Eat This: Brunch, Chicago Style
While in Chicago for the Pitchfork Music Festival, we managed two get in two excellent brunches. One was at Chicago stalwart Ann Sather and the other was at the hip and delicious Southport Grocery.
Ann Sather has four locations, with the original one on W. Belmont having been around for over sixty years. We went to the N. Southport one and were not disappointed. Ann Sather has become a standout in the breakfast and brunch category, mostly due to their legendary cinnamon buns that have even become incorporated into the decoration on the awning outside.
So, when faced with ordering, one of us clearly had to get the item on the specials menu called French Toast Fantasy. Apparently trumpeted by Rachel Ray, this dish involves “marscarpone-filled cinnamon rolls, battered, grilled and topped with granola and fresh seasonal berries.”
We figured this would kill two birds with one stone and allow us to experience the Ann Sather cinnamon bun in a whole new way. And boy did it ever. Surprisingly, it was not too sweet, and we even wished for a little more cinnamon flavor. The marscarpone was an awesome addition, and the granola on top added a lovely crunchiness. I think granola on top of French toast should become a regular thing.
As insane as this sounds, if you order this dish we still recommend getting a regular cinnamon bun or sticky bun, as that experience is pure and wonderfully delicious and should never be replaced (we’ve had it before this trip).
The next day we headed to Southport Grocery, a favorite of DevoLT’s on her annual trips to Chicago. This place is so hip and adorable it almost makes you cringe (especially when you see the wait list), but the food quickly makes up for that. The unique choices for brunch, including Sweet & Savory French Toast (“french toast layered with smoked ham & gruyere with a side of maple-mustard syrup”) and Bread Pudding Pancakes (“a pancake made with gooey bread pudding topped with cinnamon-sugar butter & a side of vanilla custard sauce”), are exciting and enticing, and they also have some great extras, like a Grown-up Pop Tart and Grilled Coffee Cake.
We decided to start with the Grilled Coffee Cake, which features their homemade our cream-cinnamon-walnut coffeecake that is grilled and then filled with cream cheese. Yum! It was a little intense for the first thing to be put in our mouths that morning, but it did wake us right up! The Stuffed French Toast (“banana bread, fresh strawberry cream cheese stuffing with a strawberry champagne sauce”) sounded pretty amazing, but after yesterday’s endeavor we decided to still with eggs.
We got the Spinach-Artichoke Omelet and Bruschetta, which is actually a crostini topped with scrambled eggs with a healthy dose of bruschetta (tomatoes, onions, balsamic) and queso fresco on top. It also comes with chicken sausage but we had ours on the side. For some reason balsamic vinegar is not usually found in breakfast dishes, but this dish makes a great argument for changing that.
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