Chicago's boundless brunch scene offers a full spectrum of options, from casual counter service to polished prix fixe. Two of the city's latest brunch additions pretty much bookend the gamut, with Trenchermen debuting a Saturday bar brunch this weekend, and Acadia unfurling its Sunday brunch prix fixe. With Derby Day and Cinco de Mayo this weekend, it will likely depend on how much debauchery you get yourself into where you wind up for brunch.
Trenchermen has been serving Sunday brunch for some time now, featuring inventive variations on weekend staples such as pretzel cinnamon rolls, sauerkraut bagels, and waffle ice cream. This weekend, the Sunday repast will be supplemented by the restaurant's new weekly Saturday bar brunch. Some dishes will carry over from the Sunday menu, but for the most part, Saturday's menu will stand on its own. Items tend towards the gluttonously indulgent, with dishes such as whiskey caramel-glazed doughnuts, banana bread French toast with coffee ice cream, and a hot brown sandwich with smoked turkey, cheese sauce, and tomato jam on Texas toast. As chef brothers Mike and Pat Sheerin do best, they're taking familiar, comforting foods and raising the bar, an pun for the brunch menu. Pastry chef Lisa Bonjour and sous chef Rebecca LaMalfa, who happens to have a knack for pastry herself (hint: she makes great cookies), collaborate on a rotating breakfast bread basket of goodies like pistachio bread and preserved plum and black bean scones (what!). Saturday brunch is served from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. starting May 4.
(Now you'll be able to eat this pretzel cinnamon roll on Saturdays too!)
In a slightly different direction, Acadia just unveiled a new brunch program last week, now being served every Sunday. This glistening seashell of a restaurant is best known for its elegant contemporary American dinner fare. The opulent space does not immediately scream "brunch," but leave it to chef Ryan McCaskey and his deft team of culinary compatriots to put a ritzy twist on brunch. The menu is prix fixe, offering guests multiple selections for the first two courses, followed by a seasonal tart. First course selections include cured salmon with a corn johhnycake, curried egg salad, crème fraîche, and caviar (because the only thing more brunchy than coffee is caviar, right?); Deer Isle scallop with seasonal hash, quail egg, and truffle; or a Scotch duck egg with mustard aïoli and wild watercress. Second courses include buckwheat pancakes with Maine blueberries and Wisconsin maple syrup; duck ham in hay with fried eggs and spring vegetables; and the crown jewel, lobster eggs Benedict with truffle hollandaise, Serrano, and country potatoes. I'm partially surprised the Benedict doesn't come with shaved money on top. Pastry chef Thomas Raquel finishes the meal with a seasonal tart, and augments the menu with à la carte doughnuts and breakfast pastries. Brunch costs $35 per person, served every Sunday from 11:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.
(Scotch duck egg. Photo: Acadia)
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