When I first met my fellow blogger bud, May, we hit it off immediately. Although a couple of years older than me, we found so much in common through our few weekend hangs at the end of August. As our schedules got a bit heavy once fall hit, we haven’t had much time to connect in the past two months until this past Sunday. Thankfully, we got back together in the best way we know how: brunching.
I’ve told tons of my friends, both bloggers and non-bloggers alike, how badly I’ve wanted to try The Winchester Café in Chicago’s West Town/Ukrainian Village neighborhood – including May. Since it is a few blocks distance from any train stop and figuring out bus routes doesn’t strike my fancy, it took me about two years of daydreaming about their interior design and menu to finally set a reservation in stone. There was no better way to go about it than bringing my bloggin’ bestie along with me for the ride.
Because I took the bus to get there, I walked down Winchester Avenue and was in complete awe of how alive the community was. Now I see why all millennials are flocking to West Town, Wicker Park and Bucktown. It is THE place to be with shops lining the streets from a variety of different restaurants and coffee shops (Intelligentsia starting ’em off). Modern houses, leaves falling everywhere, decorations still up from the Halloween festivities the night before. My kinda scenery. I wanted to take Snapchats every step of the way. Who wouldn’t?
With the perfect weather Chicago has been experiencing this week, I’d say walking through the neighborhood was a great way to begin Sunday. The next two hours together, May and I spent snapping shots of our menus, drinking kombucha (my Sunday dream) and talking everything from school to social media and of course, blogging.
One of the reasons why I am so attracted to the The Winchester’s menu? The use of local and organic produce, while also highlighting artisan products. With separate café, brunch and dinner menus, each dish listed contains some ingredient or another that I would enjoy and have interest in. Everything from chicken with garbanzo beans and cauliflower for dinner to a side of quinoa hash browns for brunch. I knew I was in the right place when May asked our waitress what kind of granola they used and she replied with “it’s made in house”. *Insert prayer hands emoji here please* As tempting as their greek yogurt (a blend of cow’s and goat’s milk) with granola sounded, I went with the menu item I’ve been eyeing down since day one…
The fried black rice. Oh. My. God. If you’ve ever had black or brown rice sushi, envision the rice part of it deconstructed onto a plate, topped with a mild coconut curry sauce and a fried egg on top. Boom, that’s what was put in front of my face and I was so satisfied. I ended up taking half of it home for leftovers since it is a primarily filling dish and I will admit, it might be even better when cold.
The first thing on the menu May and I both spotted, naturally, was the avocado toast with grapefruit, chili and whole grain toast. A perfect portion for splitting (since I’m never satisfied with just avocado toast when I go out to a restaurant), we could not get over the texture and size. Seemingly thick but extremely light and fluffy. It resembled a cloud in carb form. In between a bite of May’s granola and my rice, a slice of the avocado toast was my palate cleanser.
While enjoying taking endless snapshots of our meals, it’s so nice to sit down for brunch with someone who not only loves to try all sorts of dishes like I do, but wants to be aware of what ingredients the chefs are using, how the dishes are prepared and what flavors they’re sneaking past us that the average person might not necessarily notice.
For instance, at first sip I thought our kombucha’s were house-made but after checking with our waitress, we found out they were GT’s Kombucha. Even if I do love nothing more than homemade kombucha on tap, I’m that girl addicted to GT and I’m not afraid to admit it. This + my fried black rice dish left me with Sunday brunch satisfaction. When we received the homemade waffle with poached pears towards the end of the meal, we both took small “tastings” to really sense the flavors. Was the waffle too sweet? Doughy? Crunchy? Actually enjoying the “dessert” rather than shoveling large bites into our faces and mindlessly eating.
I can tell you from taking just a couple small bites myself (between rice + toast your girl was STUFFED silly), I noticed how insanely chewy and moist the waffle was in comparison to your average toaster waffles that tend to be on the rather crispy, almost burnt side. May asked me if the pears had been soaked in a wine reduction and as we both kind of looked at each other with that “huh?” look, I realized how I oddly valued that moment.
With busy schedules, it is so hard to actually sit down, relax and enjoy a meal, savoring the flavors and the nutritious values it has. When I’m eating lunch at work in the span of ten minutes, the last thing on my mind is how fresh the vegetables or meat is. I’m thinking, “wow I’m hungry.” While I’m sure a waffle covered in maple syrup and cream isn’t the most nutritious thing, the fact that we are able to come together over brunch together, on a GORGEOUS fall Sunday and enjoy it together says a lot. Food has the ability to bring people together, and bonding with bloggers through it is an extremely powerful thing.
I’d say it was one of the better, possibly best, brunches we’ve had together. After the food was cleared, we talked about everything aside from food including what we were going to do for Christmas (Christkindlmarket, anyone!?) and how we are interested in a Spring Break trip to NYC. Fingers crossed on that one!
As cheesy as it may sound, I really believe that the bloggers who brunch together, stay together. Getting to know someone through food is really getting to know them inside and out. After delving into The Winchester for brunch, I’ve got a feeling May and I will be back very soon for dinner.
*All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you to The Winchester Café for having us. For more information on hours and menu items: visit their website here.*