Foodie needs recs on cocktails and brunch
Will be in Chicago for 3 days and want to know what's new on the cocktail scene. Is there anywhere doing drinks to the level of Audrey Saunders at the Pegu in NYC? Also, need a new brunch recommendation. I have been to the Bongo Room several times and find it to be ok and am looking for somewhere else. I own a wine shop in Boston and am curoius how Juicy wine bar is?
There are tons of places all over Chicago to do brunch. Asking where to do brunch, without specifying a location or any other qualifier, is like asking where you can find a nice dinner. There are literally hundreds of places where you can find a nice brunch, in the city and suburbs.
Places in the city that are known specifically for their brunch (like the Bongo Room is in Wicker Park and the South Loop) include: Kitsch'n in Roscoe Village and in River North; Orange in Lakeview and the South Loop; Wishbone in the West Loop and on N Lincoln; Flo in Wicker Park; and M. Henry in Andersonville. Most of them are busy for brunch, with long wait times.
Fine dining restaurants in the city that serve brunch on Saturday and/or Sunday include NoMi, Seasons, Frontera Grill, and North Pond. The Ritz-Carlton recently stopped serving in the Dining Room, but they are continuing their highly-regarded Sunday brunch in their Cafe. I haven't been to the Sunday brunch at the Signature Room at the 95th, at the top of the John Hancock Building; their food is not generally all that highly regarded, but on a clear day, you can't beat the view.
In the northern suburbs, Walker Brothers is known for their stained glass and their huge baked apple pancake.
And these answers just scratch the surface.
Metromix is the entertainment website of the Chicago Tribune. Their guide to articles on brunch places is at http://metromix.chicagotribune.com/di...
Links to related websites:
Bongo Room - www.bongoroom.com
Kitsch'n - www.kitschn.com
Orange (no website AFAIK)
Wishbone - www.wishbonechicago.com
Flo - www.eatatflo.com
M. Henry (no website AFAIK)
NoMi - www.nomirestaurant.com
Seasons - www.fourseasons.com/chicagofs/dining....
Frontera Grill - www.rickbayless.com/restaurants/grill...
North Pond - www.northpondrestaurant.com
Ritz-Carlton - www.fourseasons.com/chicagorc/dining....
Signature Room at the 95th - www.signatureroom.com
Walker Brothers - www.walkerbrosoph.com
I ate brunch at Bongo Room yesterday, and was delighted as usual. I always enjoy eating breakfast/brunch at *all* these places, especially ones I haven't been to in a while. What I like about the breakfast menu is that I can get sweeter items (pancakes, French toast) when I'm in the mood for that, and savory items (eggs/omelets, bacon) when I'm in the mood for that. One thing I love about Bongo Room is that they can do a split order for you - IOW, even though their pancakes and French toast normally consist of three pieces, you can order a smaller portion size of one or two pieces at a reduced charge. That way you can try more than one menu item. Yesterday I was in a mood for sweeter items, so I had a blueberry cheesecake pancake topped with almond panna cotta cream - that was HEAVENLY - and the strawberry-mango brioche French toast, which was very good, too. And during the week, there are no concerns about long lines.
Incidentally, for whatever reason, Bongo Room's website is down right now, but you can see their menu at http://chicago.menupages.com
Orange now has a website at www.orangerestaurantchicago.com
They have closed their location in the South Loop, but in addition to the original location in Lakeview, have opened additional locations in River East (Grand at Halsted/Milwaukee), Roscoe Village (Roscoe at Damen), and Lincoln Park (Clark at Fullerton). They are about to open two new locations, in River North (Clark at Superior) and in north suburban Glenview (Glenview Road west of Waukegan Road).
for brunch, I have two recommendations. For a Sat brunch, go and try Frontera Grill; all of his best lunch items are on there, plus some huevos rancheros, etc. for a Sunday burnch, travel to Sweets & Savories on Fullerton. It is nicer than others and reaosnable. three courses for $16, includes: coffee/tea and homemade pastries, appetizer two to choose by the week, entree (have to try the duck hash and the bacon breakfast egg risotto) and get a side of bacon. It also includes one cocktail and they make a mean mimosa and even better, sometimes, if you're lucky, a bellini with fresh pureed mango or some other exotic fruit.
I had brunch at Sola this morning, and I thought it was very good in all respects - food, atmosphere, and service. The Sunday brunch menu was very similar to the one on their website.
Additional note number 1 - no long waits. Granted, this was a frigid morning. However, it is a good-sized place and I doubt that they ever get long waits. Furthermore, Sola takes brunch reservations, and you can make reservations there on opentable.com which lets you see what time(s) they have available. All easy as pie.
Additional note number 2 - The street address of the restaurant is 3868 N. Lincoln, but don't look for it on Lincoln or you'll drive right past it. The restaurant entrance (as well as all of its visibility) is on Byron, the side street.
3868 N. Lincoln Ave. @ Byron
Chicago. IL 60613
I disagree with Tony's remarks about the previously-mentioned places for brunch, the ones in the second paragraph of my post. Based on my experience, they all continue to serve excellent food. However, as I already indicated, these are places (just like the Bongo Room mentioned by the OP) well-known PRIMARILY for their brunch, and as a result, their waiting times can be as much as an hour or more at peak times. There are plenty of other places that are not as well known and/or which take reservations, so there's no need to wait a long time unless you absolutely *must* go to a particular place. In fact, Metromix did an entire article about where to go nearby when you find that one of those popular places has a long waiting time: http://metromix.chicagotribune.com/di...
And as I also mentioned in that post, the listing there just scratches the surface (even accompanied by the posts since added by others). Metromix lists 375 places serving brunch, and over 100 of the ~300 places that take reservations in opentable.com had openings for brunch this morning.
I have not found any place in Chicago that does cocktails at the level Pegu in NYC. If anyone knows of a place like that in Chicago PLEASE say so.