Ladies Who Brunch

Review: Kitsch’n by Benjamin
January 6, 2009, 6:55 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

We chose Kitsch’n for a farewell brunch with Jstarr before his return to DC. The lobby of the 600 W Chicago building was swarming when we arrived, so we guessed we were in for a long wait. There seemed to be some kind of business meeting or meetup taking place in the restaurant–a lot of people were introducing themselves to each other while waiting for tables. We were quoted a 30 minute wait time and had a seat on some couches in the lobby, conveniently outfitted with their own little lcd tv showing playoff football. We ended up only waiting about 15 minutes to get a booth for 3, not bad for any hot breakfast spot on Sunday, and amazing considering the line outside. All of the booths were outfitted with toasters and little games:

High School Musical Magic 8 Ball w00t!

High School Musical Magic 8 Ball w00t!

We were waited on by two servers in quick succession, and they both seemed a little flustered. I suspect the restaurant was a bit short on staff, but it didn’t effect our experience too much. Kyle and Jstarr both tried out the chipotle Bloody Mary (thumbs up) and I got a cappuccino (thumbs up, not overpriced, thumbs down, I hate cappuccino in regular coffee mugs).

Crab cakes Benedict are pretty hard to resist– it’s a combination of two of the world’s best foods, after all.

crustacean delight

crustacean delight

This is a dish that rarely disappoints us, and this version was pretty yummy. Kitsch’n scores for omitting the English muffin in their version, which is pretty unnecessary with heavily breaded crab cakes (I’m of the school of thought that crab cakes should having lots of panko/bread crumbs–I don’t really care for the lump style cake that is almost all crab meat; if that’s what I wanted I get some legs!).

I had been looking forward to Kitsch’n’s signature Fried Chicken and Waffles all morning.

Is it dinner for breakfast or breakfast for dinner?

Is it dinner for breakfast or breakfast for dinner?

The flavors of everything were spot on. I was put off by the fact that it was a boneless chicken breast–I tend to prefer dark meat, marrow and all–but once I started eating I forgot the gripe. The breading had a very similar texture and flavor to Church’s fried chicken, which I like quite a bit, certainly more than other national chicken chains. The waffles were very good as well–but how could you screw up a Belgian waffle? Calling this dish chicken and waffleS is kind of a misnomer, though, because you really only get half a waffle, and I would preferred at least a whole round. The ancho chile honey sauce was good too, smoky sweet without being too spicy, like I suspect chipotle would have been.

Here’s the breakdown:

+ 1 for one hot sauce

+ 8 for one magic eight ball

+ 2 for number of pieces of toast that can be toasted tableside

-30 for having the same number of hosts as waiters

+ 25 for outdoor seating indoors

6 points x $60 for 3 diners (with drinks!) x 1/2 for only half a waffle /6 (number of people crammed onto a table meant for 3 next to us) = 30 points


At Home: Raspberry Muffins by Benjamin
January 5, 2009, 7:20 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized
Start your day with baking

Start your day with baking

I was gonna get up and pop in a frozen pizza (it was almost noon after all) but then I remembered a box of raspberries in the icebox and decided to have a little more fun. The main muffin recipe is adapted from The Family Baking Cookbook, from the fine folks at Cooks Illustrated/America’s Test Kitchen.

Berry Muffins

3 cups self rising flour (or3 cups all purpose + T baking powder + t baking soda)

1 cup sugar

1 cup raspberry yogurt

1/2 cup milk

2 eggs

I stick butter, melted

1 1/2 cups raspberries

1 t lemon zest

1/2 t salt

Preheat oven to 375F and grease up a muffin pan. Mix the dry ingredients in a big bowl. Whisk the eggs and milk in a separate bowl. Fold into the flour mixture. Add the butter, raspberries, lemon zest, and salt and fold vigorously with a spatula. Pour into muffin pan and bake for 25-30 minutes. Enjoy!

I ate three of these...and I want another

I ate three of these...and I want another

Review: Uncle Mike’s Place by Benjamin
January 5, 2009, 7:02 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: ,
Filipino bacon ham

Filipino bacon ham

Craving a new breakfast experience close to our secret headquarters, the ladies who brunch headed out on a Saturday morning to Uncle Mike’s Place. Uncle Mike’s is pretty much your standard diner, with prices to match, but they do one thing better here than at your grand slam breakfast spot: Meat.

In addition to the regular American breakfast items, Mike offers up a few traditional Filipino breakfasts, featuring tocino,a sweet, bright red cured pig product, and longaniza, the Phillipine’s Spanish inspired garlicky chorizo.  We got the tocino, but subsituted hash browns for the typical garlic fried rice.  Neither of us was quite ready to have rice for breakfast.  The tocino was amazing and I left totally craving more of it.  It’s sweeter than regular bacon, but fattier and more flavorful than most ham.  You get a huge portion of it, too, which I’m sure is far from healthy, but more than welcome.  The filipino dishes are also accompanied by the tradtional island condiment sasawan, which looks deceptively like pico de gallo but taste more like vinegar with fish sauce–surprisingly good with eggs and hash browns.

