Finding a place to grab brunch in Chicago when friends are in town is always a struggle. Mostly in the summer when everyone is out, it’s not ludicrous for a hot spot to have an hour long wait. If you’re anything like me and a. Hate waiting and b. Have a serious case of ‘hangry,’ it’s a little life hack to try and find the spots with the best food that the rest of the city hasn’t fully been turned on to yet. My friend Sam visited this summer and we decided to try out Roanoke in the Loop so we could explore the riverwalk post-brunching. We walked in and the Smashing Pumpkins version of Landslide came on- we knew we made the right decision right away.
It can be somewhat difficult to find an affordable brunch that is clearly chef-driven. Most places are looking to give the typical brunch options to appease a large audience. Roanoke’s chef clearly is looking to appeal to diners who are looking for quality over quantity.
Rather than ‘saving the best for last,’ Sam and I dove right into a blood orange mimosa and hand rolled cinnamon rolls. Think of the best mimosa you’ve ever had. Got it? Now think of the best cinnamon rolls you’ve ever had. Good? These are better than both of those tenfold. I could have easily been content with bottomless of both of these for the entire meal. Melt in your mouth good, guys.
Our next pair was the Griddled Jumbo Lump Crab Toast and a bloody mary (spicy, of course). This Crab toast was avocado toast on steroids. It’s no secret that I’m obsessed with avocado and any type of seafood. This dish was the perfect marriage of the two. I’m not the biggest bloody mary fan, but this one was delicious. Just enough spicy, and who doesn’t love some cheese, banana peppers and olives. Round two = bravo.
Next up on the menu was the House Cured Salmon Plate. I’m a sucker for lox on my bagels, so I was pretty excited for this dish. The salmon was delicious, and the bread was toasted to a crisp. Move over NYC bagel deli, you’ve got some competition.
Our final entree to come out was without a doubt my favorite. Pre-pescetarian era my go to brunch was always chicken and waffles. Post pescetarian I’ve started a love affair with eggs benedict. It’s easy to order sans meat, and if you’re really lucky, the restaurant offers an option with seafood. While Roanoke’s eggs benedict comes default with porchetta (but seriously holy yum), they were nice enough to make a version with scallops for me. I’m in love with scallops. There was a period of time in Maryland that I made them for dinner the majority of my week. I’m a little bit snobby about how they’re cooked because after living with two chefs who were perfectionists, I know how I like my seafood. I was not disappointed. I’m going to refuse to eat brunch anywhere in the future that doesn’t offer this as an option. Take note, Chicago.
Last but not least came dessert. Let’s be real, at this point Sam and I had snacked on a ton of delicious entrees. We were (surprisingly) not feeling the mimosas or bloody marys yet. That changed pretty quickly. The Bananas Foster Bread Pudding actually tasted better than it looks, if that’s even possible. And as soon as we took a sip of the Toast & Jam cocktail (Knob Creek Rye, hibiscus syrup, fresh grapefruit and lime juice) we were finally feeling our previous cocktails.
This brunch definitely set the tone for the rest of our weekend; after having such a great experience at Roanoke, they’ll be feeding me again soon. What is your favorite brunch place in the Loop?