Cafe Olympic has been a downtown Crystal Lake staple since 1984.

But with new owners late last year came a new look and some changes. So we went back to see how those were going.

The outside and inside still look mainly the same, the coffee ($2.50) came out hot and quick, but the first big change was apparent right away.

The menu has many of the same things, a lot that's new, but is now simplified into breakfast and lunch two-sided single laminated sheet menus with a list of specials as well. I, for one, appreciate it being concise.

We were in just before noon on Wednesday and we found a booth quickly. The big question was breakfast or lunch?

There were everything from omelettes to skillets, pancakes, french toast, Benedicts, crepes and combos on the breakfast menu. But we were both feeling lunch.

We ended up picking items off the super sandwich menu. I chose the Monte Carlo ($11), while my fellow diner had the tuna melt ($10).

I chose the tomato basil soup, while my fellow diner had the french onion and we both picked fries.

Simple enough, and the warm cups of soup came out quickly. It was clear right away from our stop that appearance had taken on added significance for the diner. The menus have new, attractive fonts and graphics, and one of the new owners was in one of the front booths working on taking the perfect cellphone shot of a sandwich.

If you're wondering what the food looks like, there are a ton of photos on the restaurant's Facebook page. In fact, I'm looking now and see a slice of key lime pie I wish I'd ordered yesterday.

I digress.

But the changes also include, as of Jan. 1, a liquor license that means Olympic Cafe now serves everything from mimosas and bloody marys to craft beer in cans or on tap. This was a mid-work lunch, so we didn't go there.

Our soups were both excellent and the sandwiches followed soon after.

The tuna melt was on point – what you would expect but nothing you wouldn't. They keep it simple and straightforward with tuna salad and American cheese on grilled white bread.

The fries were crispy and seasoned just right, but not overly seasoned.

The Monte Carlo, which is turkey, ham and Swiss cheese between two slices of french toast hit the spot while filling me up. There were liberal layers of turkey and ham along with the sweet goodness of the large brioche french toast.

After we were done with our main course, my fellow diner had the bold idea he wanted one of the fresh baked cinnamon rolls. But, alas, they were sold out.

Our waitress, whose name was pretty close to a famous singer's name, told us that they come fresh on Fridays and go quickly. So early Saturday morning is one of the best times to snag one.

Duly noted – so you might see me in downtown Crystal Lake on a beeline to try one soon.

• 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.


WHAT: Cafe Olympic

WHERE: 90 N. Williams St., Crystal Lake

WHEN: 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekends

INFORMATION: Call 815-459-4100 or visit

The Monte Carlo includes turkey, ham and Swiss on brioche french toast.
The Monte Carlo includes turkey, ham and Swiss on brioche french toast.