In a city where there seem to be thousands of coffeehouses, Passion House Coffee Roasters ( 2631 N. Kedzie Ave.; www.passionhousecoffee.com/ ) seems to be making its own mark.
Located right across the street from the Logan Square Blue Line stop, Passion House ( which has been around for about a year ) is small, yet open ( and features a patio setting when the weather cooperates ).
The baristas certainly know what they're doing, as they serve espressos and espresso beverages, specialty drinks ( e.g., matcha, wildflower spice latte and bittersweet mocha ), cold- and batch-brew items and ( thankfully, for me, since I don't drink coffee ) tea.
However, Passion House also has tasty items to satisfy hunger pains. Savory bites include vegetable and meat quiches, buttered croissant and a salmon-and-cream cheese scone. Items on the sweet side include the apricot rose scone ( a must-have ) as well as the pear-anise crumb case ( with just a hint of the licorice-tasting anise ), pistachio brioche, banana walnut financier andmy favethe chocolate-chip toffee cookie.
Also, for Windy City Times readers, there's another incentive to go there: Passion House has teamed with LGBT-rights organization Equality Illinois to produce a 12-ounce bag of single-origin Papua New Guinea Sigiri Estate beans, with 50 percent of proceeds benefiting the organization. ( Bags are available in the cafe and online for $15 each. )
And if those items don't make Passion House enough of an enticement, there's a DJ on Saturdays at 10 a.m.-1 p.m. I don't know if the DJ takes requests, but there's only one way to know...
Francesca's Bryn Mawr
In Chicago's Edgewater neighborhood, Francesca's Bryn Mawr ( 1039 W. Bryn Mawr Ave.; www.miafrancesca.com/locations/profile/francescas-bryn-mawr-edgewater ) has been a staple for years, living up to the Francesca's chain's reputation of doling out tasty Italian fare.
Francesca's is a bit more, um, lived-in than some of the other of the chain's spots, giving it a vintage feel. It also gives the spot a more accessible vibe.
Now, Francesca's Bryn Mawr is offering a new lunch menu with more options, including lunch combos with soup, salad and half-portions. Items are not groundbreaking, but are well-done. You really can't go wrong with the calamari fritti or the bruschette alla Romana ( garlic toast with tomato, basil and fresh mozzarella ).
Pizza selections include the Napoletana ( with arugula, cherry tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, provolone and shaved parmesan ) and the quattro stagioni ( prosciutto, artichoke, mushroom, olive and egg ). However, my dining companion and I opted for the farmer sandwich ( an enticing olio of grilled chicken, maple-glazed pepper bacon, provolone, sunny-side up egg, arugula and lemon aioli on ciabatta ) and the pasta dish rigatoni con Scarola ( with the right combination of Italian sausage, roasted cherry tomatoes, oregano, white beans, escarole, garlic and pine nuts, in a light herb broth ).
Be sure to conclude things with one of the desserts, whether it's the justifiably-named Sloppy Sundae or the delectably dense torta lava, which comes with mint-chocolate gelato.
Note: Restaurant profiles/events are based on invitations arranged from restaurants and/or firms.