Best Bites, Chicago

Best Bites: Chocolate cinnamon roll & gas station sandwich, City Mouse

Chocolate cinnamon roll with espresso and marshmallow

Chocolate cinnamon roll with espresso and marshmallow

City Mouse is the all-day eatery inside the West Loop’s still-new Ace Hotel. It’s helmed by Jason Vincent, currently of Giant and formerly of Nightwood. I’ve missed Nightwood’s brunch since they closed 2 years ago, so I was hoping City Mouse would be somewhat of a reincarnation.

We had to start with this cinnamon roll, which combined all the best dessert flavors (espresso, chocolate, caramel, and marshmallow) into a caramelized morning masterpiece. I would easily go back for that alone.

Gas station sandwich with hashbrown, egg, cheese, grape jelly, and sausage, served with Michigan-grown fruit

Gas station sandwich with hashbrown, egg, cheese, grape jelly, and sausage, served with Michigan-grown fruit

I already knew the gas station breakfast sandwich was emerging as an early favorite from the brunch menu, so I had to try it for myself. And sure enough, I was delighted to find that the hashbrowns bore a striking resemblance to the ones served with Nightwood’s legendary bagel sandwich – just in a flatter form. The humble grape jelly did its job in pulling the meat, egg, and cheese together, and even the fruit on the side was an especially pleasant mix of apricots, strawberries, and blueberries. We sat on the sprawling glass-walled patio, whose fire pits will surely make it a hit into the cooler months as well.

Glass-walled patio, with a view of Google across the street

Glass-walled patio, with a view of Google across the street

The details: City Mouse at Ace Hotel Chicago, 311 N. Morgan St., Chicago.

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Chicago, Restaurant Week

Chicago Restaurant Week 2015: Brunch at Knife & Tine

This is part of a series of posts about Chicago Restaurant Week 2015, held January 30–February 12. Check out recaps from 2014 and 2013, or browse all Restaurant Week coverage.

Knife & Tine Brunch

Breakfast sandwich, Knife & Tine

Breakfast sandwich with coffee-cured bacon, fried egg, cheddar, and house mayonnaise with fingerling potatoes

Best Bite: I’m happy to report that my first-ever Restaurant Week brunch was a major success. Knife & Tine’s menu price included an entree, two sides, and a drink, so our group of six ordered strategically in an effort to taste as many different things as possible. I was floored by the sheer variety of rich, creative dishes that eventually hit our table: cheesy grits, smoky pork sausage patties, buttery fingerling potatoes, nutty pumpkin bread, fluffy biscuits with cardamom-scented cara cara orange jam – and those were just the sides! My breakfast sandwich combined many of the best flavors on the table, especially the mingling of fried egg with bacon cured in brown sugar, coffee, and cinnamon.

Salted butterscotch croissant-style donut, Knife & Tine

Salted butterscotch croissant-style donut

Other notes: They weren’t technically on the Restaurant Week menu, but the salted butterscotch croissant-style donuts were fantastic (and helped me understand the cronut craze a little bit better). I also loved the cinnamon biscuit beignets, a plateful of sugary, bite-size rounds with a vanilla bean dipping sauce. As a bonus, our group was fortunate enough to sit at the chef’s table, enclosed by silver-toned wallpaper and a crystal chandelier overhead.

The details: Knife & Tine, 1417 W. Fullerton Ave., Chicago.

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Best Bites, Chicago

2013 Best Bite #20: Breakfast sandwich, Floriole Cafe & Bakery

Each day in December, I’m celebrating the rest of the best bites (and sips) that I didn’t get to blog about in 2013, posted in chronological order. Browse all of this year’s Best Bites, or look back at 2012’s Best Bites.

Breakfast sandwich of baked egg on baguette with butterkase and bacon

Breakfast sandwich of baked egg on baguette with butterkase and bacon

Why it’s another 2013 Best Bite: I’ve sampled Floriole’s beautifully crafted pastries at markets and coffee shops all over the city, but didn’t make it into the bakery itself until one rainy fall morning. Creamy baked egg and a smooth layer of butterkase cheese hid beneath a giant X of bacon strips draped over the baguette, making this simple, filling breakfast sandwich one of my favorites this year. And I always appreciate a great fruit cup on the side — this one even had figs! Once I added in a latte and a good book, I officially forgot about the storm outside.

The details: Floriole Cafe & Bakery, 1220 W. Webster Ave., Chicago.

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