By Jennifer Arndt • BocaJump community writer
Al’s Café has been one of my favorite local restaurants since the very first day I discovered it over 5 years ago. I happened to be in the area one day and stopped in to see if I could get a coffee to go. As you may know, Al’s isn’t really a grab and go kind of place, but they were very accommodating and even gave me a free cookie! Little did they know that simple gesture of a free cookie would bring me back time and again, turning me into a true Al’s regular.
I have so many fond memories of Al’s starting with that first visit and that delicious chocolate chip cookie. Over the years I’ve tried nearly everything on the menu and have made Al’s my destination for a wide variety of events. I’ve had casual business meetings at Al’s, taken my parents and in-laws there, spent lazy afternoons sipping wine on the patio and have celebrated Valentine’s at Al’s for the past 3 years going on 4! Every year Al’s offers a very special Valentine’s menu that reads like those cute little candy hearts. This year I’ll probably be ordering the Mon Cherie followed by the Pillow Talk topped off with the Chocolate Stairway to Heaven.
The unique Valentine’s menu will only be offered for three days in February. On Saturday the 12th, Sunday the 13th and Monday the 14th from 4 to 9 pm. Diners will be treated to a romantic candle light dinner and the ladies will go home with a special treat of handmade truffles courtesy of Chef Tony. While some of the appetizer and entrée menu items are similar to what you’ll find on the everyday dinner menu at Al’s, there are some special features you’ll only find during the Valentine’s weekend. As you peruse the menu you’ll notice a delightful array of temptations such as the Mon Cherie, an appetizer of pan-seared scallops “romanced” with a delicate herb cream sauce and pine nut bruschetta. Or try the Double Date, jumbo shrimp steamed in garlic wine butter and served up with a “double date” of cocktail sauce and garlic aioli. Entrée selections range from Black Angus Steak to Salmon Filet and everything in between. I’m trying to decide between the Pillow Talk, butternut squash ravioli tossed in a brown butter sauce with sundried tomatoes “dreamingly” finished with Asiago cheese. Or maybe the Cupids Arrow, sea scallops “speared” in Pinot Grigio with garlic, tomato and mushrooms mixed with fettuccini, spinach and Padano cheese.
All entrees come complete with your choice of a small garden salad or soup plus you’ll also enjoy some wonderful fresh baked bread. Hopefully you’re saving room for dessert and if you don’t have room, get it to-go or make another reservation to come back again this weekend for dessert! You simply must try one or two of the amazing Valentine’s desserts at Al’s. My personal favorite is the Chocolate Stairway to Heaven. This amazing creation is a chocolate banana cheesecake wrapped in filo pastry dough then lightly oven baked and drizzled with hot fudge and caramel plus topped with fresh whipped cream. My waist line should be thankful this is not on the typical menu at Al’s! It’s simply amazing and a must-have treat, just once a year! I should also mention all La Terre wines are just $4 a glass … now that’s something to love!
Al’s Café is located in downtown Elgin at 43 DuPage Court. Reservations are recommended for Valentine’s and can be made by calling 847-742-1180. Grab a sweetheart, a friend or your family and be prepared to be pampered this Valentine’s. I promise you’ll be welcomed with a smile and you’ll leave feeling like you’ve been hugged!