Dining Chicago

Sweet of the Week: Bananamisu Pancakes at Bongo Room

Lately I've been thinking a lot about tiramisu. What with the re-imagined versions at Cicchetti and Nico Osteria, this tired Italian dessert is finally fresh again. A few months or so ago, I would have said that tiramisu was as dated as VHS, but nowadays my feelings have changed. The combo of espresso, liqueur, and cocoa is an alluring one, and thanks to adept restaurants re-inventing the wheel, tiramisu has proven its worth in the pantheon of great classic desserts. And then there's the zaniest tiramisu creation of all, the bananamisu pancakes at Bongo Room. This breakfast haunt has a notorious penchant for overwrought, belt-busting "dessert" pancakes, but this ones takes the... (pan)cake?

Bananamisu pancakes
(Bananamisu pancakes at Bongo Room)

Of all the decadent dessert-y pancakes I've had at Bongo Room, and I've had quite a bit, these bananamisu pancakes raise the bar to lethal new levels. Dense banana pancakes come heaped with a baseball-sized mound of cocoa-infused mascarpone, plus a substantial dosage of Marsala and espresso. Oh and a bushel's worth of diced bananas strewn about for good measure. As heinous as it is, and as borderline embarrassing as it is to order, this thing is undeniably extraordinary. As with most things at Bongo Room, where shock value lures you in and the impressive flavors keep you coming back for more, the bananamisu pancakes are otherworldly. It's sweet and vivifying from the bracing espresso and Marsala, enriched ten-fold by the cocoa mound on top, all against the satiny backdrop of the banana-infused pancakes. Bongo Room strikes again.

- Matt Kirouac

Neighborhoods: Chicago Loop

The duo behind the popular breakfast nook opens a second location in the South Loop. Expect the same menu of offbeat pancakes, waffles and overstuffed sandwiches. There are no reservations.

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