Tag Archives: brunch

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.


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.


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.


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.


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 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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



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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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.


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.



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.



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.


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.


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.


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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Sumo Mary, Sunda

After months of hearing and talking about it, this actually happened.

The Sumo Mary, a massive bloody mary that requires bold feats of brunch wrestling strength. We first heard of it from fellow brunch enthusiast Gourmet Rambler. We listed it as Chicago’s most ridiculous bloody mary on Thrillist. We got acquainted with it on Windy City Live! It was time to get to Sunda and experience its magnitude for ourselves.

We’re gonna be completely honest for a second. Bloodies with crazy garnishes get lots of attention, but we don’t buy the hype. The gimmick often overshadows the flavor of actual cocktail.


This isn’t the case with the Sumo Mary. We were blown away by the taste. Hyperbole warning: it’s one of the best we’ve had this year. It’s 32 ounces of refreshment with generous cilantro and cucumber flavors. Plus, according to executive chef Jess Deguzman, it also includes a Vietnamese dipping sauce Nước chấm, a garlic vinaigrette and Japanese citrus fruit yuzu, giving this bloody mary its unique, distinctly Asian flavor.

Now for the reason we’re all here: the garnish. Chef Jess created this bloody masterpiece using ingredients he already had in the kitchen. Are you ready for this? It consists of a baked Alaska crab roll, Chinese duck bao bun, a piece of thick braised pork belly and grilled cheese with tochino (Filipino sausage). Then comes all the side items: oshinko (Japanese pickled radish), roasted potatoes, shishito peppers, loompya (Filipino egg roll), Chinese broccoli and four piece of bacon.

This bloody mary isn’t for the faint of heart, and neither is its price tag at $40. But when you think about it, it’s a good value when you consider you’re getting essentially two bloody marys and a meal. If this is too much bloody mary, you can also get a standard size and create your own garnish selection via their bloody mary cart.

To be honest, we were pretty stuffed after wrestling this bloody. That didn’t stop us from seeing what the rest of Sunda’s brunch menu had to offer.


Brunch is where “east meets west,” with offerings that range from Asian-inspired brunch dishes to sushi to dim sum. We tried the braised pork belly on rice patty, which is an Asian spin on an egg benedict. The pork was incredibly tender, smoky and savory, and the crispy rice was a surprisingly amazing alternative to traditional English muffin.


Sunda makes for the perfect spot for the group that likes to order and try a bit of everything. The classic crispy rice with spicy tuna and seared wagyu tartare were standouts that both came with a spicy jalapeno kick that’s enhanced with the crunch of the rice.

Come for the bloody, stay for the Sunda’s brunch. Don’t let the over-the-top garnish fool you, the Sumo Mary is the real deal. It’s a bloody mary we could drink again and again. And hope to.

Sumo Mary: Our rating (scale of 1–5)

Taste: 4.5

Spicy: 4

Treats: 5

Creativity: 4.5

Overall: 4.5

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La Maria India and Margarita Carmesi, Las Palmas

If you could guess anything about us from browsing our corner of the internet, besides the fact we love bloody marys, is that we love brunch with a Mexican flair. If there’s a Mexican-inspired dish on the menu, at least one or both of us is ordering it. Yeah, we’re that cutesy couple that always orders the same thing at restaurants. Except, you know platonic.

Because one of us (ahem, Elaine) is particularly obsessed with brunching at Las Palmas as of late, we figured why not give it an official Bloody Best visit. Obviously, drinks were in order.


One of us ordered La Maria India (tall, skinny number above), Las Palmas’ version of a bloody mary, which includes a housemade chipotle mix and Kettle One vodka. The other ordered the Margarita Carmesi because it sounded like a bloody mary and margarita in one. It essentially is: house-made roasted tomato juice infused with jalapeño, lime juice and Milagro tequila.


Here’s the thing: both drinks were incredibly tasty with a refreshing tomato-lime flavor and a hint of spice. But they tasted almost exactly the same—except for the fact that margarita had a distinct tequila flavor. Perhaps the bartender was different that day or there was a mix up of sorts. Hey, we’re not complaining. They both were good. Just not what we were expecting.


You guessed it. We ordered the exact same dish off the menu, Huevos con Chorizo. Isn’t that cute? Sure glad we did too. Neither of us would have been up for sharing. It’s a flavorful dish made with house-made chorizo, scrambled eggs and a crunchy tortilla, topped with pico de gallo, black refried beans & queso fresco. Our advice: go ahead and add a little of that salsa that comes with the complimentary chips.

