Category Archives: Brunch

Roast Bloody, River Roast

 

Don’t panic, but it’s time to panic. Summer is slipping away right before our eyes.

Let’s not talk about it, but let’s. Here’s what. Your Sunday is planned for you. 

Go to the Jazz Brunch on Sunday at River Roast. Soak in some sun. Drink a bloody mary. Listen to some boom, scat, yeah. Eat some tasty brunch foods. Watch boats go by. Then, hang out all day at the new River Walk.

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Horseradish kind of spicy, peppery and fresh, this bloody mary is the kind that begs to be drunk outdoors. In case you’re wondering, if you’re asked if you want a skewer in your bloody, the answer is always yes. Especially if it includes pickly, havarti dill, salami goodness.

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So the gist of this spot is roasted meats and veggies, carved tableside. That’s totally a brunch option, but they also have the standard brunch fare as well. We were craving meats though, so opted for the Blues Burger, which includes an egg on top. Burgers can be forgettable, but this is one you’d want to eat again because it’s perfectly seasoned and cooked. The omelette special on the other hand was good, but well, forgettable.

Well, you’re welcome. Your weekend brunch on the Chicago River is planned. Unless you hate these views.

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Roast Bloody:  Our rating (scale of 1–5)

Taste:        3.5

Spicy:      3

Treats:       3.5

Creativity: 3

Overall:      3.25

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Harissa Bloody Mary, avec

Sharing is caring when it comes to food and friends. Maybe not when it comes to bloody marys.

We’ve been wanting to check out the Sunday brunch at avec for, well, as long as it’s been around. No Paul Kahan concept has let us down yet.

Let’s start with the vibe. Get ready to get cozy. If you’ve been to avec, you know the concept is communal, and by nature, easy to get social and share small plates with your neighbors.

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The one thing we wouldn’t share: our Harissa Bloody Marys. Our first thought: What’s going on here? It’s different. We liked the flavor but couldn’t quite our taste buds on what was included. Sophisticated was a word that was used. The harissa (which is actually a hot chili paste made of roasted red pepper, serrano and other spices) gave this bloody a smoky and spicy side that was perfectly mellowed and balanced by the Belgian beer Atomium Premier Grand Cru. We were told the beer back rotates out, but the lemon saison we had served as the perfect complement.

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Now the food. You will not be disappointed. All three of the dishes we ordered were incredible, particularly the breakfast pizza. This wood fired work of art comes topped with pancetta, sunnyside eggs, roasted potatoes and onions and peppers. It’s savory and delicious.

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Next up, we ordered the fried chicken wings with Moroccan pancake. It was the perfect mashup of textures and flavors between the crispy chicken, savory pancake, smoky harissa and slightly sweet honey butter. We would eat that over and over again.

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Also eaten and not pictured were the chorizo-stuffed mejool dates as we’re usually a sucker for anything date-related (food, that is). It was delicious and not to mention, large and in charge for a small plate, but not as standout as the other two dishes. To round it all out, we tried these tasty nutter butter treats. An amazing way to end an amazing meal.

If you want to cozy up for brunch and try a one-of-a-kind bloody, don’t hesitate to give avec’s brunch a try.

Harissa Bloody Mary:  Our rating (scale of 1–5)

Taste:        3.5

Spicy:      3.25

Treats:       3.25

Creativity: 4

Overall:      3.5

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Bloody Mary, Frasca

We would be lying if we said Frasca in Roscoe Village was our first choice.

What actually happened was, we cabbed and bused it up to endgrain a while back (we’re a bit behind in more ways than one), only to find out it had been shuttered. We’ll never know the magic that is a bloody mary with a cheesy biscuit garnish. Maybe one day Red Lobster will create its own?

But Frasca’s brunch and bloody aren’t second best by any means. This wine and pizza bar brings its Italian genius to brunch.

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Do you love the bloody at Dunlay’s on Clark or Dunlay’s on the Square? How about Smoke Daddy? Chances are, you’ll love this one, too. The 4 Star Restaurant Group owns these joints and uses Smoke Daddy’s tasty Smokin Mary Mix for all their bloodies. The result? A well-balanced spicy bloody mary that never lets you down (just don’t order it with cucumber vodka. Trust us). Each restaurant’s bloody varies by garnish. At Frasca, you get a deconstructed caprese salad with cherry tomato, basil, mozzarella ball, plus prosciutto and olive. Add a piece of bacon for one buck extra, if you dare.

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Pizza for breakfast? OK! The Breakfast Pizza comes topped with bacon, sausage, cheese and three eggs over easy. Savory and rich, and the crust is perfectly chewy yet crisp. We also had the Italian Farmhouse Breakfast, which is two eggs baked in a crock with speck and tomato sauce which is lapped up and eaten on crusty bread. Why is it that tomato sauce makes everything better?

