Hearty Brunches

Brunch is one of my absolute favorite things. It’s usually a simple meal but can cure your morning-after ails or just be a good kickstart to the day. I’ve tried countless brunch spots around the city and had some amazing to not-so-great dishes. Regardless, I never pass up an opportunity for brunch and go as often as possible.

It was a lazy Sunday and what better way to start the day than with brunch. After debating among several options, Gary and I finally decided on Hearty Restaurant. One reservation and short drive later, we were there and ready to eat. The menu claims that it’s “comfort revisited” and the dishes definitely reflect that. I went with the Cajun Benedict, two spicy crab cakes with poached eggs, an English muffin and Cajun hollandaise served with homestyle potatoes.

The Benedict was on point, although I wish there would’ve been more crab cake. What really enhanced the meal were our sides—house cut fries with garlic aioli and the grilled bacon sausage. It was as good as it sounds; juicy and sausage like you’ve never had. Gary ordered another comfort food staple, chicken and waffles, while our friend went with the Red Velvet Breakfast Dog. We were all intrigued by the description and to sum it up, it was a corn dog coated in red velvet batter. The chicken and waffles were also a bit different, with a boneless piece of chicken instead of the traditional fried chicken variety.

Perhaps the most amusing part of the meal was the Tang cube mimosas. My friends were each given a glass of Champagne with two small cubes of Tang, yes like the drink you had when you were a little kid. The cube dissolves in the glass and eventually turns the drink orange while giving it a Tang-y kick. It’s a fun twist on the morning cocktail that kind of makes your feel young again along with the cartoons playing on the television. It truly did feel like revisiting comfort as a child.

Continuing on the brunch train, I was in my favorite neighborhood—Lincoln Park—one afternoon and decided to check out one of the newer spots that recently opened, 2 Sparrows. Started by two Charlie Trotter’s veterans, the new joint is a venture into upscale breakfast/lunch, or so it claims. To be honest it seemed like any other regular restaurant to me, but I digress.

As expected, it was a packed house for a Saturday afternoon. After about a half hour wait, we were seated. They have a fair list of morning cocktails and I settled on one whose name escapes me, but was gin based with hints of apricot. For food, I had the belly sandwich, a slab of pork belly and a sunnyside egg between a biscuit, served with tots. I also wanted to order the maple and bacon doughnut but they were out, which bums me out because I’m still getting random cravings for it despite not knowing what it actually tastes like. A foie gras pop tart was also on the menu but is for far braver eaters than me.

Pork belly has become a culinary trend of sorts recently, although I’ve yet to completely grow sick of it. That said, the sandwich was good but nothing to write home about. It was just missing a little something to push it over the top. The egg also made a nice mess of my hands. The accompanying tots were a real treat though. These were the largest tots I’ve ever had, finely shredded and fried. Sadly, I only received four of them and was left wanting more when my plate was finished. Actually, I was left wanting more food, period, at the end of the meal because I was still hungry. The portion sizes aren’t terribly large so you might want to consider ordering a side (tots!) or pastry. If only they hadn’t been out of those doughnuts…

Minor complaints aside, Hearty and 2 Sparrows are both solid places that further reinforced my love for brunch. I heart it, I really do.

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