We’re looking forward to coming back in the springtime when we can sit on the back patio. Girls can dream about warm weather, right? At any rate, the bright and airy sun room with its eclectic art was pleasant enough.


La Maria India and Margarita Carmesi: Our rating (scale of 1–5)

Taste: 3

Spice: 3.5

Treats: 2

Creativity: 3.5

Overall: 3

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Bloody Mary Bar, Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba

Getting older hurts a lot less if you’re drinking a bloody mary.

At least that’s our theory. And we tested out said theory a few weeks ago at Cafe Ba-ba-reeba when one half of this duo turned another year older.


We’d heard tons about the famed bloody mary bar at Ba-ba-reeba. And tapas here are pretty much standard with out-of-town visitors. Birthday brunch no-brainer.


As far as bloody mary bars go, this is a pretty great one. It starts off like most others. You get a glass of ice and vodka. And here, you actually get to pick your generous pour. We both went with Absolut Peppar. Because delicious. Next, you pick a mix. Options include organic tomato juice, gazpacho and Uncle Dougie’s Torpedo Juice. Then you customize with fixings, hot sauce and garnishes. Speaking of fixings, just the right amount. Not too overwhelming. Lemon juice, lime juice, Worcestershire, beef broth, Revolution beer, to name a few.  And if you lose your way while dressing up your bloody mary, recipe recommendations are readily available.

For your mix, we’d recommend going with Uncle Dougie’s Torpedo Juice or the organic tomato juice. Or a mixture of both. Yum. The gazpacho was a bit on the watery side.


Here’s where we’d rate the bloody with our scale, but that would be just vain since we made these ourselves. Maybe create a whole new scale for bloody mary bars? What should the criteria be? Holler at your girls.

Cafe Ba-ba-reeba is located at 2024 N. Halsted. 

Restaurant Information

* Restaurant Name
Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba!
* Overall
* Neighborhood / Cuisine
Lincoln Park
* Street Address
2024 North Halsted Street, Chicago, IL 60614
* Phone
(773) 935-5000
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Bloody Norseman, 2 Sparrows

It’s been a while since we posted. Ohhhh, life. We won’t get too into the weeds, but let’s just say that we both could use a serious drink. Or three.

Which, luckily, is our main reason for this post. We’ve been wanting to try 2 Sparrows for over a year. We’ve heard rave reviews for their bloody mary, errr Norseman. One friend even calls it her favorite. We decided it would be the perfect locale for a mini-reunion with a favorite gal pal.

Well, what’s the deal with the Bloody Norseman? It’s made with North Shore Aquavit. What’s that, you ask? We had to wiki. Come to find out, aquavit is a Scandinavian spirit flavored with spices like caraway, cardamom, cumin and anise. We had a ridiculously hard time identifying flavors in the housemade bloody mix. Upon investigation, we learned, in addition to tomato juice, it includes cilantro, celery, onion, Worcestershire sauce, Frank’s Red Hot and lime.


We were split on this one. To be honest, neither of us loved it. We’ll remain nameless, but one of us actually blurted out “it tastes like soup,” and found it hard to drink. The other half of the duo found it unique in flavor and gave it points for audacity, but still wasn’t a huge fan. The one thing we agreed upon: the beefy jerky was delicious.

As was the brunch. We about died when we tried this adult version of a Pop-Tart. Amazing. It had a flaky, slightly sugary crust with a blackberry and orange filling. Pinky swear you’ll get this as a starter or side.


The mains proved to be an audacious and successful mix of flavors. A little sweet with savory. Tangy with the mild. The star of the show was the chile relleno. So many tasty things happening here. The spice of the pepper was balanced by the cream cheese and sweetness of the dried cranberries and almonds and then topped with chipotle spice again. We wouldn’t have guessed this dish would work but it sure did.




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

Taste: 2

Spice: 2.5

Treats: 3.5

Creativity: 3

Overall: 2.75

Have you been to 2 Sparrows? What were your thoughts on the Bloody Norseman and brunch?

Restaurant Information

* Restaurant Name
2 Sparrows
* Overall
* Neighborhood / Cuisine
Lincoln Park
* Street Address
553 West Diversey Parkway, Chicago, IL 60614
* Phone
(773) 234-2320
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