Sunday, September 30, 2012

Bread & Wine - Brunch

I enjoy meeting friends for brunch and their are a lot of places in the city where to have brunch.  As the friends that I generally dine with think that I am an expert on good restaurants so they leave it to me to choose a nice place.  I like to bounce around and try different places in different neighborhoods so this month we went to Bread & Wine in Old Irving Park.  While it is located on Irving Park Road, it's a few blocks away from other restaurants in the neighborhoods.  It is located in a former laundromat so the building is a single floor with a front window wall and it's own parking lot, a rarity in the city.  The dining room has a very open floor plan with tables on the right side of the dining room and two long counters, one around the bar and the other in front of the open kitchen.  The left side of the room has wine and beer, and a selection of specialty products like Vosges Chocolate and Terry's Toffee for sale.  There is a 10% discount on market purchases on the same day that you dine.  For brunch, I sat at the bar where I had a good view of the rest of the restaurant.  There were many things on the menu that looked really appetizing but I decided to start out with Cured Pork Belly, a Crispy Poached Egg, Cheddar Grits, and Fresno Chili Hot Sauce.  There was also a lettuce garnish.  Bacon is cured pork belly so this was prepared the same way as bacon but it was served as a steak cut.  I have to say that I really liked bacon steak.  The egg was interesting.  I liked it but it did puzzle me a little.  Poached eggs are not crispy.  I have to think that it had to have been fried to finish it.  The cheddar grits were as one might expect of grits with cheddar cheese and the spicy and tangy Fresno Chili Sauce went well with everything.

While this was very good and I could have stopped here, I decided to go for a brunch dessert.  There were a couple of things that sounded interesting but I had to go with something that to me was potentially a little challenging.  I had the Salted Caramel Popcorn Panna Cotta.  The dish arrived in a small mason jar.  The panna cotta was on the bottom and was topped with the caramel sauce.  The popcorn was also caramel coated and topped off the jar.  The dish was very pretty and looked very appetizing.  As I have said before, I am not a huge fan of popcorn.  I can appreciate how it can contribute visually to a dish but generally do not care for it texturally.  In this case though, the crunchiness of the popcorn was the perfect complement to the creaminess of the panna cotta.  And what's not to like about salted caramel?  It was a great dish.

I really enjoyed brunch here and will definitely be back.  The food was very good and the staff was friendly.  There are many things on the menu that look appetizing that I will have to be back for.  I will also have to come back some time for dinner.

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