Not to get all Oprah on you, but I love brunch. I. Love. Brunch!
I know what you’re thinking, and no, it’s not because of the whole portmanteau thing, although I do love a good word mash-up, and it doesn’t get much better than a combination of the best parts of breakfast + lunch (but please, stop trying to make “lunner” happen — it is NOT a thing).
I love brunch because it’s a great use of my time. I’ll meet up with friends, or hang out with family, on a lazy, late weekend morning, preferably with a French 75 in my hand and some delicious permutation of eggs on order. No point in having breakfast on a brunch day. I can spend that found time working out, trolling social media, or, best of all, sleeping in.
It’s also the perfect excuse to sample something sweet, like a gooey cinnamon roll or crumbly ginger scone. A thick slab of Stuffed French Toast, or a precarious stack of Heavenly Hots, drizzled with real maple syrup? Yes, please. But, my taste buds are big on equal opportunity for ALL the flavors. Fried Chicken and Waffles (with more maple syrup and a little hot sauce), or an everything bagel piled high with lox and cream cheese? You bet. Bring it on. Gild that lily with a few choice brunch cocktail offerings and a really good cup of coffee, and you’ve got me as a customer for life.
74 W. Illinois St., Chicago, 312-527-5586
Chef CJ Jacobson brings a California sensibility to Mediterranean food (think fresh veggies and Middle Eastern spices) at this River North Lettuce Entertain You resto. I can’t get enough of their Charred Eggplant spread ($8.95) with house-made yogurt, lemon, and excellent olive oil, served with house-made pita. The Blueberry Clafoutis ($12.95) hits the sweet spot in every sense, a happy marriage of almond pancake with plump fruit, sweetened yogurt, tart lemon, and pistachios. Even the Egg White Frittata ($12.95), filled with spring veggies and pecorino cheese, is worth eating here, virtuous though it may be. And what kind of Ottolenghi-crazed gourmand would I be if I didn’t order the Lamb Shakshuka($13.95), all spicy yumminess and sunny baked eggs? Finish with the Grapefruit Brûlée, topped with caramelized demerara sugar and cinnamon. Brunch served Saturdays and Sundays from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
1962 N. Halsted St., Chicago, 773-248-3000
Some days, the East Coast calls. And when it does, I head here, to savor the Smoked Trout Frittata($10.95) with crème frâiche and pickled mustard seeds if I’m feeling eggy, or the Original Seafood Roll($24.95), chock-a-block with chunks of Maine lobster, Alaskan king crab, shrimp, celery for crunch, and a little lobster mayo to bind it together. The Fried Oyster Benedict ($13.95), spiced up with tabasco butter, is a solid option, as are the Steamed Maine Mussels & Fries ($17.95) in a well-seasoned lobster-tomato broth with aioli. To drink, you pretty much are duty bound to order the Cape Cod ($9), don’t you think? Especially since the cranberry juice is made in house, and mixed with vodka (of course) and a cardamom-honey syrup (surprise!). Brunch served Fridays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.