Pockets – Aurora, IL
One of the big things J and I miss about Lansing is its proximity to Howell. We frequented the Kensington Valley Outlets quite a bit. It’s pretty disappointing that the closest outlet to Kalamazoo is either Michigan City or Holland.
Since we were heading to Chicago, we stopped at Lighthouse Place in Michigan City yesterday, but today, we decided to make a trip out to the west suburbs to the Chicago Premium Outlets in Aurora. Before that though, lunch.
I, of course, scouted out a few places near the mall. One place I found was a bar/microbrewery that bears the late, great Walter Payton’s name. The other was a a regional sandwich chain.
P0ckets is on Orchard Road in Aurora south of I-88 in an area with a few strip malls and big box stores. The chain is local to Chicago right now, but they did recently open up some franchise opportunities. All but two of the stores are in the City of Chicago. Nearby Naperville is the city with the other store.
Like I mentioned, Pockets is in a strip mall with a number of other food options. There is a Pizza Hut Express next door and a Panera two doors down. In fact, I was picking up Panera’s wireless signal because the one at Pockets was locked.
The ordering system is like a fast food joint. You place your order at the counter then take a seat and wait. The dining area is small and contains only four or five four tops and three or four two tops along a narrow hallway. The fountain machine is by the door and right next to that is a Keurig coffee machine. Interesting idea.
The menu is centered around the “Pockets,” but they also have calzone’s, salads, and soups. The pockets are similar to a pita bread, but more bread like and a little bit thicker. Neither of us chose one of their many creations.
Instead, I went with the Original Calzone. To my surprise, the calzone is made fresh. After I put the order in, the sandwich maker pulled a piece of dough off a large log and rolled out a circle by hand. She then filled it with bacon and pepperoni which were my two choices for fillings as well as the mozzarella and marina that come standard. When I got the creation, it didn’t so much look like a traditional calzone. Instead of folding the dough over the ingredients, they kind of pulled it up to the top and pinched it together. The idea was the same it just looked a little different. The bread is made with a mix of whole wheat and white grains and it’s pretty thick after it’s baked. There was a lot of the bacon filling inside and some big chunks of pepperoni. the cheese they use is 2% “sprinkle” cheese. While marinara is not traditional to a calzone, this is one of the few that it comes inside. It is also served with a marinara on the side. The shell was very crunchy and there was a lot of filling in each bite. I didn’t have high expectations. We ended up choosing Pockets for J, but I was pleasantly surprised by the size and quality.
J wanted to go to Pockets because she wanted a salad. She ordered the Spinach, Berry, and Almond salad. She opted for the small size, but found out that small was more than enough. The salad is a bed of shredded spinach which she said was an interesting choice. It actually made eating the salad a little bit easier than trying to wrestle with big leaves. The almond’s were slivered and sprinkled on top and the berries are dried cranberries. There is also feta cheese and the dressing is a balsamic vinaigrette. She was impressed with not only the size, but the freshness of the ingredients. The salad was more than enough, but to make things better, it came with a warm slice of one of their Pockets. She used what was left of my marinara to dip in, but even on its own, she said it was delicious and sort of wished she had gotten a sandwich.
Our check was just a little over sixteen bucks. While there are many sandwich shops out there, Pockets does things just a little differently. As a carnivore, it’s not something I would crave, but it’s a place that I would gladly stop in with J again.