The Dish is a multimedia food review segment co-produced by Will Davis and Carter Horan. Each week, they will travel to a North Shore restaurant to try, discuss, and evaluate the eats on in and around Lake Forest.
Five minutes north of Lake Bluff Elementary School lies a unique restaurant that dedicates itself to serving one of a kind cheesesteaks as well as a create-your-own cheesecake experience. C.Y.O.C (Create Your Own Cheesecake and Cheesesteak) has two locations, one in North Chicago (2314 Green Bay Rd) and the other in Waukegan (2114 N. Greenbay Rd). This restaurant has a great reputation with its 4.5/5 stars on Yelp and many positive reviews. Some go-to menu items, according to their staff, include their Philly Steaks/Chickens topped with their special sauce and choice of cheese. They also offer a variety of cheesecake flavors such as original, chocolate, strawberry, pineapple, Oreo, and many others. It is a possibility to mix and match the cheesecakes with the wide variety of toppings that are offered at the restaurant. C.Y.O.C. is a very popular spot for people who are stationed at the naval base and they really make sure to emphasize that with special deals geared towards service men and women. After hearing so much about the place, we were very excited and we made the trek north.
C.Y.O.C is known to be a bit more affordable than most sandwich shops. A basic Philly Cheese Steak sandwich costs $5.79 with an extra $2.45 to include fries and a drink. Its competition, Subway, also serves a Philly Cheese Steak but for $8.95. This justifies C.Y.O.C’s affordability for a quality sandwich. The entire meal with fries and a drink contains a lot of food for one person. We both finished our sandwiches but did little damage to our fries. The cheesecake prices range from the different flavors, but an average of $4 for a scoop of cheesecake can break the bank for the $10 your mom gave you for lunch. If you’re really about cheesecake then give it a shot, but if you’re on a limited budget, it may not be worth it.
The Environment at C.Y.O.C was average to most “Fast Casual” restaurants surrounding Lake Forest. They were equipped with background music playing today’s radio hits to brighten the mood of the restaurant. Tables and floors were clean, showing that the restaurant was managed and well maintained. One unique characteristic of the restaurant was the writing on the walls from customers signing their names and Instagram usernames to recognize themselves. We believe that one downfall comes with the C.Y.O.C name. It doesn’t catch the attention of customers and make them excited to eat. As you’re driving on Green Bay Rd. you won’t notice C.Y.O.C if you’re not looking for it. Chain fast food restaurants like Wendy’s and Burger King sit adjacent to C.Y.O.C and their large signs will catch your attention more so than the modest C.Y.O.C. sign. I would most definitely recommend other students to go out and try C.Y.O.C. It’s good to leave the Lake Forest bubble and try other restaurants besides Chipotle, Meatheads, and Potbelly every weekend.
Food Quality: 8.5/10
After a brief look at the menu, we both decided that the deluxe cheesesteak was probably the most popular item on the menu. The sandwich was lined with peppers, onions, mushrooms and your choice of cheese. In order to get the full experience we both upgraded to the meal option so we could try their fries and also get a drink. After receiving the food and taking a bite, both of us were very impressed with the texture of the steak as well as the “special seasoned sauce” that was drizzled on top. The sauce was a huge factor in the distinct taste of the cheesesteak. The fries were pretty average and didn’t really excite us too much. We noticed that there was a little bit of seasoning on the fries, but it was way too little to really make a difference in the taste. After finishing up, we decided to get the original flavored cheesecake. As stated by the name, the cheesecake is also a large aspect of C.Y.O.C. so it was definitely necessary to at least give it a try. The only thing that we would have changed in regards to the cheesecake was the texture. It seemed a touch dry, but other than that, the flavor was outstanding. Overall, C.Y.O.C. left a really good impression on us and we highly recommend it to other students at the high school. It’s an out of the ordinary experience and the food was delicious.
The service was above average, but nothing too spectacular. The workers made sure to greet you as you came in and say goodbye when you left. One thing that we noticed was the workers asked customers if they enjoyed the food as they exited. In addition to employees that were pretty nice, the food was prepared quickly and got to the table less than 8 minutes after we had ordered. That was very impressive and definitely one of the more positive things about the restaurant. The fact that the food was quick and everyone who worked there was nice and hospitable made us very pleased.
Overall Rating: 3 SPEARS (out of four)