Beatrix


(Chicago, IL) — It’s inevitable: all good things must come to an end. And so it is, our trip to Chicago celebrating HeFed’s birthday wraps up with a walk down the block from our hotel for a brunch at Beatrix. Which, as it happens, is connected the another hotel, Aloft. The throngs of young folk jostling through the lobby and into the busy open air restaurant give us pause, but only for a moment...

He Fed:

I’m not expecting much from Beatrix. We’ve had some fairly cruddy meals at swanky eateries in other cities that were attached to hotels. The batting average isn’t stellar. And brunches at hotel restaurants? Even lower satisfaction rate. Still, I’m willing to keep it simple and lower my standards for a plate of eggs.

It is plenty busy for a Sunday morning. Families and slackers rub shoulders, most engaged in loud conversation that is quickly (and thankfully) lost in the spacious dining room. Our hostess seats us quickly. I like the flow of the room, with the bar extending out to become the hotel’s coffee shop. Guests and diners mingle freely, though some have trouble getting strollers out through the rotating doors.

Our waitress delivers water glasses and entices us to try the Spicy Herbal Bloody Mary. It is indeed full of black pepper and hot sauce, just the way I like them. As I fish out the speared green olives, I get a hankering for another menu item that would pair perfectly: the Potato Salad Deviled Eggs. The hard boiled halves wobble faintly on the plate as they’re delivered, filling spiked high like pompadours, shredded parsley sprinkled around strewn capers and a shallow pool of creamy mustard sauce. I pick one up, relishing the creamy texture of potato and cheese nestled in the egg cup. Delicious!

While Juliet heads for the family style brunch special, I opt for the Braised Pot Roast & Egg Sandwich with aged white cheddar and jalapeno relish. On a buttery brioche bun, the omelet—wreathed in oily cheese—lounges on top of moist, shredded beef. I slather on some of the jalapeno relish, then sink my teeth into one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had the pleasure to devour. Wow. The meat is luscious, nearly dripping; the egg possesses a depth of flavor I had no idea cheese could impart; and the bread just soaks it all in. Although Juliet appears to be pleased with her choice, I know she feels deep, soul-searing jealousy at my treasure.

Almost as an afterthought, I order a side of sausage to go with my sandwich. Three plump patties of chicken goodness, mixed with a smattering of herbs and scallions, arrive for us to share. They are cooked crisp on the outside, juicy in, salty treats that might make a vegetarian renounce all the earth’s bounty.

I cap the visit with a pint of Lagunitas’ Lil Sumpin Sumpin. Despite (or perhaps because of) my lowered expectations, Beatrix blew me away. It is exactly the balm I need after the disappointment of Graham Elliot Bistro, and elevates our final weekend experience to that of our first at La Madia (not to mention a fantastic meal at Eataly’s La Carne, about which we did not write).

We pay up and saunter back to our hotel, where we check out, collect our luggage, and catch a cab back to the train station. Goodbye for now, Windy City...but not for long.

She Fed:

I really just want to burrow under the covers for another hour and order up some blueberry pancakes on room service, but Jeremy’s made brunch reservations at Beatrix and it’s highly recommended. Isn’t it funny how taking a shower and prettying up are so routine during the week, but such a laborious chore on the weekend?

After a few dramatic sighs from me and a few “hurry ups” from Jeremy we strike out for a chilly but quick walk to Beatrix. The place is packed though we get us a great window seat. Lots of coffee and a mimosa for me as we peruse the menu. We decide to start with the Potato Salad Deviled Eggs and the Chicken Sausages. The eggs are sublime, with mashed potato mixed into the filling. The texture is slightly odd at first, but when you realize it’s the best of both worlds it’s hard to stop eating them! The sausages are nicely spiced and quite good, but the eggs are much more inventive to me.

Today’s brunch special sounds especially delicious, “Family Style Breakfast Chilaquiles.” I’ve only recently discovered chilaquiles, having tried them in San Francisco a few years back for breakfast. Soft scrambled eggs, crispy tortillas, salsa, and sour cream...what’s not to love? And after a weekend of debauchery, this sounds like just the thing to soak up some of the last night’s excesses.

Our waitress explains that at Beatrix “Family Style” means buffet, which for me is a turn off. I attend enough food and wine events for my job that waiting in line for food is low on my list. And the term buffet conjures up images of sneeze guards which are just plain gross. I must pull a face when she says “buffet” because she adds that it’s small and “curated” as the chefs are keeping everything very fresh and hot.

I’m a sucker for the word curated and my resolve folds. Once Jeremy’s brunch sandwich arrives, I head over to find a small table filled with chilaquiles fixin’s. Freshly fried tortilla chips, roasted chicken meat, scrambled eggs (not soft scrambled, but much better looking than I imagined), a bevy of hot sauces and several bowls of sour cream, guacamole, salsa, pico de gallo, scallions, refried beans, shredded cheeses, etc.

I fix my plate with a little bit of everything, sans the chicken as we just gobbled up those sausages. Essentially I’ve got a great plate of breakfast nachos: scrambled eggs, cheese, beans, chips, sour cream, and guacamole. The chips are fried in-house; I watched them pull a basket from the fryer while I piled up my plate. Yes, the eggs would have been better had they been scrambled to order, but all in all, it’s an incredibly tasty breakfast.

I’ve moved onto a Blue Mimosa made with blueberry juice and it’s so yummy I order another. Three mimosas with brunch? So much for starting the day off right. Although I suppose it depends on your definition.


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