Imagine this: It’s Monday morning, and you don’t have to work. You were out late last night (yes, Sunday night), and now you’re moving lethargically, hungoverly, to get something to eat. And maybe a cocktail.
Sound plausible? Congratulations, you work in the restaurant industry! (Or you don’t work at all. Good for you!) For years, your own industry has turned its back on you, leaving you with limited options on a Monday. But Bangers & Lace (1670 W Division St, 773-252-6499) started a Monday “industry” brunch, so that’s where you’ll be.
Or not. When we checked out the Monday brunch, it was empty save the (industry) folks who were working it. Why were we there and not at work? Because we wanted to experience a brunch menu where literally every item contains sausage. Crispy chicken and hearty waffles? It’s chicken sausage. Egg-topped gravy fries? That’s sausage in the gravy. A light, tender veggie frittata topped with fennel fronds? Vegetarian sausage. Christ, is this really how the industry eats?
Us nonindustry folks choose more civilized options. Such as the, uh, well…the cream cheese–slathered burger at the new Sunday brunch at the Bedford (1612 W Division St, 773-235-8800). When this place opened in the spring, chef Mark Steuer was lambasted for putting out burgers so rare they bordered on raw. That was not a problem at brunch, when the burger came out as we asked for it (medium). With cream cheese, tomato, bacon, a fried egg and hot sauce, this thing is a beast. But it works, and the doubly crisp potatoes on the side are good enough to be problematic, taking up stomach space needed for the burger and/or a funky, nuanced and very delicious kimchi Bloody Mary. A pleasantly dense, plate-size johnnycake with mascarpone and preserved blueberries is also an expansive thing to put in your stomach. But this is the Bedford’s brunch M.O.: ballsy, filling and without apology. (Further proof of this: An omelette, perhaps the lightest item on the menu, was a boring bust.)
In search of more dim rooms in which we could spend our first hours of the morning perusing liquor bottles, we found Tiny Lounge (4352 N Leavitt St, 773-463-0396), which began serving brunch this summer. We also found a breakfast sandwich with a perfectly over-medium egg on ciabatta, the most expertly fried little nubbins of breakfast potatoes (i.e., what you call it when you want to eat french fries for breakfast) and the brunch cocktail we always hoped existed but never thought we’d find, La Bastarda, which the bar describes as the bastard child of a mimosa, Bloody Mary, bellini and margarita. Imagine that.