On this one, the expectations were higher. 1776 Restaurant in Crystal Lake is fine dining. The kind of place you probably want to get a reservation if you're headed at a busy time of day.
That's why we chose lunch, with less chance of running into a huge crowd but plenty of time to enjoy ourselves. We headed in on a recent rainy Friday afternoon and were shown to our seat quickly.
We started with drinks, a water for me and a Firestone Walker "Nitro Merlin" Stout on draft for my fellow diner. Then we heard the Soup of the Day, which was changed from the menu in front of us to Lobster Bisque, and we couldn't have been happier.
That was the easiest part of ordering, with each of us getting a cup ($6 apiece), which came to the table first, arriving soon after the bread.
They offer a ton of options to start, Nosh as they list it. And from coconut shrimp to crab cakes ($13) to filet tip kabob ($16), they sound amazing.
But we couldn't have been happier with the choice of soup, which had plenty of lobster chunks and was one of the best cups I've had.
Next was the main course, which for lunch means sandwiches, salads or 10 lunch features that range from $14 to $19 and are anything from salmon or trout to jambalaya or wasabi fried chicken breast.
My fellow diner selected the Bison Burger ($17) with American cheese while I went back for more lobster with the Lobster Club Sandwich ($17).
Wow, was it delicious. Again, it had a liberal amount of lobster with a homemade aioli and bacon, lettuce and tomato. The bison burger was about as good of a burger as you'll have. We took our time to enjoy it, along with the steak fries.
But we weren't done just yet, as we took a look at dessert and also ordered a cup of coffee ($3.50) each. They offer everything on the Conscious Cup menu in a cool local collaboration.
As for the dessert, I picked the raspberry cheesecake ($7.50) while my fellow diner ordered the coconut cream pie ($7.50). Wow, what a meal. Too bad I couldn't head home for a nap afterward.
The dinner menu has several additional items, mouth-watering ones such as wild game trio ($49) with mashed potatoes and the center cut pork chops ($22 or $28).
You can just tell that 1776 knows quality, starting with the ingredients. The farm-to-table restaurant utilizes local vendors and farmers for its products, careful picking who it works with to bring in only the best.
And it shows in the results. For a special dinner out, this is the place you want to go.
• The Mystery Diner is an employee at the Northwest Herald. The diner’s identity is not revealed to restaurant staff before or during the meal. The Mystery Diner visits a restaurant and then reports on the experience. If the Mystery Diner cannot recommend the establishment, we will not publish a review.
WHAT: 1776 Restaurant
WHERE: 397 W. Virginia Street (Rt. 14), Crystal Lake
WHEN: 4:30 to 10 p.m. Monday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday, 4:30 to 11 p.m. Saturday, closed Sunday
INFORMATION: Call 815-356-1776 or visit 1776restaurant.com.