review

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/

The Pump Room

Last night I had the pleasure of dining at The Pump Room inside the Public hotel in Chicago.  Zman and I had been planning a fancy date night this weekend but since we gorged ourselves on pizza for lunch, we wanted to save this restaurant for a day when we could really appreciate it. I’m so happy we did because this was a meal to remember.

ImageThe minute we walked into the dining room we knew it was going to be an exceptional experience.

ImageI absolutely love lanterns and think it’s so cool when people incorporate them into decorations, so walking into a dim room full of these orbs was a pleasant surprise. Zman requested a booth when he made the reservation (the man knows he has a high-maintenance girlfriend…such a sweetheart) so we had a half-circle booth made for at least five people all to ourselves. It was so nice to sit next to each other and look out on the gorgeous dining room.

The menus were handed out on clipboards. Such a pinterest-esque thing to do!

The menus were handed out on clipboards. Such a pinterest-esque thing to do!

ImageWe started with a Raspberry Lychee Bellini that we shared simply because we both feel guilty going to fancy places and not drinking. To be honest, Zman and I aren’t big drinkers. Sure we go out, but at meals you’ll never see us ordering beers with our burgers or wine with our pasta. I’d much rather save room for more food!

The cocktail didn’t blow us away. It was a mix of La Marca Prosecco and homemade raspberry-lychee syrup but it just wasn’t sweet enough for what we were expecting.

ImageAfter we had placed our dinner orders, the server brought out a cutting board with slices of freshly baked bread, high quality olive oil, and a dish of sea salt. As an avid bread eater I’m used to seeing bread with parmesean cheese in this situation. But surprisingly I really loved the addition of sea salt on top of the bread. The salt and the oil seemed like they really brought out the flavor in each other. Who would’ve thought?

Our food came out pretty fast for such a high-class place. We were expecting to be waiting an hour or so but everything was out in less than 20 minutes.

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Zain liked his burger, but I know he would have liked a Five Guys burger just as much if not better. He only goes to fancy-pants places like this for me (AND for the dessert—which we’ll get to in a second!)

I had researched The Pump Room and was initially excited for the crab toast and baked lobster.  Sadly, the waitress explained to us that their suppliers from the East coast had said the product wasn’t up to quality so they had to temporarily keep it off the menu.  At first I was disappointed, but then I realized how amazing it was that this restaurant stood by its standards. If the fish wasn’t going to blow me away like it normally would, why would I want it? They were totally upfront and honest about the issue and I really respect restaurants that do that.

We looked to our server for other suggestions, since my research was thrown out the window.  She recommended the organic fried chicken, something I have never had in my life. I would never have considered it normally, but she explained that it wasn’t actually fried the way I was thinking.  It was two pieces of boneless chicken, a breast and a thigh, that is flash fried so it only retains 2% of the oil and still retains its natural moisture and health qualities. The intensity of the heat and the quickness of the exposure to the oil made it unlike anything “fried” I’d ever had. It tasted crunchy but not dry or greasy whatsoever. I would have never ordered this entrée without her input, and served over creamed corn and a sweet chili puree, it was delicious.

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Ok…now dessert. Sweet mother of GOD was dessert good.

Deep dish cookie filled with chocolate and topped with chocolate malt ice cream.

ImageWe finished this dish in three minutes. The minute I cut into it and the hot chocolate poured out of the cookie I let out an audible groan. It was such beautiful chocolatey goodness.  I almost ordered another one.

We will definitely be returning to The Pump Room. I can’t wait to try the crab toast and baked lobster, and I absolutely want to try every dessert that they have to offer. Maybe one night we’ll forgo dinner and just order one of each! We left the restaurant full but not overly stuffed, and it made our mile-long late night stroll full of conversation about how satisfied we were with the experience.