Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Wild Brunch

I went to dinner with a couple of my best male friends last night. Unfortunately I took them to a place with flatscreens showing NCAA college basketball. I wanted to bitch and moan about current events, dating drama, blah, blah, blah, but they weren't listening. They were too busy watching whomever was playing on the tube.

So that reminded me that "March Madness" is right around the corner. So . . . it's going to get even worse. Nonstop, all-day basketball watching—especially on Saturdays and Sundays during brunch time. We may as well get used to it and embrace it and check out some spots that do sports brunch well:

Jake Melnick's Corner Tap (41 E. Superior St., 312-867-4908). The lodge-like, Gold Coast bar recently became infamous for its seriously ridiculously over-the-top hot wings that are so intense that you have to sign a waiver in order to get them. But, if that's not your bag, go for the Hot Dog Flight with three different styles of mini hot dogs. And Sunday is their regular brunch, featuring Strawberry Cheesecake French Toast, as well as a host of omelets and skillets. Also, on Sunday, go for $3.12 312 Pints or $5 Bloody Marys from the build-your-own bar.

McGee's Tavern (950 W. Webster Ave., 773-549-8200). The Lincoln Park institution is most popular for its rowdy brunch crowd, Eggs Benedict and Haystack skillets (i.e. Placido’s Mexican Haystack, Veggiestack). Oh, and how about that build-your-own Bloody Mary bar that continues until brunch time is over? You don't want to miss that action. Multiple flatscreens over the bar and at many tables keep the natives occupied, and many people get there at 11am and don't leave until it's dark outside. Now, that's a brunch.

The Gage (24 S. Michigan Ave., 312-372-4243). Or, for a more civilized brunch, we bring you this South Loop gem that's made its name as a popular post-work hangout. They've got Dirk Flanigan in the kitchen, so of course the menu's much more creative. He's put his spin on a traditional Irish breakfast, plus steel cut Irish oatmeal brulee and an apple pancake soufflé.

'You have a baby . . . in a bar?!'

Good idea or very bad idea?

Here's what Slashfood has to say on the subject.

Some notable openings

The Stew reports that Jerry Kleiner's Park 52 (5201 S. Harper Court) is opening in mid-March. For reals this time. And did we mention that Park 52 sounds too much like Table 52 (52 W. Elm St., 312-573-4000)? He might want to rethink that one.

Drive-Thru checks out new Loop lunch spot Noodles & Co. (180 N. Michigan Ave.).

And Basil Leaf Cafe (2460 N. Clark St.) in Lincoln Park recently closed, but it's now joined forces with sister restaurant next door, Sage (2465 N. Clark St., 773-348-7243), with a larger dining space and bar area.

Deal of the day . . .

(Photo: Dogfish)

Embrace the beer craze tonight with Vertical Tasting, in which guests get to sample an awesome selection of Dogfish Head craft beers. The event's held at Delilah's (2771 N. Lincoln Ave., 773-472-2771) with Dogfish Head Craft Brewery owner/brewer Sam Calagione and Delilah's owner Mike Miller leading the largest single sampling of more than 20 Dogfish Head beers ever attempted in Chicago, including many rare beers and vintages of World Wide Stout and Immort Ale. Tonight 9pm-midnight. Free.

As usual, "Greazy & Sleazy" DJ Jason Larsen spins, and for those not into Doghead, the Wednesday specials are $2 Pabst Blue Ribbon Longnecks and $2 Ten High Bourbon.

If you can't make it to Delilah's tonight, head here on Saturday, Feb. 23 for Vintage Strong Beer Fest 2008. It's the 10th annual festival for this event, and guests will get to sample more than 70 beers, primarily strong ales, from over 50 breweries. Just some of the ales include Three Floyds, Goose Island, Greg Browne Brewing, Capitol, Two Brothers, Rock Bottom, Flossmoor Station, Flatlander’s and Bell’s & Lakefront Brewing. Many of the brewers will also be in attendance. Noon-6pm. $20.