For week 2 of our budding brunch club, Bre let me indulge my curiosity and select The Bristol (on Damen, between Shakespeare and Webster). I have had dinner and cocktails there in the past and have been blown away by not only their product, but also by their impeccable service staff’s knowledge and friendliness. The decor is a relaxed Chicago loft style that, although casual, does set a well thought out tone for the food and drink contained in the space; unpretentious and unassuming. Being in the industry ourselves, brunch ends up being around 1 p.m., so there was no wait to get a table; we sat in a quiet corner (which still felt the breeze from the open front windows) and dove into the menu.
Of course you can’t have brunch without at least a little bit of booze, but The Bristol has taken it to the next level! (of course they did, it is The Bristol after all!) The second I read the words “bacon manhattan” I got a little tingly in that place that awakens my inner fat kid. I know a manhattan isn’t many people’s idea of a light brunchy cocktail, but if you don’t have any plans involving operating heavy machinery for the rest of the day, I encourage you to try it! It is made with bacon infused Dewers, maple syrup, and garnished with a slice of candied bacon. While I was sipping on my whiskey, Bre and Josh kicked it off with The Bristol Bellini (their seasonal fruit was rhubarb). After seeing and hearing how pleased they were, I gathered all my fortitude and what was left of my sobriety (an easy feat considering I did not have much left of either after that manhattan) and ordered one for myself. I must say it was a very welcome and much needed departure from the generic mimosa you would receive at other brunches.
On to the food! This was one of the most agonizing decisions I made in my entire week! Whenever there is a benedict option, my impulse is to got for it, especially when a mustard hollandaise is involved as it was here. But I resisted… The biscuits and gravy also caught my eye, because again they are a classic and I would love to experience how The Bristol turns them out, but since Josh got them I’ll leave the commentary to him (but I will say they looked FABULOUS!) Next began the battle between the hangover breakfast and the braised pork chilaquiles… in a last second, game time decision I ordered the chilaquiles. As amazing as I’m sure the hangover breakfast is, I was ecstatic about my choice. I did however sub a poached egg for the fried one that comes with it (there’s something about the silky yolk that runs out of a perfectly poached egg and onto everything on the plate that gets me). The chilaquiles came out in a small cast iron skillet still sizzling, teeming with rustic simple flavors that paired well with my pork centric cocktail. And just as with pork and booze, I don’t consider brunch complete without hot sauce (with the exception, of course, of sweeter fare). The green sauce provided on the table took my entree to the next level, it not only added some heat, but also seemed to develop the existing flavors without overwhelming them. I’m sorry to say that I do not have any photos of my entree because I dove in right away and only came up for air, alcohol, and to express my elation…
All in all I must say that The Bristol has blown my mind yet again! Chef Chris Pandel has somehow had a dialogue with my inner fat kid and taken notes on exactly what my perfect brunch scenario is and elevated it beyond my wildest dreams! I can’t wait to return when the seasonal menu shifts. This will not be the last you hear of The Bristol on this blog.