Chicago Day 4 – Brunchin’ @ Bongo

E loves a good brunch. Every city we’ve visited (in North America), we’ve included at least one brunch stop. In NYC, we hit West Village’s Jane Restaurant & Nougatine @ The Trump Tower.  When it was time for me to do research on Chicago, The Bongo Room was pretty much mentioned as the must-brunch-here option of the city.

1152 S Wabash Ave
Chicago, IL 60605
(312) 291-0100

E & I don’t like line rides, so we made sure we woke up early enough to beat the reputed waits @ The Bongo Room. We were in the mood for something sweet today, so when we were presented menus, our eyes immediately darted to the pancakes and French toast sections.  E tried to talk us out of going here as well. He said he didn’t feel like a typical “American Brunch” that day. I said that this was supposed to be way better.  I didn’t budge, and I’m glad I didn’t. The menu was full of whimsical treats: Red Velvet Cocoa Hotcakes topped with warm vanilla creme, Chocolate Tower French Toast (I originally wanted this, but then I spied my foe… the lowly banana) made with a bittersweet chocolate chunk stuffed bread and warm maple mascarpone & a brown sugar brioche French toast with warm vanilla bean creme, brown butter caramelized Bartlett pears & dried cherries.  Now this is what I call a Brunch menu.

We quickly decided on the Red Velvet Hotcakes, and the Brown Sugar Brioche French Toast.  The room itself was very inviting and had ample sunlight streaming through their windows. I liked the clean lines of the place.  It was their newest location (I’ve heard the Wicker Park location is murder to get into).  Besides, this was closer and we had the Gourmet Food Fest to hit right afterward (yes, it was an ambitious eating schedule kind of day).

It took a while for our food to arrive, but when it arrived — wow — it was so worth the wait. The vanilla bean creme aroma wafted up from my French Toast as I was taking photos. E’s Red Velvet hotcakes were a miraculous shade of red and I liked it. His hotcakes looked moist and yummy, unlike many Red Velvet cupcakes I’ve seen in the past.  On looks alone, I think my French Toast won, but that’s only because I don’t like unnaturally red food items.

Heavenly. That’s how my French Toast tasted. Though a touch sweet, I wouldn’t change anything. It was almost like having a sinful dessert for breakfast – I felt so naughty! The crumbled, toasted oatmeal on top made me almost feel like I was being healthy. It also provided a nice textural contrast to my fluffy toasts.  E absolutely adored his hotcakes. He’s not one to care for chocolate much (which is why I was surprised when he ordered Red Velvet…. he later confessed he had no idea what Red Velvet was), so for him to enjoy it for breakfast is a huge feat. Bravo to Bongo!

The portions are ridiculously large (very American-style brunch), but the perfect size to nurture the soul.  If we didn’t have an all-you-can-eat buffet coming up, we probably could have finished the last few bites, but we refrained and my stomach was happier for it.  That was my second favourite French Toast of all time (after Nougatine in NYC) and my favourite pancakes of all time.  Yum!  In retrospect, we probably shouldn’t have both ordered something with the same vanilla creme topping, but it was such a good sauce that we really didn’t mind.  We mopped up every last bit of the sauce with our fluffy cakes and toasts and left extremely satisfied. E thought his entry won. I disagreed and thought my toast was better. Since E is the official judge, I lost. However, I don’t think the system is fair. I think I’ll have to discuss this with him later. Overall, a great meal for about $10 per person + tax/tip. Get there early, or be prepared to wait.

Next stop – – Chicago’s Gourmet Food Festival

4 Responses to “Chicago Day 4 – Brunchin’ @ Bongo”
  1. Mariko says:

    I think I am now buying my ticket to chicago.
    I don’t like red velvet either (what’s with the craze?) but I’m making an exception for these pancakes.

  2. Bill says:

    The photos certainly make me mouthwatering. Please show me more photos. I love them…. Yum Yum.

    • The last day of my Chicago trip is still forthcoming. I will post it ASAP! Not much eating on the last day, but I’ll fill in some of the other days with more pictures of the city and some snacks (including Intelligentsia coffee)

  3. Thanks for stopping by, Mariko! They were absolutely scrumptious pancakes, so I’m sure you won’t be disappointed for making an exception this one time ;). I’m not a native of Chicago, but I had a great time. If you want to see a blog from Chicago Natives that is really good – check out . If you have any questions about the places I visited, feel free to post again and I’ll get back to you ASAP.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: