Apr 182014
Bloody Mary Bar | Davanti Enoteca

Bloody Mary Bar

If you love Bloody Mary’s like I love Bloody Mary’s, then consider a visit to Davanti Enoteca (30 East Hubbard). Their massive Build-Your-Own Bloody Mary Bar makes an appearance on Saturday and Sunday between 10am-3pm. It’s worth getting up early to go.

For only $10, you can build the drink of your dreams. Plan on spending more, however, because you’ll need at least two trips through the bar to overcome decision paralysis. Why? The bar comes with conceivable ingredient you could possibly put into a Bloody Mary.

Choose between jars of meat straws, carrot sticks, or bacon-wrapped asparagus, and then skewer as many peppers, tomatoes, stuffed and unstuffed olives, or cheese as you wish. The back of the bar is lined with too many hot sauces to name. You even have your choice of salt.

My Bloody Mary Masterpiece was loaded with spicy mix, shrimp, bleu-cheese stuffed olives, as many stalks of celery as I could stuff into the glass, and two dashes of bacon salt and hot sauce. I half-expected the glass to topple over!

Pecan Praline French Toast | Davanti Enoteca

Pecan Praline French Toast

You need a few items to nibble while enjoying the Bloody Mary, right? Davanti has a lengthy selection of brunch dishes to try.

Highlights of the menu included a savory Pork Belly and Potato Hash with soft poached eggs that added a runny umami quality. Paired with a full-on slab of Thick-cut Bacon, dotted with tomatoes, it’s guaranteed to complete your morning.

On the sweet side, the French Toast with cinnamon butter and a bourbon-infused maple syrup will satisfy, but don’t stop there — the Davanti staff can reach into Glazed & Infused‘s kitchen for your favorites. The Maple Bacon Long John should be something everyone tries once, though I’m a particular fan of the lowly Vanilla Bean Glazed Doughnuts and Apple Fritters.

Love coffee? Davanti serves their own blend from Sparrow Coffee. No matter how you take your coffee, this is an incredibly good cup from an amazing local roaster. I’ll see you there!

Enjoy more brunch…

I was not financially compensated for this post. Brunch was provided to me for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.

Apr 062014
Omelet Station | Devon Seafood Restaurant

They’ll throw crab meat into your made-to-order omelet.

Devon Seafood Grill (39 East Chicago Avenue) invited me to check out their new brunch offering, now available on Sundays between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Brunch is an all-you-can-eat buffet for a fixed price of $45/adult, $16/child under 12. Drinks, including brunch cocktails, coffee, or choices from the extensive wine list, are extra.

If you plan to go for Easter Brunch, there’s a special menu for that particular Sunday.

Crabs | Devon Seafood Restaurant

Crab legs are included in the buffet.

Items that might not normally expect to see at brunch include a chilled seafood display featuring smoked trout, oysters on the half shell, sushi, and shrimp cocktail. Each seafood item seemed to have its own sauce or accompaniment choice, so you could mix and match taste sensations to your heart’s content. I zeroed in on the char crusted Ahi tuna with a little pickled ginger and didn’t look back. There’s also a chef-service station for deletable Steamed Alaskan Red King Crab Legs, if you have a mind to crack some shells.

Though Devon is known for their seafood, I thought the standard breakfast items were particularly well done. I filled up a couple of times on the homemade granola with yogurt and fresh mix of juicy blackberries, strawberries and blueberries. The pastries were flakey, sweet — much better than I expected, as were the biscuit and gravy.

Chocolate Tarts | Devon Seafood Restaurant

Chocolate Tarts are one of the many desserts.

If you crave more savory lunch items, then load up on the lobster macaroni and cheese or crab cake stuffed mushrooms. Or go for the more traditional salads, cheeses, or chicken. Though you may have eaten too much, browse the dessert table for a panna cotta or key lime tart. They’re worth the splurge in calories.

Devon is a great place to stop in for brunch if you’re headed to the Mag Mile for a day of shopping, or if you just happen to be in the neighborhood. The only downside? Their tasty and dangerously addicting cheese biscuits weren’t on the brunch menu, which means you’ll need to go back for dinner, too.

