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Breakfast takes its place on the dining food chain

Artisan ingredients, creative combinations make morning meals marvelous

Published: Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013 11:29 a.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, Dec. 30, 2013 3:43 p.m. CDT

Kick starting the day has become increasingly experiential. While most mornings remain a monotonous plodding of essential tasks to prepare for the day, that tedium can be broken by a surprising and satisfying breakfast. And as chefs and foodies alike embrace the most important meal of the day with the same enthusiasm once reserved for dinner, our taste buds are reaping the benefits.

Donna Hesik owns Suzette’s Creperie in Wheaton, the result of a love affair with French street food.

“It all started with a trip to France. It all started in Paris,” she says, explaining that she became entranced by vendors selling crepes from outdoor carts and thought that people in the United States should experience that also. “I was a street vendor for three years selling crepes – 16 years ago – and that’s how I got started. It was like a dream… It was so much fun!”

Later Hesik opened her restaurant in Wheaton and quickly decided that her restaurant would serve French food but with an American twist.

“In France they don’t have a big breakfast.” Hesik explains, “They’ll just have a coffee, juice, and a pastry like a chocolate or a plain croissant or a crusty piece of French Bread with butter. Since we’re in America you have to have eggs and French toast and we make ours with croissants. How can you go wrong with a chocolate croissants made into French toast?

“Our restaurant is brunch with elegance.” Hesik continues, “You can come in and relax and have a three course meal. Our dining experience is about making people feel special. You’re not going to run in and run out. You’ll catch your breath and then treat your mom or girlfriends or husband or wife. We’re just creating a place for someone to do that.”

If you prefer the savory to the sweet, consider some signature menu items: Suzette’s Benedict, French scrambled eggs and both savory crepes.

If Suzette’s Creperie is about traditional French elegance, Il Poggiolo in Hinsdale has its sights set on innovation.

“A lot of our brunch items have an Italian theme to them,” says co-owner Dana Burdi. “For us, we wanted to have something indicative of our cuisine, but something that’s fresh – with fresh ingredients Burdi recites a list of her favorite omelets and skillets with the same vigor as if she were describing her own children: Quattro Formaggi, Salsiccia, Padella Pollo. She was sure to mention Il Poggiolo has a sweet side too, “Pancakes and waffles that are Italian based. Ricotta pancakes and tiramisu waffles. Instead of French toast we have Italian toast and it’s made with ciabatta bread.”

Yet as cutting-edge as the breakfast menu may be, the ambience of Il Poggiolo remains warm and inviting, like a family gathering on a late Sunday morning.

“Everything is made custom in house. We’re not a big chain – we pride ourselves on innovative cuisine. “

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