The Dish: Cafe Pettopia


Will Davis

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.

Just off of Green Bay Road in Highwood lies a small, quaint, old-school breakfast place called Cafe Pettopia. Cafe Pettopia is a cozy, secluded restaurant located in a small strip mall with a few other restaurants. Breakfast and lunch are what the cafe prides itself on. The cafe serves a selection of traditional breakfast foods like omelettes, french toast, pancakes and even frittatas. It has garnered lots of adulation and praise on Yelp with consistent four and five star ratings. Customers have continually raved about the “crispy potatoes” and “healthy serving sizes.” In addition, many yelpers have also expressed admiration for how quickly the food is brought to the table and how nice the employees are. Curious and excited, we arrived at Cafe Pettopia in order to see if all of these claims were warranted.

Affordability: 7/10

The bill at Cafe Pettopia came in at $24.13 for a pretty large sized breakfast for two. We ordered a small stack of pancakes (which is comprised of two huge pancakes), a ham and cheese omelette that came with potatoes and toast, and an orange juice. The serving sizes for the omelette and pancakes were plentiful without being overbearing. The omelette was very large and was stuffed full with ham and cheese. The pancakes were massive and, in our opinion, were definitely worth the price. Cafe Pettopia was one of those places where at first the menu looks pretty averagely priced but once you receive your meal you fully realize the value of the restaurant. Large serving sizes paired with pretty solid prices led to a solid affordability rating.

Environment: 6/10

Cafe Pettopia is located in a pretty standard looking strip mall in north Highwood. For those who know of the restaurant Lovell’s, it is located in one of the sections of strip malls close to Lovell’s. We wouldn’t say it really pops out at you as you’re passing by due to the fact that it’s sign is rather small and there isn’t much in the way of curb appeal. After walking into the restaurant, we observed a cute, small, and quaint dining area with tables lining both walls and the middle of the room. On all tables were flowers and the tablecloth was also a nice shade of yellow and lined with flowers as well. There were a few pictures hung around the place of the restaurant when it was older and other things similar to that but they seemed to have more sentimental value as opposed to being an attempt to add charm and flair to the restaurant. Overall, the environment of Cafe Pettopia was pretty customary to that of a breakfast place. From the outside it is pretty difficult to find the restaurant enticing and engaging but once you get inside, most will probably be surprised with the charming personality that the restaurant has.

Food Quality: 8/10

The portion sizes we received from Cafe Pettopia surprised us more than anything during our visit. Pancakes, omelettes, and potatoes have high standards in the North Shore and we put Pettopia’s up to the test. We ordered Banana Pancakes to spice it up from the plain Buttermilks and were pleasantly surprised. The Pancakes were thick and creamy with individual slices of banana built inside of them. That said, they also could’ve used a little more time cooking with patches of undercooked batter and even with syrup added, the banana flavor continued to overpower the rest of the entree. It wasn’t drastic enough to change my opinion on the entire meal but pancake lovers should hesitate before adding fruit to their pancakes for 95 cents. It may have been the bananas, but the Pancakes were more filling than anything else we ordered. The giant omelette was stuffed with individual slices of ham that made it savory until the last bite. The quality of the ham was most definitely high with its tasteful feel. Sided with potatoes, this entree was the perfect combination for a classic breakfast meal. The eggs were fluffy as well, giving them a smooth, luscious taste. Lastly, “Mike potatoes” were big and crunchy, a delectable side to perfect the meal.

Service: 6.5/10

With only one server on staff, Cafe Pettopia did a mediocre job of hosting us. Upon our arrival we were greeted by one employee that seemed surprised to see us at 7:45am on a Wednesday morning. He informed us that one of their workers, “Mike” was taking a trip to the store to get more food. And, that we could sit at whichever of the 14 tables we wanted to. This disappointed us in the sense that the cafe was not prepared for any customers that may have came before us. But, with us being the first customers of the morning, it was us that faced this problem. Nonetheless, after ordering our meals immediately we were served in just under 8 minutes. Also, as our trip at Cafe Pettopia wore on we became more understanding and even impressed by our waiter. He was very nice, paid constant attention to us and got us everything we needed. Overall, we were provided satisfying food from a friendly employee which helped offset the unprepared vibe we initially received.

Rating: 2.75/4 spears