Boat House in Kenosha. We sat on the porch overlooking the docks.
    I wasn't in picture-taking mode, but had a huge plate of DEEE licous smelt,
    which they obligingly served with a side of steamed veggies to assuage my fried fish guilt instead of fries, (and I'm just not much of a fry girl unless it's those frites I had at Brasserie Haussman- but thats another post...LOL)

    However had I known- my sons had something on the side they called tumbled onions which were divine- they were super thin very lightly dusted fried onion strings-
    now THEY were worth the calories...

    The hub had a combo walleye perch plate- very good
    one son had a burger which looked good and the other had
    some other type of fried fish that looked good that he wolfed down.

    Daughter had shrimp and basil pesto on angel hair which she loved and took most of home, the portion was so huge.

    We also had apps of mozzarella sticks (standard) and escargot- go figure they love them- which were great- hot and garlicky with nice parmesan bread crumbs on top-and the escargot were NOT overdone!

    Summer shandys on tap (and a really nice selection of other drinks on tap including root beer) and a light lake breeze made for a perfect meal.

    Afterwards we took a leisurely stroll past the Lighthouse, then down to Simmons Island beach.

    I'd recommend it....
    http://www.foodspot.com/boathouse/
    "If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay home."
    ~James Michener
  • Post #17 - May 22nd, 2012, 2:08 pm
    Post #17 - May 22nd, 2012, 2:08 pm Post #17 - May 22nd, 2012, 2:08 pm
    Mineola up for bid on e-Bay

    More information in this Daily Herald article: http://www.dailyherald.com/article/2012 ... 705039976/
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #18 - May 28th, 2012, 9:15 am
    Post #18 - May 28th, 2012, 9:15 am Post #18 - May 28th, 2012, 9:15 am
    Hi,

    Mineola's existence is in days and months. If you want to see this ghost hotel, better now than never.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #19 - September 2nd, 2019, 8:33 am
    Post #19 - September 2nd, 2019, 8:33 am Post #19 - September 2nd, 2019, 8:33 am
    At least as of mid-July, the Mineola still hasn't sold; however the bar closed and the building is empty, as reported in this Daily Herald article:
    https://www.dailyherald.com/business/20190711/historic---and-haunted-fox-lake-hotel-for-sale-again

Contact

About

Team

Advertize

Close

Chat

Articles

Guide

Events

more