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BATTER UP! The Winchester sells about 800 waffles a week in dishes such as the blueberry preserves-topped ones ($9) served at brunch.
Morning Gloriesby Lisa Shames | Men's Book Chicago magazine | May 27, 2016
Remember when most chefs treated brunch as a dreaded chore? Recently, it’s become a different story with big-name toques all over town taking the same amount of care with the first meal of the weekend as they do later on at dinner. Getting out of bed just got a whole lot easier—and tastier too.
When this Central European restaurant first opened, we weren’t sure how it would fit in with its flashy River North surroundings. Turns out, we worried for nothing. Chef Jimmy Papadopoulos’ spot-on renditions of goulash, knackwurst and spaetzle are the real deal. He doesn’t hold back at brunch either, with items such as smoked beef tongue hash, Bavarian pancakes and, our favorite, an open-faced pork schnitzel sandwich. The labor-intensive dish starts with a huge piece of Duroc pork loin that’s brined and seasoned with caraway and marjoram before it’s fried. Underneath, a thick slice of rye bread is layered with housemade horseradish and sauerkraut, which adds a nice sour note, says Papadopoulos. Melted Emmentaler cheese and a fried egg top the dish, along with dill for brightness. “It’s a massive sandwich that could easily feed two people,” says Papadopoulos. “Everything is made in-house and with lots of love.” We have no doubts. 11 W. Illinois St., 312.955.0439
If you’re looking for a basic choice-of-eggs kind of brunch, then this Lincoln Park restaurant isn’t for you. “I don’t think brunch should be eggs over easy with hash browns,” says chef Jason Paskewitz. “Brunch should be a lot more fun than that.” And, boy, is it ever at this lovely new French spot where Paskewitz taps into his extensive culinary background to create lunch-driven dishes such as house-cured salmon and quiche Lorraine. Simple-sounding, sure, but there’s a lot of work behind each one, including the steak frites, which pairs grilled center-cut prime rib-eye with a bordelaise sauce and bone-marrow compound butter with some of the best fries in town. Eggs are so overrated. 1935 N. Lincoln Park W., 872.829.3971
Chef Brian Jupiter is no stranger to unusual meat cuts. At this West Town restaurant, he’s well known for his whole-animal special-order menus of goat, alligator and wild boar, as well as the more mundane salmon and farm-raised pig. At brunch, he keeps up that adventurous spirit with dishes such as the open-faced beef tongue sandwich with whipped eggs, jalapenos, pickled shallots, tonnato sauce and queso fresco all served on a toasted baguette. Says Jupiter, “For me, the perfect brunch combo is meat, eggs and spicy. Simple.” That’s easy for him to say. 1072 N. Milwaukee Ave., 773.772.4322
As the new chef at this West Town cafe, Duncan Biddulph is itching to add his own creations. But he also knows not to mess with a good thing. To wit: the Liège waffles, which make multiple appearances on the various menus. “There’s never a time in this restaurant when we are not making waffles,” he says. At brunch, you could order a savory version that’s topped with a creamy cheese sauce and cured ham. But it’s hard to resist the sweet option with housemade blueberry preserves and tangy creme fraiche. Biddulph credits the brioche dough’s long fermentation process for the waffles’ deep flavor, while the caramel-like texture comes courtesy of the larger grains of pearl sugar in the batter. Can’t decide between the two? Bring friends and get both. 1001 N. Winchester Ave., 773.698.8703
Autre Monde Cafe & Spirits
For most of us, brunch is just a meal. But for chef Dan Pancake, it’s much more. “Brunch is a very personal thing,” he says. “It’s driven by experience and the best things you’ve made or people have made for you.” A previous brunch dish of black-truffle scrambled eggs came about after a trip he and fellow chef (and partner outside of the kitchen) Beth Partridge took to Italy. For shakshuka, one of their new brunch dishes, the chefs turn to Spain (where they once lived) for ingredients such as housemade chorizo, which gets simmered at a low temperature with onions, garlic and heirloom tomatoes until all those flavors come together. Served in a cazuela—Spanish ceramic bowl—with pork-fat potatoes, the dish is topped with two poached eggs and served with grilled bread. Says Pancake, “Brunch is one of my favorite things to do.” The feeling is mutual. 6727 W. Roosevelt Road, 708.775.8122
In the not-so-distant past, fusion was considered a bad word when it came to food. These days, though, culinary mashups have moved into delicious territory. And that’s definitely the case at Mott St, where chef Edward Kim effortlessly weaves global flavors and ingredients on plate after plate. For his new brunch, Kim wanders to Thailand (congee with issan sausage), New Orleans (black bean shrimp and grits) and the Caribbean (coconut pancakes). For his creative riff on steak and eggs—kalbi and eggs—he heads to Korea. The thinly sliced short ribs are marinated in soy sauce, ginger and apple juice, giving them a sweet-and-salty flavor, says Kim. After a quick spin on the grill, the meat is paired with a sauteed potato-and-kimchee hash and two sunny side up eggs. “The dishes that we do here aren’t traditional,” says Kim. “We’re just taking from all of our experiences, and we want our brunch to reflect that as well.” 1401 N. Ashland Ave., 773.687.9977