Brunch Bites: Valois and The Duck Inn

In this week's batch of brunch bites, an ode to Valois' classic steak and eggs and The Duck Inn debuts brunch service. 



On a rapidly gentrifying street in Hyde Park, Valois stands strong. The casual, decades-old cafeteria is still hotter than ever, even when faced with the hyper popularity of froufrou brunches. A recent visit to this south side institution prompted an homage to one of the greatest old-school eateries in the city, one that just so happens to hold its own with breakfast and brunch fare that is second to none. The timeworn cafeteria still bustles with hungry diners and draws a line out the door on most mornings. A large part of the reason locals line up en masse is for the no-frills, Obama-endorsed comfort food. That's right, there's a whole section of the menu devoted to President Obama's favorites, as he regularly visits the restaurant on trips to Chicago. One such favorite is the steak and eggs, a proper ode to the meaty form featuring a gigantic and succulent strip of steak cooked to order and served with eggs and potatoes. It's unabashedly greasy, excessive, and indulgent, seamlessly covering the gamut of Midwestern meat and potatoes norms. This is what cafeteria fare is all about, cooked up by a gruff and fast-paced service staff and delivered swiftly for half the cost of most overwrought brunch plates around town. For when that nostalgic steak and eggs craving hits, Valois is where it's at. 

Now on to something more modern: The Duck Inn in Bridgeport has joined the city's ever-expanding brunch fray. True to form for chef Kevin Hickey, the weekend menu showcases his proclivity for New American cuisine, offering reimagined interpretations of classic brunch flavors in exciting new ways. Examples include a sweet corn funnel cake with blueberries; Maryland crab crepes with Calabrian chile hollandaise; duck confit hash with a duck egg and Wisconsin cheese Mornay; and chai bread pudding French toast with English treacle. To drink, beverage director goes beyond the Bloody with standouts like a boozy Vietnamese coffee, seasonal fruit mimosas, and house bottled brunch sodas. Brunch is served from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. on Sundays.

- Matt Kirouac