My summer of traveling concluded with a quick trip to Chicago with my girlfriend Brittany to visit our dear friends, Sally and Seth. I was definitely hoping for an exclamation point to punctuate all that I’ve done with my extended time off, and I have to say, this was it.
Of course there was serious eating and drinking on the agenda, but one pretty big visit was to Beacon Tavern for brunch. Beacon Tavern was an important must do because Sally was one of the designers on the project through the firm, Perkins + Will. We knew we’d be treated to awesome food, but getting to walk through the space while Sally detailed the design decisions was even more fun. When you’ve got super cool friends, doing super cool things, you can’t help but feel giddy when you get an opportunity to see a final product. I know how hard Sally works and getting to check out this spot made me admire her more than I already do.
Something else to be admired? The food…
Beacon Tavern’s menu is exactly what I look for in a menu – not a ton of options but every last item is tempting. So while many things jumped off the page, the first thing we all immediately agreed upon was the smoked salmon dip. Before I chronicle this starter, do know I am still thinking about it. Calling it delicious doesn’t even do it justice.
I am a huge fan of bagels and lox, and this was that served as a dip plus more. All the core makings were there – egg, capers, onion, salmon – but instead of cream cheese, there was crème fraîche, and instead of bagels, there was pumpernickle. We were all polite with one slice of toast in the beginning, splitting the leftover pieces with each other, but after another round of bread, we descended into savagery, fighting for a chance to be the one to lick the jar clean. I know I was personally trying to play it cool and just nibble here and there, but with every bite, I stopped listening and participating in conversation and would have a moment with myself to savor. When you make the trip, this is an absolute must.
When it came to deciding on an individual meal, I was quick to pick out my dish because it was precisely the brunch option I was craving. I ordered the shrimp and chorizo omelette, with queso fresco, spinach, asparagus, gruyere, and breakfast potatoes. The eggs were cooked perfectly and the chorizo bites were for sure the very best part. I almost didn’t know what they were because they were not like any kind of chorizo I’ve had before. I would liken them to the big square morsels of chocolate you dig for in ice cream. Not in flavor of course, but in texture and joy. So obviously, very very good.
Sally ordered the roasted vegetable hash, which I have to admit didn’t appear to have much curb appeal, but it came highly recommended from our server and all of us who had a bite can attest to its awesomeness. In fact, I kept stealing forkfulls of it and next to the salmon dip, I might award it my favorite. Everything about it was seemingly simple but done so well that it not only tasted delicious, but didn’t make you feel bad. It was light and refreshing and a move that I think would really start your day off right. That’s the way to do it if you want to keep your party rolling.
Another near favorite dish that I did not order was Seth’s blackened redfish. This little fish sandwich served with a fried egg was killer – all because of the fish. The fish was just so flavorful and decadent, and combined with the sauce gribiche, frisée, and basil, this one was kicking A and taking names.
And then Brittany, the daintiest of our group, ordered the burger. The half pound beef patty plus two giant onion rings burger. With just a quick unhinging of her jaw, she made her way through this one. I took a small bite, manufactured to be done via a fork, and like everything else we had, found the quality and preparation of the ingredients to be top notch. I was definitely impressed both by the dish and by Brittany’s order. I must bow down the Hulk move made by my Tinkerbell friend.
The location of this restaurant is also to be desired. Located along the riverfront and Magnificent Mile, Beacon Tavern brings you to the heart of downtown Chicago and then treats you to the elevated gastropub experience you were hoping for. We kicked back for a long while, chatted about the space, shared all the food, and just plain spent good time with good company. Again, knowing that Sally had such a hand in this spot made it all the more exciting, but then everything else about it made it sing. This was one awesome way to start a summer Saturday in Chicago with friends.