Could you eat a Kitchen Sink? Could you handle two bananas, six scoops of chocolate, strawberry and vanilla ice cream, plus chocolate sauce, pineapples, strawberries, chopped walnuts and whipped cream, topped with a cherry? It serves at least two so it's OK to grab a spoon and share.
This giant sundae is not the only item on the menu at Colonial Cafe in St. Charles. But it's certainly the most famous.
"Day in and day out, in every restaurant I go into and out of, the Kitchen Sink is on display and they sell themselves," said Kate Obernesser, Colonial Cafe's director of operational support and head of research and development. "It attracts guests' eyes and they all talk about the ice cream. 'How much do you think is in there?' 'Do you think we can eat it?' 'There's so much food!' We have never had a complaint. Everyone who eats one thoroughly enjoys it."
The Kitchen Sink will celebrate its 40th anniversary this year, and Colonial Cafe itself marks 115 years, starting as a dairy milk route and eventually growing into ice cream and dairy stores, and then full-service restaurants specializing in comfort foods.
The two locations in St. Charles have very distinct personalities. The St. Charles-East location on Main Street resembles a family restaurant, while the St. Charles-West restaurant is "urban contemporary," with LED lighting "in the clouds," as Obernesser calls it.
The St. Charles-West location, down the street from the seven-unit chain's corporate headquarters, is also the company's R&D test restaurant. A Mardi Gras menu being tested here — rolling out Jan. 15 through Feb. 9 — features Bananas Foster French Toast, Shrimp Po'Boy Sandwich, Mardi Gras Jambalaya, Creamy Cajun Pasta or a Fried Pickles appetizer. Try any Mardi Gras item and complete a survey and receive a free mini sundae.
"We test all new recipes and ask guests for feedback," Obernesser said. "What our guests say really matters. We go back and read all of them and roll them out to all restaurants if it's a success. If it doesn't work, we'll try again. So customers may try items that are only tested there and it doesn't go anywhere. Our guests are very honest and we can't improve if we don't know."
Obernesser works with company president Clinton Anderson, great-grandson of Colonial Cafe founder Simon Anderson, to develop new recipes.
Depending on the time of year, guests might find pumpkin pancakes, chicken pot pie or varieties of macaroni and cheese. Pulled pork macaroni and cheese was a recent favorite, Obernesser notes, and lobster macaroni and cheese is rolling out in the spring. "People don't think of foods like that at Colonial Cafe, or that families would tend to go to places that might serve that."
You might say, everything and the Kitchen Sink.
Pricing: Breakfast: Skillets, classic Benedicts, yogurt parfaits, oatmeal, three-egg omelets, eggs and meat breakfasts, pancakes, crepes, French toast and waffles, ranging from $6.49 to $13.99. Lunch and Dinner: Appetizers, soup and chili, classic dinners, specialty sandwiches, black Angus burgers and salads, ranging from $4.59 to $13.49. Desserts: Colonial Chippers, Turtle Sundaes, Five-Scoop Creations, shakes, ice cream sodas, fruit smoothies, Kahuna Crunch, pie, banana splits and sundaes, ranging from $4.19 to $9.19. "World-Famous" Kitchen Sink is $14.99 and includes a bumper sticker.
Hours: Open 6 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 6 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday.
Address: St. Charles-West, 552 S. Randall Road, St. Charles. Plus six other locations throughout the suburbs: St. Charles-East, Algonquin, Aurora, Crystal Lake, Elgin and Naperville.
Contact: 630-443-8338 or visit www.colonialicecream.com.
Shonda Talerico Dudlicek is a freelance writer.