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Entries in ice cream (4)

Friday
Jul222011

The Ice Cream Diaries: The Dairy Hut on Main in Oswego

You know the old saying. If you can’t stand the heat, you might as well just eat ice cream. So it’s a perfect day to welcome back one our personal favorite features from last summer, “The Ice Cream Diaries.”

Photo by Tara Burghart.Name: The Dairy Hut on Main

Address:  121 South Main Street in Oswego

Hours: Summer hours are Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 12:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Note that those hours become more limited once summer is over and it closes entirely in the winter. To make sure you’re not making a trip that might end in disappointment, call 630-554-6800.

Good For: Anyone who likes ice cream – or a slice of Americana.

The Experience: The Dairy Hut in Oswego is located on Main Street, and that’s perfect, because it seems as American as apple pie – even if that’s a weird comparison to make for an ice cream shop.

Once known as the “Dari-Boat,” this tiny ice cream joint has been around since the 1960s. While you place your order and pick it up inside, the seating is all outdoors, much of it under an awning that provides good shade.

The Dairy Hut services soft ice cream – vanilla, chocolate or twist – and it’s one of the least expensive spots I’ve visited recently. A small cone is $1.65. A “kiddie” cone is just 50 cents. If you want to get a bit more fancy, you can order sundaes, shakes floats, smoothies and “tornadoes” (like a DQ blizzard). If you bring your pup along, you can order a "Doggie Dish" for him.

But the Dairy Hut also offers food: Burgers, hot dogs, pork tenderloins, Italian beef, French fries and various other cheesy or fried items. I didn’t say it was a health food store, did I? A 1/3 pound burger will cost you $3.30.

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Friday
Aug272010

The Ice Cream Diaries: Gramp's in St. Charles

It’s been a tough couple of years for Gramps. Gramps as in Gramp’s Frozen Custard in downtown St. Charles.

Imagine you. Here. Eating frozen custard. Photos by Tara Burghart.The First Street Redevelopment Project meant that the area surrounding the shop was usually filled with more orange cones and detour signs than pedestrians.  A couple businesses in its shopping plaza have closed since construction started, and I’ve spoken to at least one owner of a shop on Main Street who blamed the project for eliminating her walk-in clientele. (She’s since closed her doors.)

But a major part of that redevelopment project has been completed: A string of retail shops (topped by offices and a parking garage) that is drawing a crowd of shoppers and diners to the area just west of the Fox River south of Main Street.

It looks like the change has been very good for Gramp's, which is located in a shopping complex called Fox Island Square, just kiddy corner from that new retail development. My family visited at about 9 p.m. on a Friday night, and the place was very busy. It’s a good thing, too, because Gramp’s serves some creamy, delicious frozen custard.

The shop is decorated with antique glass milk bottles, cow statues and other dairy-related paraphernalia. It has wooden tables and chairs with wrought-iron backs like you might see in an old time soda-fountain 100 years ago – plus a miniature table and chair set for young children.

Gramp’s usually offers several flavors each day, and about two dozen topping choices. When we were there, the flavors were vanilla, chocolate, brown cow (a chocolate and vanilla mix), a caramel and Oreo mix  and pomegranate. You can get them in a cone or cup, or a selection of waffles bowls and cups. A single scoop in a cone or cup will cost you $2.69 and two scoops $3.09; a bit pricy, but the scoops are generous.

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Monday
Aug092010

The Ice Cream Diaries: Graham's Fine Chocolates & Ice Cream

I have a confession to make. I like soft serve ice cream. I love frozen custard. But my heart really belongs to regular, traditional ice cream. Preferably in a sugar cone.

Graham's front patio is filled with Adirondack chairs. Photos by Tara Burghart.So that makes Graham’s Fine Chocolates & Ice Cream one of my favorite spots in the Fox Valley. Many of you have probably already been there, but for the few who have not, it’s a spot to put on your must-do list before summer ends. Although Graham’s remains open year round, your first visit should really involve humidity, ice cream, napkins and one of the shop’s signature white Adirondack chairs.

Graham’s is located in a 140-year-old house on Geneva’s Third Street, a short walk from the Metra station. It’s been in the current location for about 20 years, but actually opened in 1987 kiddie-corner across the street, in the Berry Shops.

The store is owned by Robert Untiedt, a former music teacher, and his wife Beckie, a musician. Their backgrounds probably explain why you’ll often seen flyers for cultural and music-related events hanging in the store, which is decorated with antiques and memorabilia.

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Tuesday
Jul202010

The Ice Cream Diaries: Hinckley's Dairy Joy Drive-In

I have an assignment for you, and it’s a tasty one. Next time you have a couple of hours free, and are looking to enjoy not only a good ice cream cone but a taste of vintage Americana, get on Route 30 and head west. When you reach the Dairy Joy Drive-In, order yourself some soft serve ice cream, maybe a sandwich and fries, too. And then ask to speak to the owners, and tell them you are glad places like theirs still exist in the world.

 
Photos by Tara Burghart.My family and I drove out to the small farming town of Hinckley last weekend for the latest installment of the Ice Cream Diaries. As soon as I had heard the name Dairy Joy – in an Aurora-area visitor’s guide, I believe – I knew it had to be on the list.
 
Hinckley is about 15 miles west of Aurora, so it took us a bit of time to get there from Geneva, but it did not disappoint. Dairy Joy has been around since 1957, but the current owners Wyn and Jan Wahlgren have owned it for 19 years.
 
The building does indeed look like it was pulled straight out of a 1950s Coca-Cola magazine advertisement. You can order at the walk-up window, or you can head inside and order at a window there.

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