Brunch last Sunday with my friend Aileen at her favorite place for Sunday brunch: Bakin’ & Eggs on Lincoln, south of Belmont. There was no champagne and there was only one strip of bacon, but I survived. So will you. (There’s bacon IN the waffles.) So get out there on this Sunday and get your brunch on. (Did I just say that?)
The amazingly so-good-but-so-so-bad ham and egg sandwich at Frontier on Milwaukee, one of my locals. I probably shouldn’t be eating this. But I don’t plan on eating again until somewhere around midnight (this will all become clearer shortly), so I am justifying it all.
I like Frontier. I like the menu. I like the service. I hate the volume of the music at times, and the ladies room is designed for people with no knees. But otherwise, I’m glad to have it around. Especially early on a Saturday when my cupboards are, once again, bare.
Happy weekend, everyone.
Ooh, I’m way behind. I blame the airlines. And Design Star on HGTV. And my cousin George, who was in town for all of six days and managed to completely redecorate my apartment, rearrange my kitchen cabinets, and fix anything and everything that has bugged me since I moved into this damn place nearly exactly a year ago. (Who knew the top rack of my dishwasher was adjustable?) Exhausting, all of it.
I tried to entertain George food-wise, but here’s what I learned: he’s a picky eater. He likes Red Bull. And cookies. And pretzels. And could happily survive on all that for breakfast and lunch. I think he also likes Chinese food, but I denied him his second take-out in the hopes I could convince him to go to Ruxbin. Denied. More in a bit.
Paris Club, River North: I made reservations ages in advance at Paris Club, and the charcuterie — for two — was pretty damn amazing. However, it should have been labeled “For two very large Americans” or “For four plus-sized French people” because it was really way too much food even for our table of four to do justice to. Our server was fantastic: I spilled a glass of wine all over myself (Long Island girl, talking with her hands) and he brought me a replacement glass, no problem.The atmosphere at Paris Club is very lively, but in a “What? What did you say??” kind of way. Finally to the food…my ahi tuna main dish was pretty disappointing. Too salty.
I’ve been thinking about salt lately and have to list it out as one of the main differences between eating in the US vs. eating in the UK. Everything in the US is sooo disgustingly salty. And we wonder why we have high blood pressure. (I’d also say it’s because we don’t walk enough.)
Randomly…I went to use the ladies’ room at Paris Club on the main floor and there were six girls in line. For one toilet. Good times. About 10 minutes in, a staff member told us that there were more loos downstairs, but by that point I was next. I ended up using the men’s room, and you know what that’s like. The Verdict: Out. There are things I want to like, but that salty main dish was just too much. Oh, and my cousin George would like you to know that he and my friend Matt were two of the only men in the dining room at 8 pm on a Friday night. Odd.
Gilt Bar, River North: I went to Gilt Bar nearly exactly a year ago when I first arrived back in Chicago, but for some reason never wrote about it. Although I would like it better if I could see my hand in front of my face while I’m eating (flashlight, anyone?), I do love the food here. My truffle pasta was the dish that kept getting passed around the table. I also really like the music at Gilt Bar; they played The XX, only one of my fave albums of 2010. (OK, OK it came out in 2009 but still.) Great cocktail bar downstairs…all very chill and mellow.
Feast, Bucktown: I asked my cousin what he likes to eat for breakfast. He says — and I quote –“I’m not really a breakfast person.” You can guess where this is going. Every morning, I would wake up, make breakfast for myself, eat it, and then he would say, “What are we doing for breakfast?” Ahem. As we were up abysmally early on Saturday, so I thought we’d try for The Bongo Room. Let me point out two things. It was Saturday — not Sunday — and we arrived at 9:15 am. 9:15! They had been open 15 minutes!! And told us that we’d have to wait 30 to 45 minutes for a table. 30 to 45 minutes! So we went to Feast instead and had some pretty luscious peach and blueberry challah French toast. This place totally needs a lick of paint and our table was too wobbly for its own good, but those are minor quibbles in the face of a breakfast this nice.
The Boundary, Wicker Park: George wanted to eat outside, so I pulled up along Division and suggested Prasino. He ix-nayed it because it “looked too healthy” so instead we made our way to The Boundary, where we watched the cars go by as we snacked on some burgers and tomato soup. Everything was fine here. PS Did you know there are no parking meters on the main stretch of Division? (OK, not meters but that green machine ticket-y thing. You know what I’m talking about.)
Pizza Metro II: I wanted to go to Ruxbin. George wanted Chinese. We compromised on pizza because I wanted a salad. Hah! This place is more a take-out place than anything else. We brought home our 1/2 potato (him) and 1/2 pepperoni (me) pizza, along with my salad, and enjoyed it in front of HGTV. George said, “Yeah, this wasn’t really that great.” I would concur. Fine, nothing special. Could have used a better more bubbly crust.
