My wife and I just spent a fantastic long weekend in Chicago - a trip that benefitted greatly from the advice on this board. By way of thanks, over the next few days I'll post my thoughts on the various sources of chow we visited during our stay. These won't be new discoveries to most local hounds, but maybe my notes will help out my fellow travellers. Now, here's the first installment: brunch.
The Bongo Room in Wicker Park was a little out of the way for Loop-based tourists like us, but the trip was worthwhile overall. The high-ceilinged room had an airy and relaxed feel and, since we went on a Monday, it wasn't too crowded. My wife chose flapjacks with brandied sour cherries and I ordered an omelette with spinach, yellow peppers and asiago cheese. The flapjacks had a bit too much baking soda, but this minor defect was more than outweighted by the flavourful cherries and light sauce that made the plate a big hit. The omelette was above average but not spectacular: nice baby spinach - but too much of it - and good hash browns. Bacon on the side came well-done, as ordered, but could some extra smoking and/or salting. The fresh orange juice was excellent, and not badly sized for the price.
Heaven on Seven, two blocks from our hotel, was a contrast in settings. Well-worn and compact, with bottles of hot sauce and magazine clippings for decorations, it can best be described as a "joint". Our quick and friendly server brought poached eggs with crab cakes for my wife and bananas foster french toast with pecans for me. My wife asked for firm yolks on the eggs, and that's how they came. The crab cakes were large and had a nice, not-too-wet consistency, and rested in a terrific mild pepper and tomato sauce. The french toast was also a great choice: the cook knows to make the toast a little extra crispy so that the bananas and real maple syrup don't turn the bread to mush. Sides of cheddar grits and absurdly spicy - for brunch, at least - grilled tomatoes were disappointing, as was the price of the shot-glass of (admittedly tasty) OJ that passes for a "large".
I should add that we had breakfast on a different day at the Corner Bakery on Michigan near the Art Institute. An efficient little operation, with very good bacon-and-egg paninis and ripe strawberries in the fruit cups. A cut above in price, for a place without table service, but also a cut above in quality.