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While we weren’t planning to dine at Frasca, we certainly we’re disappointed. Solid bloody mary. Humble Italian food at its best.

Frasca Bloody Mary:  Our rating (scale of 1–5)

Taste:        3.25

Spicy:      3

Treats:       3.25

Creativity: 3

Overall:      3.125

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Bloody Samurai, Kingsbury Street Cafe

We hope 2015 is fantastically in full swing for everyone.

While we are both are officially back to five-day work weeks, we reminisce about more leisurely days when we could brunch on a Thursday. That’s right, we started this fine year off with a bloody mary in hand at Kingsbury Street Cafe

Nestled in the western border of Lincoln Park, interestingly enough across the street from the bougie Whole Foods and next door to a topless dancing establishment, Kingsbury Street Cafe is modern, airy and filled with natural lighting (not dissimilar to Summer House Santa Monica). The spring-like ambiance and vicarious views of the meringues were encouraging to say the least.

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Back to the business at hand: our first bloody mary of the year. There are several options on the menu in the way of tomatoey brunch cocktails, Bloody Mary, Bloody Maria, Bloody Lawrence and the Bloody Samurai. Excuse me, Bloody Samurai? A bloody made with sake instead of tried-and-true friends vodka or tequila.

We haven’t sampled many Asian-inspired bloody marys outside of Sunda, so we both had to give it a try. The mix itself was incredibly fresh, but truthfully, the sake was overpowering. The dryness of the wine didn’t leave room for any other flavors to shine.

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Can we get a do-over? Regrets for attempting to branch out because everyone seems to like this one. We’ll give it another try with a more standard liquor next time. Not all was lost. There were several cubes of cheese in the garnish.

Well, good luck deciding what entree to order. Everything on the menu sounded incredible, and it didn’t help that we were starving. The brunch fare is quite the showstopper.

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We settled on splitting the Salmon Hash with Poached Eggs and the Chilaquiles with Chorizo (surprise). The Salmon Hash was an incredibly savory mix of textures and flavors with salmon, peppers, leeks, tater totes, poached eggs and sour cream. Slightly rich, but unreal. We have a chilaquiles addiction, we know. This fix gave us just the rush we needed.

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It’s hard to rate this one objectively. It wasn’t the best, but we don’t blame the mix or the bartender. It was the misguided use (and ordering) of sake. We’ll be back to give this one another shot.

Bloody Samurai:  Our rating (scale of 1–5)

Taste:        2.5

Spicy:      3

Treats:       3.5

Creativity: 3

Overall:      3

 

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Dove’s Bloody Mary, Dove’s Lunchonette

Walk into Dove’s Luncheonette and you might forget what decade you’re in.

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Grab a seat at the counter and enjoy the timeless feel made possible by the wood paneling, 60s soul music and brown Hull mugs. It’s the kind of joint your grandpa would have patroned in his hay. If it existed then. It’s a diner that gives an unfussy vibe in the best way possible.

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Now for the bloody mary. You’ll have to excuse the hyperbole, but this is one of the best we’ve had in a while. It’s smoky and spicy, thanks to the housemade “grandpa mix,” a term coined by our server. This bloody is mixed with CH Vodka and finished with smoked black pepper, celery and root bitters and a simple lemon, lime and celery garnish.

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Given its neighbor and sister restaurant Big Star, it’s not surprising that the cuisine is Mexican inspired or that it’s incredibly delicious. Plus, you can put an egg on it, any of it, for a mere $1.

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Everything was amazing, but the standouts were the red chile enchiladas and smoked brisket taco norteno. The enchiladas’ guajillo-ancho chile sauce was incredibly flavorful and spicy. The smoked brisket was tender, well seasoned and mixed with an interesting combination of textures and flavors which include avocado and chicharones.

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Pro tip: Go early for brunch. This place is delicious and in Wicker Park, so it’s better to coast in before the cool kids get out of bed. Best get there as close to 9am when the diner opens.

Dove’s Bloody Mary: Our rating (scale of 1–5)

Taste: 4

Spicy: 4

Treats: 3

Creativity: 4

Overall: 3.75

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Bristol Bloody Mary, The Bristol

Girls who also like to eat and drink bloodies. That’s basically our criteria for lady friends.

Our trip to The Bristol a little while back was result of  “Brunch Bunch,” a bi-monthly standing brunch date with pals who are former coworkers. If you recall, the two ladies of this blog were coworkers, not once, but twice.

While we often sort through crazy remixes and over-the-top skewers of meats, cheese and pickled anything, it’s often nice to encounter a bloody mary that doesn’t have to try too hard.

