I went to the Patio Preview event at Cafe Brauer's patio yesterday, May 10, which was my first introduction to Cafe Brauer, although I'm certainly familiar. Set on a small pond at the entrance to Lincoln Park Zoo (with the Chicago skyline as a backdrop), this establishment is pretty much a Chicago institution and an iconic spot for weddings and celebrations. The building is over 100 years old, and it feels that way--there's nothing new or hip about this spot, if that's what you're into. But it delivers a charming setting for a romantic date night or a place to take out-of-towners for the first time (paired with a visit to the zoo).
The margaritas -- a blood orange and a spicy jalapeno -- were nice and easy to drink, and they were especially enjoyable because they were served by such a charismatic, friendly bartender. The entire staff seemed quite friendly and eager to please at the event, in fact. The food was solid bar fare, including a buttermilk fried chicken breast sandwich, an Impossible Burger, and a patio pub burger, alongside a Greek and Caesar salad. The dessert was an easy crowd-pleaser -- a nutella panini with strawberries, powdered sugar, and whipped cream (although I'm still partial to the classic crepe, myself). The food items were, all in all, well-executed American standards.