Brunch may just be my favorite pastime. But brunch well past standard brunch timings at a 24-hour café essentially morphs me into a kid in a candy store. You can only imagine my excitement at hearing about the new Bleeding Heart Bakery & Café, a welcome bright spot in Chicago’s otherwise dismal late-night dining scene. The restaurant has an edgy diner vibe with vivid tattoo inspired art on the walls and what the owners dub a “local sustainable punk rock brunch” all day, every day.
After road-tripping to Indiana for a concert (yeah, Lupe!), some friends and I were in need of grub. Not just any kind of grub though. Once we’d confirmed that the food was delicious (because really, the host would have told us if it wasn’t), we set out to order from the brunch menu and eye the well-endowed glass counter from afar in all its munchkin and mini-cake mound glory. After oscillating between sweet and savory, I settled on a wild mushroom polenta eggs benedict with roasted red peppers and what seemed like an exotic twist on the standard condiment: persimmon hollandaise. My friends got the farmer’s veggie skillet, the seasonal fruit pancakes and, wait for it, the fried vanilla bean yeast doughnut breakfast sandwich with eggs and cheese.
My disappointing but tasty looking Wild Mushroom Polenta Benedict.
Sadly, my entrée didn’t live up to its description. The persimmon hollandaise was completely lacking in the persimmon department and the mushroom polenta was equally vapid. The seasoned roasted potatoes on the side were its only saving grace.
The Veggie Farmer's Skillet with zucchini and green beans
My friends, on the other hand, gave their dishes thumbs up. There were plenty of veggies in the farmer’s skillet and the fruit pancakes were equally tasty. And of course, how could a deep fried tempura battered doughnut breakfast sandwich be anything other than mortifyingly delicious?
The pièce de résistance: Fried doughnut sandwich. Getting fruit as a side makes up for the rest, right?
Though my dish was sub-par, I have a feeling I’ll be giving this place another shot. After all, any 24-hour place with a Veruca Salt Waffle on the menu (or simply one that references Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at all) deserves a second chance.
Restaurant Info: Bleeding Heart Bakery & Cafe
1916 W. Chicago Ave
nr. N. Winchester Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
Meal: Late-night grub
Occasion: Post-Concert Reflection
(Out of three stars)
Ambiance: *** (punk rock)
Would I go back?:24 hour brunch on the weekends = obvi.
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I love New York City mornings because of the special energy that is in the air as people are rushing to work, class, and wherever else they are going. What I don’t love is when you’re running late and you don’t have time to get a coffee on your way. This morning I was walking through Washington Square Park with only five minutes until class so I decided to defer getting my morning caffeine fix until after class. To make up for the self-inflicted delayed gratification, I decided to go to The Grey Dog, a quaint coffeehouse situated on University Place that I’d been meaning to try for a few weeks now.
THE grey dog...I think
Grey Dog more closely resembles a quirky Austin, TX coffee haunt than it does the other chichi coffee shops that densely populate downtown Manhattan. The distressed, wooden, sea foam blue furniture and the lowered vintage ceiling fans add a special charm to the place.
I ordered a hazelnut iced coffee with fat-free milk and asked the barista to pick his favorite muffin for me. He chose the vegan pumpkin muffin made with soy milk. My eating habits are nowhere near macrobiotic, and so this would not have been my natural choice. But this was one special muffin.
My iced hazelnut coffee and muffin
I could obviously taste the pumpkin, but was surprised by hints of clove, ginger, and cinnamon. And if you’re particular about your coffee, rest assured that hazelnut doesn’t translate to a sweeter house blend. It tastes and smells like the real thing.
Bilal is a new contributor to Beauty and the Feast. He’s currently a first-year pre-med student at NYU, majoring in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies.
Restaurant Info: The Grey Dog
90 University Place
btw 11th and 12th Streets
New York, NY 10003
Union Square REPORT CARD
Meal: Mid-morning breakfast
(Out of three stars)
Ambiance: ***(Quirky, Different, Definitely an experience)
Would I go back?: Yes!
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My brother and sis-in-law went to a birthday party this past weekend, and I could not stop gawking at the pictures they brought back of this camera cake made by Saba Khan of DeLush.Bakery. Sheer creativity.
Check out the attention to details! I swear if I didn’t know better, I’m pretty sure I’d just try to pick it up and try to clumsily use it instead of eating it (actually, it was probably better I wasn’t there). Saba, who has been decorating cakes for almost six years, made the cake for brother who loves photography. It’s not a cake made just to stare at though (although, I’d be totally game to admire this work of art all day) — the inside was a coconut batter with pineapple filling. DEE-vine.
Saba’s based in Des Plaines and pretty much caters to the Chicagoland area (and possibly beyond if requested). You can check out more of her cakes at her blog, which also includes a cake made into the shape of MAC lipstick…clearly, she speaks my language *sigh.