Enjoy more of brunch…

I was not financially compensated for this post. Brunch was provided to me for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.

Mar 282014

Carnivale (702 W Fulton Street), long a festive destination for Latin fare in Chicago, recently added brunch to their repertoire. They invited me to take a bite. Or two. Or three…who am I kidding? I tried all the bites.

Make an entrance
I arrived at Carnivale to the sound of violins rocking Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. This orchestral anthem set the stage for an awesome meal, and though this wasn’t done to impress me, it will go down as the best entrance I’ve made to a restaurant. Kudos.

If you’re planning your own dramatic appearance, don’t fret. The ensemble plays every weekend for brunch. Their covers of classic rock songs are sure to keep you dancing in your chair.

Key Lime French Toast | Carnivale

The Key Lime French Toast was the table favorite.

Quenching the thirst
As expected, the coffee came fast and was quite good. I took a few sips of caffeine as well as a few of vuelve a la vida, a pulpy apple nectar, before the temptation of white sangria became too hard to resist. My advice? Skip to the sangria. Dotted with fresh apple and tropical fruits, it’s a sweet, refreshing, and loaded way to start the most important meal of the day.

An appetizing start
Brunch at Carnivale has starters, believe it or not. Our waiter brought us smoked salmon flatbread, with salmon layered atop a thick dill ricotta and onion relish. The dish was completely outclassed by the bacon wrapped dates. It’s hard to beat sweet fruit encased with cured meat and drizzled with honey vinaigrette, right?

If you were going to try to beat the dates, the calamari would be a contender. Carnivale amps up the heat of this dish by mixing a sweat and sour adobo sauce to pour over perfectly tender fish and julienned papaya and carrots. The combination of sweet and heat was irresistible and we licked the plate clean.

Carnitas Chilaquiles | Carnivale

The Carnitas Chilaquiles were smokey, spicy and delicious.

The main course
The entrees cater successfully to both team sweet and to team savory. On the sweeter side, we tried the churro style waffle first. I initially thought the waffle came with syrup but it turned out to be a rich, Mexican chocolate ganache. This addition, drizzled over the cinnamon-dusted waffle, completely transformed the dish from nice to wowza.

The key lime french toast was even more amazing. The thick slices of perfectly toasted bread were stuffed with a tart-sweet key lime filling and floated in a deletable pineapple syrup. Blueberries and strawberries added a fresh contrast. Don’t let the ugly presentation fool you, it was the best thing on the menu. So yummy.

The savory side fans don’t lack for things to try. On the waiter’s recommendation, we ordered the skirt ‘n eggs. The steak was unbelievably tender, and with the addition of tangy chimichurri and runny eggs, it was over the top good.

The carnitas chilaquiles were also served with an egg on top. Unlike the steak, the corn chips didn’t hold up so well against the tomatillo or runny yolk. The spicy, soggy mess tasted great, but couldn’t compete against the better entrees on the table.

Tempting dessert
If you have room and are so inclined, Carnivale has a weekend doughnut special from nearby Glazed and Infused. I had no room, but still managed a maple long john with a long strip of bacon on top. There’s always space for that.

Turns out, there was also room for the Red Velvet French Toast — a chocolatey cake served with burnt meringue and topped with sour cream ice cream and pineapple syrup. I didn’t care for the ice cream, per se, though it went well with the dish and was meant to be the “cream cheese” frosting. Unlike many renditions of red velvet cake, this was neither over-baked or under-flavored. I may get order it again, or go for the Ecuadorian dark chocolate dipped bacon. Bacon candy sounds decadent, doesn’t it?

Fit the bill
Prices for dishes run between $6 and $15. With drinks, expect to pay around $40 per person. It’s a little on the high side for brunch, but has the advantage of a spacious atmosphere, large group accommodation, and entertainment. There are some stand-out dishes on the menu, though the food is uniformly good and worth the calories.

Have you been to the new brunch at Carnivale? Let me know what you ordered!

Enjoy more bites…

I was not financially compensated for this post. Brunch for two was provided to me for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.