I have more coming up…Blue 13, GT Fish & Oyster, Prasino, and um I decided to go to London for the weekend last week so there’s that too. Brace yourselves.
Date of Last Visit: Sunday, April 10, 2011
The Victim: Julie
The Damage: About $25 each. Beers.
The Background: Sunday April 10th was a GORGEOUS day in Chicago. Over 80 degrees. Amazing. It made me momentarily forget the Blizzard of 2011 that kept me trapped in my apartment with a German exchange student for three days, forcing me to skip my work trip to Israel and head straight to Dubai instead.
I tried to get Julie to buy some proseco or champagne and sit in Wicker Park with me and eat strawberries. Maybe if we closed our eyes tight enough, we could pretend we were in Hyde Park (London) or Hampstead Heath. Somehow, this didn’t work out and we ended up at The Southern for a late brunch.
LATE brunch. Which for me, makes it time for real food…real food, not breakfast food. Sadly, The Southern was only serving their brunch menu. Which means I couldn’t have their regular mac & cheese — the dish they’re most famous for — I had to have their breakfast mac & cheese instead. (I tried people. I tried.)
The breakfast mac & cheese arrives and it is soupy. Don’t let the smattering of breadcrumbs up top fool you. The rest of it is just cream of some sort. Soupy soupy cream. (The menu lists the ingredients as smoked gouda, andouille sausage,toasted bread crumbs, and scrambled egg.) I scoop up the sausage and the scrambled egg, but the mac & cheese itself is a disappointment to mac & cheese everywhere. (Which will only become clearer when I have the best macaroni and cheese I’ve ever had in my entire life when I hit Spuntino in London at the end of April. Mac & cheese in London of all places!)
I got most of it to go and take the rest home and with the help of Twitter, I improved upon it.
The Verdict: Everyone loves The Southern. I should probably give it another shot. But not so impressed right now. Sorry dudes.
Date of Last Visit: Sunday, April 17, 2011
The Victim: Joe aka Chicago Food Snob
The Damage: $20 each
The Breakfast: I am a bad American. I’ve never been much one for big American-style breakfasts and brunches. Waffles and pancakes and all that. If given the choice, I would happily have Chinese food for breakfast every morning. Or roast chicken. This is why the UK suited me so well. Sunday roasts!
But when fellow Chicago food blogger Chicago Food Snob suggested we meet up for brunch at Jam, I of course said yes because firstly, he is Chicago Food Snob and secondly, Food & Wine magazine voted Jam’s Malted Custard French Toast as one of their best dishes of 2010.
I did not order the French toast because it sounded a bit too dessert-y for my liking. (I was catching up on No Reservations on my flight back from London yesterday and was glad to hear Tony B announce that he too is not a huge dessert fan and is more a savory person. See I’m not crazy.) Instead, I opted for the Spanish Omelet, with chorizo, roasted peppers, melted onions, garrotxa Cheese, and fingerling potatoes. For $1 extra, I added white anchovies.
It was a pretty little omelet of manageable size. The chorizo was excellent; my only wish would be for larger chunks, as the chorizo was diced up quite small.
All-in-all, this was very well done. A very good breakfast indeed. One complaint would be that they don’t put salt and pepper on the tables and I would have liked some salt for both the potatoes and the omelet. Then again, I probably could have asked our server and I didn’t. Lazy beans.
Service: Antipodean (we don’t get many around these parts) and quite nice.
The Verdict: Nice.
Date of Last Visit: Sunday, February 20th, 2011
The Damage: $15
The Background: Bunny and Brandy were kind enough to ask me to be their third wheel for brunch the other weekend. I was kinda hoping they’d let me pick a name so I’d fit in. Baby? Bailey? Bella? Barbie?
This was a distracting game I played with myself as we waited for our table. And waited. And waited. And waited some more. I think we were at about 40 minutes of waiting before they called out “Brandy? Party of three?” Waiting outside in the drizzle. Because Over Easy is super small. But thoughtfully of them, they do provide free Julius Meinl coffee as you wait.
Ah America, this is why you’re fat. My order of Sassy Eggs came tarted up like a drunk girl on Mardi Gras, loaded down with strings of salsa, parsley confetti and well, a whole lot of guacamole. My stomach churned a bit at the thought of partaking in the two eggs over chorizo-potato hash with cheddar cheese, red peppers, jalapenos, guacamole, sour cream, & ancho ketchup.
I would have liked more chorizo.
And I also would have liked the dish HOT. My sassy eggs had lost their sassiness ages ago. Tepid, at best. Sad.
The Verdict: Too long a wait, too cold a dish, too much STUFF. Call me a purist.
Lovely company though! We’ll have to do it again soon, ladies!