The perfect French toast comes from an oversized brioche cut thickly enough that it can hold its own: first, against a rich custard that threatens to weigh it down, and second, against a layer of butter and a dousing of syrup that would push a weaker toast to the point of collapse. It’s crisp from a proper griddling, crunchy from toasted sliced almonds, and sweetened—but only slightly—with a dusting of powdered sugar. And it’s right here, flavored with a hint of orange zest, at Milk & Honey (1920 W Division St, 773-395-9434, $6.75).
The Potato Head
More often than not, toppings on French toast are meant only to divert from thin slices of squishy bread. Not so with the thick-cut slices of potato bread at Victory’s Banner (2100 W Roscoe St, 773-665-0227, $6.25), which are served with simple sides of peach butter and real maple syrup. Crisply griddled on the outside, custardlike on the inside, satisfying and substantial throughout: This dish is practically an advertisement for the versatility of a slice of bread.
Not so much breakfast as dessert, the bananas Foster deep-fried French toast at Heaven on Seven (111 N Wabash Ave, 312-263-6443, $9.95) tastes like cinnamon-dusted churros. That is, deliciously excessive churros that are totally socially acceptable to eat first thing in the morning, topped with caramelized bananas and pecans and—if you really want to do this thing—a drizzle of maple syrup.
The sight of French toast in a bowl at Orange (3231 N Clark St, 773-549-4400, $8.95) might be off-putting, but pull yourself together: This presentation is actually a stroke of genius. It’s not the most appetizing arrangement, but resting ricotta-stuffed brioche slices in a puddle of what is essentially a chai latte means you can have your toast as dry and sturdy—or soft and custardy—as you like.