But first, Brunch: Band of Bohemia
When one of your favorite chefs gives you a restaurant recommendation, you not only make a quick note, but you also make reservations, ASAP.
Enjoying yet another amazing dinner at Bastion (last seen here) I started chatting with Chef Josh Habiger about upcoming travel. Well aware of the fact that he is incredibly knowledgeable about the food scene in Chicago (he did after all, work spend some time at Alinea) I thought it would be worth picking his brain for any new up and coming restaurants. Of course, he mentioned at least three different places that I've never heard of, shocker! Ha! Quickly, I jotted them down and went home to do a little reconnaissance.
Plotting out my epicurean adventures in Chicago, I was in a bit of a quandary as many of my meals were already planned (Schwa, Next Restaurant). Luckily, one of his recommendations, Band of Bohemia, served one hell of a brunch. Let's get started, shall we?
Band of Bohemia
4710 N Ravenswood Ave
Chicago, IL 60640
Band of Bohemia is located in Chicago's Ravenswood neighborhood. Seeing as it was my first time venturing into this hood, I wasn't sure what to expect timing wise. Chicago traffic, need I say more? Usually, I stay in the Gold Coast/River North area and it took approximately twenty minutes in an Uber. Not bad at all, just make sure you plan accordingly.
Confession: I came in on the struggle bus. It was a total effort to find the entrance and I blame it all on the alcohol. Chicago is a city that takes drinking very seriously and of course out of towners have a hard time keeping up. Unless that is, you visit often to keep your liver in tip-top drinking shape!
As we made our way inside the culinary brewhouse, my ears were delighted with the beats of classic rock and 80's music. Band of Bohemia has transformed this former industrial space into a homey area adorned with both vintage and funky decor. The closer you get to the kitchen the more eccentric the decor becomes.
One of the first things that I noticed about this restaurant, aside from the decor, was the kindness of the wait staff. From the host to the servers and everyone in between, we seriously could not have had nicer people. Our server, David, greeted us and after exchanging a few niceties, I think he could tell that I was a bit of a mess, a hungover mess.
Without hesitation, he asked me the question "do you want to repair or have hair of the dog?" Thinking to myself, I'm in Chicago, hello? Hair of the dog, please. He had just the thing: a beer flight which consisting of a four-ounce pour of each beer on tap. Featured from left to right: Jasmine, Noble Raven, Indian Pale Ale, Big Banana Wheat and Rye Bread Porter. While all of these were outstanding, my two favorites were the Big Banana Wheat and the Rye Bread Porter.
As I settled in and my hangover subsided, we started to talk food. What's brunch without a donut? Epic fail if you ask me! Band of Bohemia's donut is fried to order. There's nothing quite like a brioche donut covered in cinnamon, cardamom, and vanilla. Bonus: you even get the hole!
Opting for something a bit more savory for our main course, we ordered the Chicken and French Toast. This dish was served with fried chicken, apricot-jalapeño toast, banana, orange, mint and on the side a citrus syrup. And if that wasn't sinful, we threw in a side of bacon house cured with maple and malt. If this dish didn't get be back in the game, I didn't know what would. While this may appear to be quite a basic brunch dish, it was far from it. It was refreshing to see fried chicken paired with something other than waffles and this sweet and spicy french toast was the perfect accessory. The citrus syrup harmonized all the flavors of the dish flawlessly.
For those of you who have followed along on my countless food excursions, you know I do my research. As I was reading about Band of Bohemia, the "foiesicle" kept popping up. Of course, I had to ask our server all about it. Even with a touch of a hangover, I couldn't pass this up. Within a matter of moments, this fragrant basket filled with spruce was brought to our table. Featured below, the "foiesicle" comprised of blackberry, white chocolate, and chamomile served in a spruce filled basket.
I imagine several of you several of you have quite the grimace thinking about eating a popsicle made with liver. I admit, you aren't alone. There was a time not so long ago where I would not be this adventurous and there was no way in hell you could get me to eat a liver popsicle... have you lost your mind? However, time passes and taste buds evolve and this my friends was quite the treat.
I am not the only one who has a fondness for the food and beverage program at this restaurant. The Michelin Guide recently awarded Band of Bohemia with one Michelin star making it the first brewhouse to receive this prestigious honor. Well deserved, in my opinion.
In addition to this amazing brunch, Band of Bohemia offers a tasting menu Tuesday through Sunday for $85.00/person. If you find yourself in Chicago, I highly recommend making a reservation. The cuisine is innovative and filled with distinct flavors and the beers were both playful and delicious. Click here to make your reservation!
Can't-Miss: Any of their beers on tap (my personal favorite was the Rye Bread Porter) and if you are a fan of creativity and foie gras, check out the foiesicle!
Potential Pass: House cured bacon (A bit too much on the pork belly side for my liking)
Until Next Time!