Ever since my mom used to make badass egg sandwiches for my siblings and I — for breakfast, lunch, or dinner — they've held a special place in my heart. They are the perfect example of how divine and delicious simplicity can be. All it takes to concoct supreme comfort food is a fried egg or two, crusty buttery bread, a bit of meat, and a bit of cheese. Together, it forms a cohesive one-two punch of savory satisfaction like no other. Nowadays, aside from the times when I make egg sandwiches for myself at home (and let's be honest, that never happens), I almost never eat egg sandwiches. They tend to get lost in the fray on breakfast/brunch menus at restaurants. So it is a wonderful thing that a restaurant finally opened devoted entirely to the humble egg sandwich. Eastman Egg Company originated as a food truck, and a mighty successful one at that, roving around Chicago doling out supreme sandwiches laden with ingredient combos both classic and contemporary. And with the opening of their standalone restaurant space in the Loop, Chicago finally gets the egg sandwich homage it deserves.
(Eastman Egg Company's Crown sandwich)
Located on Wacker Drive across from the Opera House and surrounded by high-rise business buildings, Eastman Egg Company is a welcome reprieve from the typical slew of fast-food restaurants in the area. The space pops out like a sleek breath of fresh air, outfitted with a few high-top tables and a polished counter in back. It's straightforward and comfortable, just like an egg sandwich itself. The menu is concise and focused, with several egg sandwich options adjoined by sides, beverages, yogurt parfaits, and a killer bacon gingersnap cookie.
Some standout menu items are the Scoundrel, a rascally medley of farm egg, white cheddar, smoked turkey, wilted spinach, and spiced honey mustard on a pleasantly chewy pretzel roll. The pretzel stands up to the hefty innards quite well, balancing out all the smoky, gooey, savorous components with its slightly sweet flavor and pillowy texture. Although ciabatta fared a bit more slippery, I also love the Crown sandwich made with chorizo, egg, Egmont cheese, avocado, and salsa verde. It's just zesty enough and nicely piquant. The ciabatta is softer than most crusty ciabatta, which would be a great thing aside from the fact that the egg and chorizo patty tend to slide out with every bite. It's messy but worthwhile.
Another component that sets Eastman well apart from the local Loop haunts is its thoughtful array of sides. Because it's not every egg sandwich that comes with optional sides like corn succotash, couscous summer salad, and multi-grain tortilla chips. Be sure and finish your meal with a bacon gingersnap cookie, one of the better ginger cookies I've ever had. The bacon flavor is quite muted, but the ginger is heady enough as is, and the cookie's pliable texture is the stuff of cookie dreams, with an exterior crackle that gives way to doughy interior.
- Matt Kirouac