By Lisa Arnett, @redeyeeats
October 11, 2012
"This neighborhood is pretty rich in brunch tradition," chef Patrick Sheerin said. The man speaks the truth: Trenchermen, the 4-month-old restaurant he runs with co-chef and brother Michael in Wicker Park, is just blocks from brunch faves such as The Bongo Room, Toast and Milk & Honey. "We wanted brunch to be a twist on familiar items and maybe be a little more on the savory side."
Mission accomplished. After only a few weeks of brunch service, Trenchermen already is standing out with dishes such as pig skin pad Thai. A versatile menu has options to suit the solo diner looking for coffee and a snack at the bar or groups going all out with hair-of-the-dog cocktails in the dining room.
A few 'hoods south on Randolph Street, Grange Hall Burger Bar owner Angela Lee tells her servers to call their weekend a.m. service breakfast, not brunch. "For us, breakfast means … early rising, it means wholesome, it means back to the simple things that you have for breakfast as opposed to the things you'd have for brunch or lunch," Lee said. "It's not meant to be long and leisurely … or hoity-toity or sceney."
These are just two restaurants in a micro-burst of new options for fueling up on weekend mornings. Whether you're looking for a simple home-style breakfast or a lazy, boozy brunch, there's something to eat (and of course drink) for everyone.
Grange Hall Burger Bar
844 W. Randolph St. 312-491-0844
Eat: The open-faced breakfast burger ($13.95). "The idea behind this burger is that it's everything great about breakfast in one bite," owner Angela Lee said. The same grass-fed beef burger that's served at dinner time is slapped atop cinnamon-raisin French toast. On top of that goes Canadian bacon, applewood-smoked bacon, a pour of maple syrup, sharp cheddar and, finally, a fried egg. Family inspiration is all over the rest of the menu, from blueberry pancakes ($7.50) using berries from Lee's own Michigan farm to the Quiche Loretta ($9.75), inspired by the way her farmer grandfather would bake scrambled eggs in a skillet atop a slice of bread.
Drink: Cowboy Coffee ($9.75). The restaurant's everyday Colombian roast is made weekend-worthy with the addition of rye whiskey from local distillery Koval, brown sugar, cinnamon and whipped cream.
When: 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday
2039 W. North Ave. 773-661-1540
Eat: Pig skin lobster pad Thai ($12). While dining in Chinatown, the Sheerin brothers realized that cooked pig skin has a texture similar to rice noodles, so they shaved it into thin ribbons and combined it with lobster and tamarind- and fish sauce-laced broth for an unusual spin on a traditional noodle brunch. In a nod to the brothers' Irish and Polish roots, the Potato Basket ($12) fills a crispy cylinder of fried potatoes with mole breakfast sausage, sawmill gravy, whipped potatoes and a poached egg. Maple syrup is on hand for the French toast ($12), but with toppings of raisin puree, maple crystals and waffle ice cream (made from milk soaked in waffles until it picks up a toasty, yeasty flavor), you probably won't need it.
Drink: A tequila-cucumber juice concoction called Better Than Advil ($8). Take one with an order of the pig skin lobster pad Thai after a rough night and "you're back in the saddle again, life is good," said Sheerin.
When: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday
4416 N. Clark St. 773-907-9900
Eat: Chef Kristine Subido's take on fried chicken and waffles ($9), served with house-made coconut jam and sriracha-black pepper butter. This chicken-centric Uptown eatery also represents in the pork department with a Longaniza sausage burger ($9) topped with a fried egg and toasted garlic mayo.
Drink: Mimosas ($7) kicked up a notch with lychee puree, black currant syrup or calamansi, a lime native to the Philippines that makes plenty of appearances on Subido's menu.
When: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday
Fatpour Tap Works
2005 W. Division St. 773-698-8940
Eat: The pizza scramble ($10), which chef Mark Nieuwenhuis claims is his favorite dish on the brunch menu at this Wicker Park beer bar. He takes made-from-scratch pizza dough and spreads on marinara, mozzarella, roasted red peppers, jalapenos, caramelized onions, scrambled eggs and house-made sausage flavored with fennel and garlic. After a turn in the wood-burning pizza oven, it's crispy, melty and ready to be devoured. Nieuwenhuis also makes the most of the meat he features in a grilled lamb dinner entree by offering eggs Benedict ($10) with chipotle hollandaise, asparagus and lamb medallions pan-seared with thyme and garlic.
Drink: Beermosas made with Wittekerke, a Belgian wheat beer ($5). A build-your-own bloody mary bar ($7 per trip) featuring garnishes such as pickled green beans and the house-made sausage is set to debut in a few weeks.
When: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Note: Fatpour is a Wisconsin Badgers bar, so brunch is not served on game days when kickoff is noon or earlier.
Dragon Ranch Moonshine & BBQ
441 N. Clark St. 312-955-1900
Eat: Biscuits and gravy ($13). At this Asian-American barbecue joint in River North, chef Red Hauge replaces the traditional buttermilk biscuits with his super-moist cornbread and then piles on sausage gravy and poached eggs, plus jalapeno and cilantro for kick. Fans of eggs Benedict remixes should try the Thai Benedict ($13), which pairs spicy house-made Thai sausage and red curry-coconut hollandaise.
Drink: Moonshine bloody marys, of course. Fashion your own skewer from a spread of garnishes such as pepperoni, celery, blue cheese-stuffed olives and kimchee ($7) and make it as zesty as you like with hot sauce and horseradish.
When: 10:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday
1416 S. Michigan Ave. 312-663-1278
Eat: Pork belly eggs Benedict ($13), which uses the same fork-tender molasses- and soy-marinated pork belly that's featured inside sliders on the South Loop restaurant's dinner menu. With opening chef Kendal Duque out and new chef Jackie Shen (best known for her cooking at Red Light and Chicago Cut Steakhouse) taking the reins, expect fresh dishes ($9-$12) to be worked into the mix, including banana-chocolate French toast and croque monsieur.
Drink: Seasonal bellinis ($8) that rely less on fruit and more on spices and classic cocktail ingredients. Options change weekly, but past champagne creations have incorporated five spice, sherry and bitters. Look for a new house-made bloody mary recipe to debut soon.
When: 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
MORE NEW MORNING MEALS
1400 S. Michigan Ave. 312-786-1750
All-you-can-eat waffles in the South Loop
2429 N. Lincoln Ave. 773-687-9250
Swedish pancakes and diner breakfast classics in Lincoln Park
800 W. Randolph St. 312-929-4580
English breakfast in the West Loop
459 N. Ogden Ave. 312-526-3450
Whiskey French toast in West Town
1824 W. Division St. 773-862-8686
Brewer's Brunch with beer flights in Wicker Park
2873 N. Broadway 773-770-3527
Gluten-free breakfast in East Lakeview
Local Root Cafe
601 N. McClurg Court 312-643-1145
Breakfast sandwiches in Streeterville
1212 N. Dearborn St. 312-337-4490
Italian-inspired brunch in the Gold Coast
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