Brunch is a booming business in Chicago, with new restaurants and menus emerging seemingly every week. Especially lately, the city has seen a surge in reputable brunches debut, each offering a stylistic and innovative approach to the weekend pastime. From internationally inspired dim sum to morning fare rooted in culinary traditions of France and Spain, here are some of the newest additions to Chicago’s brunch scene.
Fort Willow: Borrowing inspiration from Chinese-style dim sum, wherein a parade of small plates and snacks rove around the dining room and fill up tables, Bucktown’s new Fort Willow is offering something new for the weekend set. The clandestine, whimsically designed restaurant and bar, which features a makeshift tree and swing right in the middle of the room, keeps with its eclectic, international food theme for its brand new weekend brunch. In lieu of typical dim sum items like dumplings and buns, Fort Willow features bites like egg rolls with chorizo, potato and cheese; Benedict with ham, poached eggs and harissa hollandaise; and housemade Fritos with salsa verde, cheese and a fried egg. To drink, there’s a French 75 with gin, blueberries, lemon and Cava; Irish coffee made with demerara, Dark Matter coffee, Irish whisky and fresh cream; and a Bloody Mary with vodka, fresh-squeezed tomatoes, jalapeño and basil.
Bar Biscay: One of the hottest new restaurants in town just added brunch to its repertoire, providing more opportunity to sample the goods at this West Town sensation. Similar to the dinner menu, which draws upon flavors from the Bay of Biscay with ingredients from Spain and France, Bar Biscay’s new Sunday brunch menu. Look for dishes like asparagus with jamon Serrano, greens, a soft egg and chervil emulsion; tortilla española topped with fried squid; Basque sausage “bun” with espelette pepper maple syrup; and a savory porridge with wild mushrooms, wheat berries, poached egg and greens. Crepes are a big deal as well, featured on their own menu section with fillings both sweet and savory. Drinks follow a similar tune, adapting a European accent to staples like a Bloody Mary with vermouth and cachaca, Cava mimosas and a Biscay 75 with Cava, Cognac, bitters and Maraschino liqueur. Brunch is served on Sundays from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.
Tied House: In other hot new restaurant developments, Lakeview’s red-hot Tied House also added brunch to its menu lineup, and if the acclaimed dinner offerings from chef Debbie Gold are any indication, you’re not gonna want to sleep on this. The menu starts with breads and bowls, including babka, sour cream coffee cake, quinoa “trail mix,” whole-grain porridge with orange blossom honey and “corn flakes” with chocolate, banana and brazil nut milk. Then things move on to “brunch-ish,” a standout menu section with the likes of biscuits and gravy with chicken liver; short rib hash with potatoes and farm egg; Dutch-style pancakes with creme fraiche and apple butter; and breakfast ramen with lamb bacon, bok choy and sea beans. Then there’s the “lunch-ish” section, where you’ll find pork jowl pastrami melts, avocado toast with sweet peas and yogurt, rigatoni with guanciale and ricotta salata and a burger with secret sauce, cheddar cheese and pickle. Brunch is served on Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 a.m. until 2:30 p.m.
Punch Bowl Social: Last but certainly not least, the massive new dining and entertainment complex in the West Loop, Punch Bowl Social, also added brunch to its lengthy lineup of offerings, which also includes lunch, dinner, cocktails, bowling, bocce, karaoke, darts and arcade games. In addition to baked goods and sweets from West Town Bakery, celebrity chef Hugh Acheson outfitted the menu with unique takes on comfort food classics, like a grits breakfast bowl with Tasso ham, sauteed kale, pickled peppers, white cheddar and poached eggs; ricotta cheese pancakes with blueberry jam and fresh lemon curd, and monkey bread French toast with salted caramel, candied walnuts and bacon. Brunch is served on Saturdays and Sundays from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.