Panera’s transition from Market Plaza and a parking lot that gives me nightmares, down the road to a much more accessible drive-thru location is about to be upon us. For those that fancy themselves a soup and a sandwich, this is music to your ears. The new drive-thru Panera is located right across the street from Danby’s Station and can be accessed from Roosevelt Road or from Nicoll Way.
Both the new Panera and Glen Ellyn’s newest downtown bar, McMae’s on Main, will be opening this month. In fact, the new drive-thru Panera will be opening up tomorrow, December 15. I’m very excited to pull up for my first half-soup, half-sandwich with broccoli cheddar and a turkey avocado club, all while sitting in the comfort of my car.
As for McMae’s on Main, they will have their work cut out for them as the newest establishment to enter the old Wooden Barrel location. That location has seen many different forms over the past 15 years, from Firkin & Fox, to Tap House Grill, before finally fading away as Wooden Barrel. Hopefully McMae’s can come in and break the cycle. McMae’s Taern & Grill has been well received in Bartlett, and if owner Greg McCaffrey follows the same formula this should be another welcome addition to Glen Ellyn’s downtown scene.
At first glace of their Bartlett menu, I’m already a fan as “Wings” is the first item listed. I am a self-proclaimed connoisseur of wings so this could make or break my McMae’s experience right off the bat. The wing sauces include your familiar choices of Mild, Hot, Fire, BBQ, Spicy BBQ, Teriyaki or Garlic Parmesan. I eagerly await the challenge of the Fire wing.
The rest of the appetizers on the menu are pretty typical bar fare, not that there’s anything wrong with that. While your standard appetizers are all there, one selection that stands above the rest and will be the first one I order is the Jalapeno Shrimp: “Jumbo Tiger Shrimp and a slice of jalapeno wrapped in bacon and coated with BBQ sauce, then grilled to perfection.” I’m sold.
The rest of the menu includes your standard selection of soups and salads, then a typical burger menu, and finally there are a few items left for the “Entrees” and “House Specials.” While it may not look like much, according to a story the Daily Herald did in 2013, McMae’s may be more impressive than the menu would lead you to believe:
“Everything on the menu at McMae’s is made in house and you can tell. The chips and salsa make a great starter, with plenty of big, thick and crispy chips served with a bright red, solidly spicy dip. The mini-filet sandwiches are the most popular dish on the menu, served on fluffy buns with a choice of sides. All the meat is cooked to order, and the kitchen staff takes medium rare seriously, cooking the tender beef on the red side. You can smell the garlic fries coming to your table. They’re done perfectly, hot and crispy on the outside and fluffy inside. The southwest steak salad is also a great pick, with plenty of mixed greens, corn, tomato, beans and tortilla strips topped with chunks of steak. Of course, if you are craving a more traditional bar eat you can find that too with wings, nachos and burgers.”
In the entree section of the menu we have “Ribs” with the description “slow cooked flavor that speak for themselves.” We will see McMae’s, we will see. I do like the confidence of the short and sweet description. There is also a “Chicken Parmesan” meal, and a “Chicken Broccoli and Shells” meal. As far as I’m concerned, if the ribs are good, they don’t need to offer much else.
Finally we come to the house specials, and here’s where McMae’s hopefully cements itself as more than just a bar. After reading these three items, I’m excitedly intrigued. First is the “Filet Medallions,” which includes two 3 oz. medallions topped with either garlic butter or bleu cheese, served with mashed potatoes and a roasted vegetable mix. If executed correctly, this will be delicious. Next is the “Pot Roast,” a pretty typical looking pot roast but again, if done well this is a welcome addition to the menu. Lastly, there is the “Homemade Manicotti,” and I continue to love the confidence McMae’s displays when describing this item:
“Bottom line…this will melt in your mouth. Our homemade manicotti noodles are stuffed with four cheeses then baked with our signature marinara sauce and covered with our special blend of cheese. Served with freshly baked garlic bread.”
If that meal lives up to it’s description nothing else on the menu needs to be any good.
Now after reviewing the whole menu they’ll probably come up with a brand new one for this new location.
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