I don’t know whom to thank for the weekend phenomenon we call brunch—a simple Google search points at different times to the French Quarter of New Orleans (or really, the “Fench” quarter, which doesn’t engender confidence); Britain in 1896 thanks to some publication called Hunter’s Weekly; reporter Frank Ward O’Malley, who looked for a new term to define his journalist-on-the-go eating habits; and Britain in the 19th/20th century, when the convention demonstrated the leisured privilege of the rich.
What I do know is this: there is nothing quite as nice as late-morning meals, especially at new places and especially with people you love. To prove my point, here are three reasons I love brunch (i.e., three Chicago-area restaurants that make nice ones):
1. HARNER’S 10 W State Street, North Aurora, IL
A few Saturdays ago, my mom and my brother and I tried this new-to-me restaurant/bakery that I’d read rave reviews about online, where the menu is reasonably priced, the bakery is packed with made-from-scratch coffee cakes (and doughnuts and bread and cookies) and, at least if the wait is any indication of popularity, everyone loves to go.
Between the three of us, we ordered omelettes, ham, sausage, toast, breakfast potatoes and slices of the famous coffee cake to go, and amidst the leisured hour or so we spent there, we discovered a marvelous surprise: that the suburbs can do brunch well (and cheap!) and, best of all, I managed to take the first photo of my mom approved for posting here.
Small steps, people.
2. MILK + HONEY CAFE, 1920 West Division Street, Chicago, IL
Thanks to @TCrustDDish on Twitter, I remembered I’d been wanting to try Milk + Honey in Wicker Park, so on one of those beautiful November afternoons we were given, in near 60-degree weather, my brother and I walked up to this crowded cafe and saw people dining al fresco outside, wearing light jackets and sipping hot drinks. Our orange brioche French toast and egg-bacon-cheddar panini were good, but the almond croissant (pictured at the top) was perfection: flaky, light, the almond filling the ideal complement to the buttery dough.
3. DUCHAMP, 2118 N Damen Avenue, Chicago, IL
This past Sunday afternoon, a $40 groupon brought us to DuChamp, recently featured in Chicago Magazine‘s “Best Restaurants in Chicago: 30 under $30” (now I’ve been to two of the restaurants featured there!) and located just down the street from The Bristol.
In the restaurant’s almost-empty dining room, we tried the houska French toast with lemon mascarpone and nutella, which I may have scraped every last bit of off the plate; an omelette with bacon, havarti and spinach that reminded me of the things I do like about that breakfast meat that I have yet to cook again; and garlic and Romano fries, which were crispy outside and soft inside. Excellent meal.
The combination of all these trips out has been adding up, I’ll admit (am I the only one who spends most of her free budget on more food?), but I have loved every bit of it. Now it’s your turn: where are your favorite brunch places, whether in Chicago or your own town? I’d love to know.