Brunch Bites: Johnny's Grill and Publican Quality Meats
As the tides of gentrification swept through Logan Square, the neighborhood lost one of its most enduring, iconic diners when Johnny's Grill closed up shop several months ago. Instead of a hot restaurant group taking over and re-concepting the space, the longstanding diner just re-emerged in tact thanks to Sarah Jordan, the chef who cut her teeth at spots like BOKA and Cicchetti before embarking on her own venture. The relaunch of Johnny's Grill is a true passion project, both for Jordan and for the neighborhood at large, preserving a stalwart while updating the menu with a few wholesome touches. It's basically the best of both worlds; the diner prices remain reasonable and neighborhood-friendly, but Jordan adds some contemporary flourishes that dovetail with her Irish roots. The space has expanded, adding a bar area along with menu items like johnny cakes, breakfast pie, white and black pudding, Irish bacon bap, and fish 'n' chips. True to form, Jordan exhibits her penchant for pastries with desserts like choco pie, coffee & beignets, malts, shakes, and and a sundae with Fernet fudge sauce.
After conquering the lunch, dinner, deli, and brunch world, Publican Quality Meats has expanded its portfolio to include breakfast service. Available weekdays from 8:00 a.m. until 10:00 a.m., the butcher shop and eatery now serves burly morning fare on a regular basis. Hearty menu items include a breakfast burrito brimming with PQM bacon, scrambled eggs, fried potatoes, and salsa; multi-grain with peach butter and fromage blanc; and sourdough with pimento cheese, dill pickle, fried egg, and country ham. When in Rome, do as the Romans do with PQM's Butchers Breakfast, a melee of PQM bacon, breakfast sausage, fried eggs, country bread, and potatoes.
- Matt Kirouac