The menu made some pretty bold claims regarding its marinated skirt steak, so we tried that as well. Does it ever make you suspicious when a restaurant claims to have “Chicago’s Best” anything? I rarely get steak and eggs so I have little basis for comparison but Uncle Mike’s puts together a stellar version. We ordered the full steak, which arrived at the table looking like it was easily 30 oz.

The dripping grease means its good

The dripping grease means its good

If you’re a steak purist who believes nothing should touch a piece of beef but salt and pepper, you’ll probably hate this steak. If you treat most food as an opportunity to soak up some condiments, however, this is the skirt steak for you. It came with eggs, toast, and fairly unremarkable hashbrowns, but I doubt I would have noticed if they never arrived. The steak held me in thrall.

Mike’s was pretty much packed to the gills when we arrived, a good mix of families, streets and sanitation guys on their lunch break, and a couple giant tables of 12-15. If a group that big settles on a restaurant, it probably has something to please everyone, so I take it as a pretty good sign. The service managed to keep up with the rush and even though our food took awhile, our coffee got refilled plenty of times, and we always come packin’ crossword puzzles anyway.

Here’s the breakdown:

+ 20 points for two hot sauces

+ 5 bonus points, no tabasco

+ 5 bonus points, one sauce was mexican

+31 points, one for each time our coffee was refilled

-32 points, the coffee was really awful

+ 25 points for having the balls to put Spam on the menu

-25 points for actually putting it on menu

Final score: 29 points X $25 for 2 diners / 33 (number of points Ben Gordon scored against the Hawks on the day in question) = 21.96 points

Review: Jane’s by Benjamin
January 5, 2009, 6:50 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Last weekend we dragged our lazy asses up to Logan Square at an ungodly hour, hoping to beat the crowds at Lula for Sunday brunch, but found that Lula was taking a much deserved winter vacay. We decided to try a spot with a similar rep for fresh, seasonal menu items and headed over to Jane’s on Cortland.

We were seated right away in a small table on an elevated platform by the window–best seat in the house, AFAIAC. One thing we loved about Jane’s was that as soon as we sat down we got a wee loaf of bread and a big pat of sweet butter. Ladieswhobrunch LOVES sweet butter. We were extra hungry after having trekked all over so we both got two courses. The highlight of the whole meal for me was the scone.

Scone, the best breakfast bread?

Scone, the best breakfast bread?

Obviously freshly baked and loaded with raspberries, the scone was buttery and light, not at all like the dry, rock hard ones usually passed of at coffee shops. Most importantly, it was served with a generous ramekin of just whipped cream. I was really pumped at first because I thought it was clotted cream, which I haven’t ever seen outside of the UK, but plain ol’ whipped cream turned out to be a pretty satisfactory condiment. And hey, did you know today is National Whipped Cream Day?

Kyle started out with a bowl of corn chowder.

a winter standby

a winter standby

There was some debate over whether or not this soup counted as a genuine chowder–the general consensus was that it was not creamy enough, probably a sign that it had just been made fresh that morning. It was a great veggie soup, the corn and carrots really held their natural flavors and weren’t overpowered by the broth (is it still broth in a chowder?).

Next was the egg course. One awesome innovation that more restaurants should adopt: Jane’s offers three eggs as the default option with most of its egg dishes. That meant three eggs Benedict:

50% more than competitors

50% more than competitors

and three sunny side up eggs with my Andouille sausage hash.

Andouille Sausage Hash

Andouille Sausage Hash

Eggs Benedict was a major success, eggs were poached perfectly, and the Hollandaise was quite good (Kyle says it could have been more lemony–she would say this about any Hollandaise not from the Medici on 57th). Kyle liked the potatoes, I thought they were perhaps a little dry.

The hash was, I thought, kind of a miss. Because it was Andouille sausage, I expected the dish to be somewhat spicy, but the sausage flavor barely came through at all. The eggs were cooked a little too long on the bottom and the yolks set rather hard, making it tough to mix the yolks in with the hash, which is kind of the point. Maybe they would be better off serving this with poached eggs? Anyway, hot sauce was badly needed to kick up this dish, but none was on the table. Our server came over to check with us right away and fill our coffee, though, so we were able to rectify the situation. Sadly, Jane’s only stocks Tabasco, which will be disastrous for their rating from this blog.

So here’s the breakdown:

-100 points for only Tabasco

+86 points for refills of goooood coffee

+12 for Sugar in the Raw

-2 Kyle doesn’t give a shit about Sugar in the Raw cuz she’s “not a hippie”

-5 for letting 5 people move from one table to another because it was “drafty”

-6 for can we park in front of this church?

-15 points(tabasco kills)X$45 for two diners / (-11, the record low temperature for the date of our visit set in Quemado, NM) = 61.36 points.