Thursday, December 27, 2012

2 Sparrows

I cannot talk about the restaurant where I went to brunch this month without first talking about Charlie Trotter's.  No matter what anyone may have thought of Charlie Trotter, the person, it cannot be denied that his restaurant was, for many years, the pinnacle of fine dining in Chicago.  Despite the fact that his restaurant is gone, his influence remains; not only in the food that is presented in area restaurants, but in the chefs themselves, who had worked in Trotter's restaurants.  There is an expectation among area diners that a chef that advertises his time with Charlie Trotter will be a talented chef.  The name applies even if the chefs are not doing the same level of fine dining that could be found at Charlie Trotter's.  The restaurant that I went to, 2 Sparrows, is almost entirely a brunch place, although they are open in the evening for some special occasions.  Located close to the heart of Lincoln Park, it's in an urban strip mall (street parking only) and is not exceptionally obvious.  The front glass window wall blends in with the businesses on either side.  The sign for the restaurant is on the window near the door.  Inside, the restaurant has high unfinished ceilings, hardwood floor, pillars, and furniture, and a small bar near the entrance that serves both liquor and coffee.  There are also cartoon style drawings of animals on the walls.  The restaurant does not take reservations so there can be a wait at times, especially with larger parties (which mine was).  When we were seated, we started out with a variety of pastries which combined sweet and savory elements.  The first pastry that we were presented was what we thought was a cinnamon roll.  It was listed on the menu as a cinnamon roll.  It looked like a very nice cinnamon roll with the requisite cinnamon and glaze and the dough was rolled but it was very dense.  It was texturally very much like a muffin.  While it did taste good, I have to say that the density made it a fail.

The next pastry however, was a definite win.  It was a Maple Bacon Doughnut.  The doughnut was of the light fluffy variety that you might find at Krispy Kreme.  It was covered in maple syrup and topped with chopped bacon.  The doughnut was light and fluffy, the syrup was sweet, and the bacon was cooked to done but not crispy so it had a nice chew to it.  This was very messy to eat and obviously required a knife and fork but it was very good.

The last pastry before we got to our main courses might be considered an acquired taste and was one of those things that sounded so weird that we had to try it. It was a Foie Gras and Cherry Pop Tart.  It looked very nice when it came out.  The pastry shell looked like a good pie crust, flaky and slightly crisp with fork sealed edges.  There was a nice, slightly tart cherry sauce spread over it and when we cut it open, it oozed more cherry sauce.  The filling was a mixture of foie gras and cherries which was very good.  It tasted primarily of cherries being sweet and tart  but the foie gras provided a depth of flavor and texture to the dish that put it over the top.  All of the pastries were very good and got us ready for our main dishes.

For my main course, I went with a spin on hash, something I have been hitting on frequently lately.  This hash was a Sweet Potato and Duck Hash which was made with cubed sweet potatoes, duck confit, and caramelized onions.  It was topped with a poached egg and served with a fresh green salad that was served with a light vinaigrette.  The hash was tender and slightly sweet from the sweet potatoes, duck confit, and caramelized onions.  The egg was poached medium.  The white was solid but the yolk was still fairly liquid.  And the salad was crisp and sour from the vinaigrette.  It was a very good dish.

There is a reason that there is a wait for 2 Sparrows.  The place looks rustic and friendly, the service is excellent, as is the food.  I would be happy to return here.

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