DeLush Bakery camera cake
If there is one way to a girl’s heart, it has to be through these cupcakes. My friend Samar and I were walking in pursuit of sugar last night after dinner in the East Village, and not even a few doors down, we came across the tiny Pinisi Bakery. I have heard storied legends of the red velvety goodness that comes out of this bakery, but I found that they had much more interesting flavors lined up when we walked in:
A stand of rainbow, lavender, and pistachio cupcakes
Red velvet cupcake
Red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting
But THIS was probably the pinnacle for us…the icing on the cake, if you will: Lavender-batter cupcakes. Lavender’s actually IN the batter, not just the frosting. Violet-colored cupcakes seemed like such a novelty — I was excited. They had a cream cheese topping and one with chocolate ganache. We went with the former. Heavenly:
It reminded me of Early Grey flavored treats I’ve had before and tasted splendid with tea. We also ordered a pistachio and red velvet (of course).
I personally like Sugar Sweet Sunshine‘s pistachio cupcake a tad more even though this one wasn’t bad. The red velvet was ridiculously good too, just as expected. Before we left, we bought another lavender with chocolate ganache and rose-water-infused cupcake for a friend. All I can say is she looked like a happy camper. I asked the woman behind the counter what the deal was with the flavors, if they change frequently or if they’re seasonal — she said there’s really no rhyme or reason to how they switch it up. “It’s basically whatever the baker feels like making that day.” So New York.
Any else been? What did you think?
Bakery Info: Pinisi Bakery
128 East 4th St # A
New York, NY 10003-9478
Savory cupcakes galore inside the counter. A No Buns About It Burger loaf, anyone?
Sure, cupcakes are a little played out, but that doesn’t mean I won’t try a new bakery when I see one. Next door to the cozy Noble Tree Café in Lincoln Park, the Meatloaf Bakery just happens to be one gimmick ahead of its standard sweet competitors.
The shop dishes out savory comfort food cupcakes – or in their terms, loaves – in all sorts of down-home flavors. The most bizarre of the bunch: A Wing and A Prayer loaf, made of chicken and celery combined with hot and spicy wing sauce and blue cheese.
Our savory cupcakes: The Omega-3 loaf and the Chicken Shish Ka loaf with a mint sauce.
Ok, I know it sounds weird, but I promise you, these “cupcakes” were divine. I tried the Omega-3 loaf, which was made of Wild caught Alaskan salmon, lemon, parsley and dill and topped with wasabi mashed potatoes (i.e. the frosting). It was served with a delicious lemon-dill yogurt sauce. My friend got the Chicken Shish Ka loaf, made with chicken, parsley, red onions and herbs and topped with Yukon smashers. All I can say is we were two happy mid-evening snackers.
The loaves are expensive at $7.95 and up a pop, but given the intricacy of flavors and the carb-heavy frosting to fill you up, it’s definitely worth a try. And, if you’re not willing to shell out that kind of money, you can always try a bite-sized loafie for $2 instead.
Restaurant Info: The Meatloaf Bakery
2464 N. Clark Street
nr. W Roslyn Pl.
Lincoln Park, Chicago
Nothing like a midday bite at a cozy French cafe in Chelsea. I joined my friend at Le Grainne Cafe and loved the ambiance and quiet chatter. It’s said to be housed in the oldest building in Chelsea.
Inside Le Grainne Cafe
I ordered the Creme de Marron crepe (the whole menu is written in both French and English, naturally). The Clément-Faugier chestnut cream spread with créme fraîche is on the sugary side, but still leaves you with a little bit of a sour taste. I think I prefer my nutella…
Creme de marron crepe, $7.65
We also ordered an overflowing bowl of French Onion soup. I went back last night and had a bowl myself — a nice treat for the blistering cold. The soup is just lightly seasoned with a whole lot of melted, gooey, delicious cheese on top.
Gratinee a l'oignon, french onion soup, $6.50
The lights dim for the evening and the cafe turns even more intimate. After my soup, I ordered a latte and was presented with this gargantuous cup of caffeine:
The biggest cup latte I've ever had in my life
I don’t even think it’s right to call it a cup…it’s more like a bowl of latte. It was thick and heavenly…but being highly sensitive to caffeine, my heart was racing so fast I really could not stop giggling throughout the night. It’s probably why I’m still awake at 3 AM writing this…and maybe also why I’m creepily smiling right now for no reason.
If you’re looking for a cafe to catch up with a friend or even for a quick cup of tea (moroccan mint! but not nearly as generous a size as the latte was), stop by here. I should also mention that I spotted Ethan Hawke with wife and kid right across the restaurant…apparently he’s a regular in the area, so for what it’s worth…
Restaurant Info: Le Grainne Cafe
183 Ninth Ave (at 21st)
New York, NY 10011