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You can taste the handcrafted care that goes into the Bristol Bloody Mary. It’s spicy, thick and tomatoe-y (yeah, we made that a word), and finishes with a citrus tanginess. And for a spot that’s known for meats, the garnish is a simply good skewer of cheese, salami and olive. It’s the kind of bloody that’s not a showstopper but never underwhelms.

Get ready for a shocker: we ordered chilaquiles. Speaking of stealing the show, take notice of the tender, savory braised pork. Simple flavors work well together here with the fried egg, lime and cilantro. And a not a hot mess of soggy tortilla chips.

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The other lady of this duo had the slightly healthier polenta with mushrooms and brussels sprouts. It was tasty, but in all honesty, there was so many regrets for not ordering the chilaquiles.

Moral of the story: thumbs up for this solid Bucktown bloody mary. Until next time, friends.

Bristol Bloody Mary, The Bristol: Our rating (scale of 1–5)

Taste: 3.25

Spicy: 3.5

Treats: 3.25

Creativity: 3

Overall: 3.25

 

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Three Aces’ Bloody Mary, Three Aces

If you live here, we don’t need to tell you that summer in Chicago is fleeting.

Let’s be honest to ourselves, patio days are numbered. We’re sorry, but someone had to say it.

When it comes to ambiance and drink selection, there’s maybe no better patio than Three Aces in Little Italy. We’ve been here a few times and have actually never eaten inside. Because why would we? It’s the patio where you just want to hunker down for the afternoon. Which is sort of what we did a few weeks ago at brunch when the playlist was really killing it with 90s jams.

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ThreeAces_081014_Closeup_v01Three Aces is like your favorite dive bar. But actually nice. Rock ‘n roll murals meet flower planters outside. Dark but leathery inside. “The Italian countryside meets the American countryside…in Keith Richards’ basement bar.” Yep, pretty apt.

To be honest, the Three Aces’ bloody mary is pretty damn good, though it’s not earth shatteringly unique. Call it classic, if you will. A strong tomato flavor offset with horseradish and a bacon-chile rim. And the pickled veggies sort of make it feel healthy. Another thing we like about this bloody is that you get a sidecar of good, not necessarily cheap, beer. It switches out regularly, but was Allagash the day we visited. No one here is complaining.

ThreeAces_081014_Popcorn_v01We plan on bringing a bigger purse next time so we can steal one of the coffee mugs. Just kidding (kind of). So we tried all types of food, starting with Parmesan popcorn with Sriracha dipping sauce.
Your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you. That’s breakfast poutine. Fries with sausage gravy, bacon, fried egg and Sriracha. Order this, but prepare yourself for a food coma. The farm egg sandwich and summer vegetable hash were also tasty and uber filling.

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Well, go ahead and fit in one more patio brunch. We beg of you. To quote that show that one of us doesn’t watch but everyone else in the world does, “Winter is coming.” Cheers, friends.

Three Aces’ Bloody Mary, Three Aces: Our rating (scale of 1–5)

Taste: 3.5

Spicy: 3.5

Treats: 3.5

Creativity: 3.5

Overall: 3.5

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Bloody Mary Bar, Bub City

We’d heard about Bub City’s brunch from several food lovers. And after sampling Bub’s bloody at the Chicago’s Bloody Mary Competition, we had no choice by to give it a try.

To be honest, we expected that walking into Bub City would be like walking onto the set of Coyote Ugly (or the cheesy bar that used to be in River North. Anyone?). Sure it is a Nashville-themed country bar, but the kitsch was kept to a tasteful level.

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Bub City does a mean bloody mary bar. And while bloody mary bars can be crazy overwhelming, Bub City keeps it simple, even giving you directions along the way.

First, start with the rim and the booze. With three rimmers to pick from, we decided the Bub Rim made the most sense. It’s BBQ place, so the rubs must be good, right? You can choose from vodka, tequila, rye or bourbon, so one of us picked rye while the other went with tequila.

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With your booze chosen, next you do as the sign says, “Fill ‘er up.” There are a few mixes from which to choose, but we opted for Bub’s house mix. When in Bub.

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Finally, it’s time to dress up your bloody mary. There’s a plethora of spices and sauces you can add, and the garnishes are incredible. We love the roasted peppers, shrimp, pimento cheese-stuffed olives and mini grilled cheeses. Pro tip: be sure to grab a saltine with pimento cheese and sausage at the end of the bar.

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Finally, grab a pony or two of High Life and enjoy. We really like this one, you guys. Smoky, flavorful and all around solid. We believe the word that came up was “legit.” What makes this one stand out are the smokiness of the house mix (which comes in part from the BBQ rub spices) and the taste of cumin.

