brunch

Yolk (brunch review)

As you may or may not know, I’m a breakfast gal.

I could eat breakfast all day everyday.  Omelets make me swoon, hashbrowns throw me into a frenzy, and don’t even get me started on a good stack of banana pancakes.

Since I now spend almost every weekend in the city, it has become a tradition to spend Sunday mornings after church with friends getting brunch.

A little story: brunch used to be one of my biggest pet peeves. Yes, right up there with loud chewers and heavy breathers, was brunch.  Why would I want to put two meals into one? Doesn’t that mean less food, less time to eat, less of an experience?

Then I turned 20 and realized I’m a suburban white girl: loving brunch is in my blood.

Brunch is an experience. You eat slower, sip on never ending cups of coffee, and don’t have to rush off to the next thing because guess what, you’re at brunch. Everything that’s important is happening all around you and the people who matter that day are eating brunch with you. Love it.

This past Sunday I was fortunate enough to grab a table at Yolk, one of the most well-known breakfast/brunch spots in Chicago.

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Yeah, the wait was pretty long! I sat out in the sun waiting for Megan to arrive from Lakeview.  I had to wait about 45 minutes which really wasn’t bad considering the amount of people both inside and outside the restaurant.  That place is really good at moving tables and getting people in.

Megan arrived just in time for us to be seated (which is good because Yolk doesn’t seat incomplete parties).  I had requested to sit outside, and it ended up being totally worth the wait.

ImageBeing in the loop downtown means that you spend 75% of your time in the shade, which isn’t a bad deal! We got to experience the nice weather (70s) but not have the sun beating down our backs. It was a gorgeous afternoon.

We sat down and quickly perused the menu. There were about a million options, as there always are at places like this.  Even though I always end up getting eggs, I curiously looked through the rest of the menu.  Highlights included:

  • Bacon and egg quesadilla: Hickory smoked bacon, scrambled eggs, and green onions ROLLED in a white flatbread with cheddar and jack cheeses. Served with salsa, sour cream, and red diced potatoes or fresh fruit.
  • Margherita frittata: tomatoes, fresh basil, and garlic scrambled with red diced potatoes. topped with fresh mozzarella and baked. Served with a side of marinara sauce.
  • Banana-blue crunch cakes: Our multigrain batter loaded with granola and fresh blueberries…topped with bananas and drizzled with honey.
  • Banana’s Foster crepes: Our crepes stuffed with bananas sautéed in butter, Crème de Banana, and brown sugar. topped with whipped cream and pecans.
  • Tour de France French Toast: A sample of our 3 special breads, french toasted. Banana Nut topped with bananas, Sweet Orange topped with strawberries, and lemon Poppy Seed topped with blueberries.

The choices were nuts.  Of course I got overwhelmed and just went with a classic omelet, served with whole wheat bread and potatoes.

ImageEverything was perfect. The only complaint that I have is that there is no way that was whole wheat bread.  Whole grain, definitely, but not whole wheat.  Silly waitress you can’t fool me.

My omelet was filled with cheddar cheese, onions, green peppers, and tomatoes.

The omelet was so so so great. I wish I could add another “so” to that description but excessiveness like that might seem like I’m exaggerating. I am not. I didn’t even need to use ketchup! Not once! That’s when you know the eggs/potatoes are good.

I ate almost the whole plate, and even the leftovers were eaten three hours later.  Megan was really happy with her scrambler too (it had pesto, potatoes, and over-easy eggs).

We enjoyed our time there for almost two hours, sipping on coffee mugs that were constantly being refilled (even if you didn’t want it to be haha).

A few small complaints about Yolk: the food is worth any trivial errors, but it’s worth mentioning the bad as well as the good. The service was definitely lacking. From the second we sat down Megan and I felt rushed to no end. It was one of those “No, I’m sorry I don’t know what I want to order yet I sat down 45 seconds ago” situations.  Our waitress didn’t smile, tell us her name, or welcome us in any way. To be honest when you’re out with your best friend that’s not the end of the world but as a waitress myself I definitely notice things like that. Also, she kept filling our coffee cups while still practically moving, spilling coffee down the sides of the mug and on the table.  Totally unacceptable and really distracting.  Luckily it made for funny conversation and Megan and I were able to slow down once we placed our order. I understand busy places like Yolk wanting to turn tables fast in order to get a lot of business, but we definitely weren’t about to rush out of there and not enjoy our time.  So once we had our food we ate slowly, sipped on our coffee, and just talked about life for awhile.  It was a wonderful time, out there on the patio, and our waitress even seemed to become friendlier as the meal went on. I’ll chalk it up to coming in at a stressful moment for her, but still not an excuse.

Overall, I would absolutely come back to Yolk.  They have three locations in the city which makes it very convenient, and you can’t deny how great the food is: they’ve been featured in multiple Chicago magazines, voted a few times as #1 breakfast in the city, and get praised constantly on Yelp.  If you have an extra hour to wait one morning and are in the city, definitely make your way to the nearest Yolk.  You won’t be disappointed!

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Visit them at : http://eatyolk.com/

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Brunch at Le Grenier (Washington D.C.)

We did lots of food crawling while in DC.  One of the best places that we stumbled upon was a little French spot near Capitol Hill:  Le Grenier

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We wanted to celebrate my friend Amanda’s birthday, which had been the weekend before. Luckily my other friend, Jully, is one of the sweetest girls ever and planned a little brunch celebration.  I actually didn’t know where we were going to eat so when I saw the name of the restaurant and realized it was French food, I was so excited! Let me tell you–the French know their way around breakfast.

Before we even sat down to order, all we could do was marvel at how beautiful the interior decorating of the restaurant was.

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The birdcages were my favorite. Such a creatively designed place!

Our waiter walked over nonchalantly and placed his hand on his hip (as only the European men can get away with).  Without cracking the slightest smile, he recited the day’s specials and brunch deal.  If this guy was an American I’d be irked over the service (as a server myself I have high standards), but because he was clearly from the restaurant scene in Paris, I think we were all simply impressed by his manner.  Tres chic 🙂

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After looking over our options, we all decided to get the brunch special: mimosas, appetizer, and entree.  I started out with a chilled strawberry and beet soup.  I was trying to be adventurous and try something new. Plus, beets seem to be a “blogger thang” so I figured I had to try them.

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Blech. It tasted like a smoothie with a dirt aftertaste.  But hey, the color was gorgeous! I love when real foods create bright colors like this!

In between appetizer and entree, we feasted on pieces of warm, crusty baguette, handed to each of us individually by our server.

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I sprinkled some salt on my bread and butter and the flavor went through the roof.

For my entree I chose (what else?) an omelet.  While some of my friends were a tad more risky and ordered the house special (blood sausage) or eggs benedict, I KNEW that I had to have a French omelet.  They always use the best cheeses and serve a simple leafy salad on the side.  This one did NOT disappoint.

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Somewhere in between all the food we toasted Amanda with one of my favorite drinks: mimosas!

ImageImageImageI love the combination of dry champagne and bright, fruity orange juice.  It’s a good thing these ones weren’t bottomless, because I’ve heard of brunch spots like that and I’m telling you it’d be bad news bears for me!

The end of our meal came with a surprise birthday dessert: profiteroles!!

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These pictures are deceiving.  There were actually two plates of this dessert, and we absolutely demolished them.  The chocolate was so thick and warm that I wanted to swim in it.  If it wasn’t such a classy establishment I definitely would have licked both plates clean.

All in all, Le Grenier was a beautiful restaurant and I would recommend it to anyone in the DC area.  I will definitely be visiting again!

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