If you've been around Crystal Lake long enough, you know The Cottage. You've probably eaten a meal or two there, maybe hung out and had a few beers, too.
On a recent Thursday night, that was us. The Thursday special is 49-cent wings, so as we arrived we arrived that was the first thing that we picked out.
It was around 7 p.m., so the place was pretty full. The patio area wasn't open, as a pretty crazy rain storm was headed into town. We sat at a table not far from the bar and had some peanuts while we waited.
My fellow diner is a bit of a neat freak, so I left a few of the peanut shells on the table just to see the reaction. All in good fun, but be aware there are peanuts all over inside. If you happen to be allergic, it's probably not the spot for you.
If you like burgers, though, you'll do well here. We ordered a couple of beers, a Blue Moon and a Revolution Anti-Hero.
I then ordered a few bourbon-flavored traditional wings and some sweet chili boneless to get us started.
Then, it was a choice between burgers for me. I picked out the Wild West burger ($9.95) because it sounded the best and was highlighted on the menu as a specialty. It's a half-pound patty topped with barbecue sauce, an onion ring, cheddar cheese and bacon.
There also are plenty of side options, with fries, tots, homemade chips, coleslaw or veggies for the regular price, and cheese balls, sweet potato fries, garlic parm fries, a side salad or onion rings for a $2 upgrade. I went with the cheese balls, which are about the same size as tots, only it's breading filled with cheese almost like a cheese stick, only more of a gooey middle and smaller. They came with a ranch dipping sauce and that combination gets a thumbs up.
The burger was definitely the highlight, but the wings were pretty good, as well. I'd recommend the boneless over the traditional, at least on this trip.
My fellow diner ordered the turkey bacon wrap ($8.99) with fries and rated it as really good. They certainly didn't skimp on the turkey.
I'll have to try out a sandwich on my next stop, maybe a reuben, grown-up grilled cheese, prime rib or steak sandwich, or an Italian beef. If you know how those taste, drop a line at Lifestyles@nwherald.com and tell me.
We didn't have room for dessert, but I saw someone who did and they had picked out one of the Julie Ann's Frozen Custard mason jars, which include graham crackers and a brownie ($4.95).
It looked like a meal by itself. Another option to try out at a later date.
• 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 story.
If you Go
WHAT: The Cottage
WHERE: 6 East Crystal Lake Ave., Crystal Lake
WHEN: 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
INFORMATION: 815-459-7520 or thecottagepub.net