During the week, Roanoke Restaurant and Club ( 135 W. Madison St.; www.theroanokerestaurant.com/ ) is as busy as a beehive, thanks to its Loop location that accommodates businesspeople, theatergoers, tourists and more. In fact, every part of the spot ( including the second-floor lounge ) is bursting at the seams.
However, weekends are seemingly a quite different story, as a friend and I witnessed recently while at Roanoke for Sunday brunch. However, this development is almost criminal, as Roanoke has a brunch as appealing and sophisticated as its decor.
First, there is the list of drink selectionsone of the most expansive I've seen recently. There are wines ( roses, whites, reds, reserves and ports ), Champagne, cocktails and mocktails. I had the Grace Martini and it's a bittersweet concoction of Kelel One Peach ( with me pointing out to the manager that "Ketel" was misspelled on the menu, because I couldn't help myself ) and Orange Blossom, Luxardo maraschino liqueur and, well, orange bitters. It was actually appealingbut The Workshop mocktail was much more to my liking, as it was a refreshing mix of blackberries, Madagascar vanilla and lemon soda. ( Note: The menu was recently revised, so these drinksand probably some otherswere not on the online menu as of Jan. 14. )
And as for the food, it's absolutely wonderful. The chilaquiles contained a sumptuous slow-roasted pork shoulder along with the requisite cotija cheese, avocado and lime. Traditional eggs Benedicts can be tricky for some to pull off, but not in this caseand they were accompanied by crispy, tasty potatoes. And for those who crave something more healthful, there's the power bowla winning combination of spiced quinoa, Greek yogurt, walnuts, berries and chia seed that might make you feel less guilty over ordering some of the other dishes. ( Other plates range from crab Louie salad to ribeye hash to the smoked-salmon bagel. )
On the sweet side, the French toast was an appealing exercise in restraint. In contrast to some restaurants that can make this item too sweet, the lemon curd on the toast was light, with the blueberries, hazelnut crust and powdered sugar providing a great balance. We also tried the cinnamon roll ( with cream-cheese frosting ), which was a solid performer, as they say.
So I definitely recommend checking out Roanoke. You'll certainly enjoy delightful items andat least, for the time beingwill have easy access to seats on the weekends.
Chicago Restaurant Week
Chicago Restaurant Week will be here before you know it.
Chicago's world-class culinary scene will once again be in the spotlight during the 12th annual Chicago Restaurant Week, Jan. 25- Feb. 7. ( Yes, it's technically two weeks, but "Chicago Restaurant Fortnight" doesn't have quite the same ring. )
Produced by Choose Chicago, reservations for the annual culinary celebration are now open at eatitupchicago.com, featuring menus for participating Chicago-area eateries. A record number of Chicago restaurants395!will take part in 2019's Chicago Restaurant Week. ( More than 600,000 diners took part in 2018. )
Chicago Restaurant Week will launch with First Bites Bash, featuring Joe Flamm, executive chef of Spiaggia and Cafe Spiaggia, and Chicago mixologist Jarmel Doss, assistant bar director of The Aviary, as First Bites Bash hosts, on Thursday, Jan. 24, 6-9 p.m., at the Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore Dr. More than 70 of Chicago's most famous chefs and restaurants will be represented at the event, which allows participants to preview tasting portions from their respective Chicago RestaurantWeek menus. For a complete list of participating restaurants and to purchase tickets to First Bites Bash, visit firstbitesbash.com .
Note: Restaurant profiles/events are based on invitations arranged from restaurants and/or firms.