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We loved the food, too. Particularly the Green Chili Scrambler, which is kind of like a stew meets chilaquiles. In a really good way. It’s flavorful thanks to the green chili, cilantro and savory pork carnitas and lacks the sogginess factor of chilaquiles. Also, the Fried Chicken and Waffle. As Elaine says, “Wut.” Both perfectly crispy, which can be changed with the bacon-jalapeno honey or country-style gravy. We can’t wait to go back for the BBQ.

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We normally don’t review bloody mary bars since it’s usually your concoction versus the bartender’s. However, this one was so legit, we’re rating this on the assumption that you go with the standard Bub City flavors and don’t stray too much. Because you don’t need to 🙂

Bloody Mary Bar, Bub City: Our rating (scale of 1–5)

Taste: 4

Spicy: 4

Treats: 4.5

Creativity: 4.5

Overall: 4.25

 

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Board & Beer Bloody, Dusek’s

Call it our summer vacation. Call it flakiness. Whichever. With both of us having new busy jobs, trips out of town, etc., turns out we’re just not as disciplined as some of our blogger cohorts in keeping up.

But hopefully that will change.

Since we haven’t chatted much lately, we hope you’ll excuse us as we’re REAL bold for a minute: Dusek’s in Pilsen has become one of our favorite new brunch spots.

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Dusek’s decor is like that apartment you’ve always wanted to live in. Vintage details intermingle with sleek, modern furnishings. And we can help but love the place settings. It’s a mismatch of plates, silverware and glasses that might have come together by pooling all of our grandmas’ collections together. We mean that in a good way.

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This bloody rocks. It’s the kind of great tasting bloody mary that’s so well balanced that you can’t really pinpoint the ingredients. Horseradish does make a big play in this one, and we can’t resist a bloody that comes with a High Life pony.

Beermosas are phenomenal as well. They’re not your average Belgian beer with a splash of orange juice. They’re full-on premium cocktails. Try the Apple Beermosa that tastes like drinking a refreshing granny smith apple or the Ginger Beermosa that’s basically a beer-based Dark and Stormy.

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The food is incredible as well. First off, you can have oysters. Second, the egg dishes are rich and savory without being too over the top. Standouts we enjoyed were the BBQ Shrimp and Grits and the 3 Ham Eggs Benedict on House Sourdough. If you’re craving a burger, the Juicy Lucy is pretty great.

You might be interested to know that its sister restaurant Punch House below Dusek’s apparently serves delicious punch on tap. We haven’t been there, but we’re dying to.

Board & Beer Bloody , Dusek’s: Our rating (scale of 1–5)

Taste: 4

Spicy: 4

Treats: 3.5

Creativity: 3.5

Overall: 3.75

 

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Bloody Mary, Summer House Santa Monica

Oh summer, you’re such a tease.

You’re here for now after months of not showing your face. The sunshine and warmth are nice. Please stay.

Luckily, for when the weather decides to play hard to get, we now have Summer House Santa MonicaNext winter (or even next week, who knows) when it’s cold and you can’t afford a plane ticket to the west coast, let Summer House be your airy, sunny (albeit short) getaway. Come meet your future cure for seasonal affective disorder.

We’ve been dying to try this joint since it opened a few months ago. Hot, cold, whatever the actual season: this place gets busy. Luckily, we were able to belly up the the bar, where the brunch cocktails and food don’t play hard to get.

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At first sip, this bloody mary was decidedly fresh, briny and good. But different. We couldn’t put our tastebuds on it, so we consulted the bartender. Cumin makes the difference.

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We were quite taken with the garnish as well. Crispy bacon, cucumber, blue cheese stuffed olive, one standard green olive, celery, lemon and lime.  A homerun if only there had been TWO blue cheese stuffed olives.

The brunch menu has an array of healthier SoCal-inspired offerings such as granola, egg whites, spinach, avocado and kale. Of course, we went the more indulgent route. And after hemming and hawing about the roasted turkey eggs benedict or breakfast tostadas, we heeded our bartender’s advice and both went for the the breakfast tostadas. Because that’s how we do.

And wow, no regrets. Pulled chicken with sunny side up eggs, avocado, queso fresco, ranchero, atop crispy tortillas. Holy crap, get this. So good.

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Well, you know where you can find us in the winter months: using Summer House as a SAD lamp and crying into our bloody marys about the cold. Or whenever, this place is great. Until then, we explore on. Hopefully on sunny patios. Cheers!

Bloody Mary, Summer House Santa Monica: Our rating (scale of 1–5)

Taste: 3.5

Spicy: 3

Treats: 3.5

Creativity: 3

Overall: 3.25

 

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