I ride my bike to the windy city's hidden gems, lost goldmines, new kids on the block, and old standbys then tell you what to think and what to order. Check, czech, Česká it out...

Thursday, August 18, 2011

We're Just Ordinary People: Part 6, I Be-dee I Be-dee I Be-dee...Brunch

Brunch is a spellbinding attraction for many. That lazy-ass meal idly wavering between breakfast and lunch that only comes out to play on the weekends. Now-a-days Brunch has become so ubiquitous that restaurants have to separate themselves from the rest of the french toast and omlette crowd somehow...someway.

At Old Town Social the effort comes in the form of a southern twist. The brunch menu is peppered with southern specialties like biscuits, grits, and greens we don't usually eat up here in yankee country. Was this enough to get me out of bed? Maybe. Was it close enough to my house to overcome my day-off-lazyness? Yes!

–shrimp & grits–
Misconceptions abound about shrimp and grits but I'm not familiar with them so we'll move on. Essentially this classic southern combination is a culinary enigma that is both hard to mess up and difficult to get just right. David Garbuz, the man responsible for ordering this, went against one of my cardinal rules and modified this dish by adding bacon to it. Despite my initial fury this turned out to be a stroke of genius (who knew adding another pork product to a gravy that already included Tasso ham would be appropriate). The best and most concise description of this plate is that it's the best hangover food I've ever come across.

–BLT Eggs Benedict–
My counterpart who ordered this and was way too enthusiastic about the blog wanted me to write that it was a hearty and wonderful departure from the traditional bullshit that they call benedict. So I did. Just now. A seductive and refreshingly tempered roasted tomato hollandaise sauce was the highlight of the dish for me. 

–grilled sausage and waffles–
At ten in the morning on a saturday food like this makes my knees quake. There's house-smoked sausage on top of the waffle. There's bacon inside the waffle. I'll repeat. There's bacon inside the waffle. I didn't touch the syrup that came with the dish. I completely forgot about it. So there you go.

–charcuterie board a.k.a. A Plate of Meat–
One of the most interesting aspects of Old Town Social is that they cure their meat in house. To leave without trying some of them would have been an injustice. So here's to the meat:
Rillette- The richness of this dish was understated and the coupling with giardiniera was very nice.
Pastrami- I like pastrami in the same way most people like sunshine. It brightens my day. Too much of it can hurt me, but in general it's a good thing. OTS' pastrami was delicate and mild and tasty...and good. I like pastrami.
Pepperone- Not to be confused with its cousin Pepperoni, or is it? It's earthy, unhinged flavor was highlighted by a pop of paprika right in the middle. 
Chorizo- A misunderstood meat, Chorizo is often eaten in the cheapest and most over-spiced iterations available. This version downplayed the heat and emphasized the dried chili peppers and slightly herbal flavors that usually get drowned out. 
Summer Sausage- When in Rome do as the Romans do. When in summer, eat summer sausage. And we did. It was garlicky, aromatic and tender in a way that other sausages would be jealous of. 

There are no drink specials at OTS but the fact that they offer a sazerac as one their three cocktail options is special.
Mimosa- Pulpy and fresh this largely simple drink didn't wow me but when was the last time a mimosa wowed you?
Bloody Mary- The ridiculous garnish of cured meat, cheese and okra was the highlight of this drink. It lacked the heat one usually associates with the Bloody Mary.
Sazerac- This is not a morning cocktail in the way that the above drinks are. It's a complex cocktail that intertwines the flavors absinthe, Peychaud's bitters, and, most importantly, Rye whiskey. It's very good.

Brass Tacks
Brunch is rarely spectacular and Old Town Social doesn't do much to change that. It was fun and the food was good. I would be lying if I said that me and my comrades weren't fighting off the demons we called up the night before. So, then, we were blessed (rather than cursed) with a bevy of salt, meat and a touch more alcohol. This is brunch's primary function: to bring together people to reminisce, heal and eat unhealthy food slowly. In this capacity Old Town Social was a great host.

Old Town Social on Urbanspoon
Old Town Social

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