Notes on our (very essential) brunch issue
This week's issue is particularly packed with food and drink coverage: We've got a pretty positive review of Goosefoot, a scathing review of BLT and some tasting notes on the breakfasty dinner menu at the new Jam. Heather Shouse digs into the new location of Chicago's only Eritrean restaurant, while I explore the trend of putting cocktails on tap. We've even got some spots to watch the Super Bowl, which is personally my favorite baseball game of the year.
But let's put all that aside for a moment and talk about brunch. I'll start with a short story.
Many weeks ago, in preparation for our special brunch issue (which came out today), I found myself waiting in line at a very popular brunch spot near my house. I had attempted to get there early to beat the crowds, but as I came within a couple blocks of the restaurant at 9am I saw I was already too late—a crowd of people milled about outside the place, waiting for a table and drinking free coffee.
The wait wasn't terribly bad—about 30 minutes—and once I got inside I understood why: The food arrived at breakneck speed. Our total time at the table—ordering, eating, paying—was probably about the same amount of time we had spent waiting.
The food was fine, but the experience on the whole was simply idiotic. What could possibly explain how popular this place is besides masochism? There is nothing pleasant about being rushed, unless, maybe, the food you are being rushed to eat is of extraordinary quality. Here, it wasn't. All around Chicago, there are restaurants doing it better.
This is what Julia Kramer is getting at (in a much more eloquent way) in her essay The Case For A Better Brunch. And this is what our entire team attempted to address in every story in our brunch issue. Why, we asked, should we settle for mimosas when we can drink the tequila-cucumber-cumin cocktail called pepino el pyu instead? Why would we compromise our penchant to eat both a sweet and savory brunch when there are plenty of places that offer ways to reasonably eat both? And if we really just can't wait to, well, wait for our brunch ( does come at a price, after all), can't we at least wait the least possible amount of time? Yes. Yes we can. These charts explain it all.
Along the way we've identified some great examples of breakfast sandwiches, quiche, eggs Benedict, huevos rancheros and French toast. And yet I know that some will read this package and ask where their favorite brunch spot is. Why isn't on our list of the 20 Essential Brunches? Where is ? Where is ? I think we do a good job of explaining in the package. But if you still don't get it, try asking again the next time you wait in line, in the cold, only to eat a stack of pancakes that taste as if they've been waiting around for 30 minutes, too.