Is it acceptable to say I can’t stop listening to Justin Bieber’s new single ‘Sorry’ on repeat? I hope someone else is with me on this. Along with that, a lot has happened in the past two weeks since I’ve blogged (one of which being Justin Bieber dropping a new hit, thank God). For one, I haven’t posted blogged in FOR-ever which makes me feel quite uncomfortable since my blog is practically my child and what I wish could be my first priority at all times.
The sad truth is that I’m a full-time student, carrying on an internship and a job. Between balancing sleep, making food in the 30 minutes before I head out the door at 8a.m. every morning and finding a second to take a breath, sometimes blogging gets put on the back burner. Unfortunate but very, very true.
So much happens every single day during the week that I can’t even remember what I did last weekend. What I can tell you about this weekend, however, is that it was spent filling my stomach with this beautiful spread for brunch with one of my best friends (whom I haven’t seen in 3 weeks since I’ve been SO busy) which I am THRILLED to tell you about!
A few days ago, I decided I needed to treat myself to a brunch and the one place that popped into my head right away was Chicago’s very own Meli Café situated in the River North neighborhood. I remember one of my first breakfasts I ever had in Chicago was at their Wells Street location and since then, I always bring my family and friends there when they come to visit. The menu is in and of itself and endless book of options fit for everyone. There might be least six pages of options from breakfast bowls and omelettes to salads and sandwiches for lunch.
What I love most about Meli’s vast menu options is the page labeled “Healthy Start” and “Vegan & Gluten-free”. After I laid my eyes on the usual egg white scrambler, I looked beyond to the “Date ‘N Nut Parfait” with almonds, homemade granola, pitted dates and buckwheat honey. Sign me up. With healthy options filling a whole page rather than just a quarter of one, it was extremely difficult to decide on where to begin yet instead of going for the new choice like the parfait, I opted for my classic favorite – the vegan french toast.
The chefs at Meli take a seeded bread which is vegan and gluten-free, top it with a layer of banana chunks, drizzled in organic agave syrup and pop a few blackberries and strawberries on the side. The best part is that it isn’t heavy at all. Unlike most french toasts, there is no thick cream that’s made out of God only knows what and artificial colors slathered all over the top of the bread. Just agave syrup and fresh fruit! The bread wasn’t even that thick too, which I found perfect split between my friend and I.
While I didn’t think to ask, Meli also serve s100% all natural pure dark amber maple syrup. Definitely shooting for that my next go-around!
Between splitting a sweet option, I knew we needed two savory egg-based options to give us some energy. I’ve found myself constantly craving savory foods after I eat sweet one or the other way around. Therefore, pairing them together was my best brunch decision yet. This is where the eggs came into play.
I ordered a “breakfast bowl” which is just Meli’s term for breakfast hash. A bowl filled with your favorite mix-ins from veggies to meats and cheeses scrambled up with potatoes, topped with two eggs (cooked your way) and a side of toast. Instead of toast (due to our french toast platter), we each got a cup of mixed fruit. The usual grapes, canteloupe, honey dew and pineapple. Surprisingly, the fruit tasted so fresh unlike your average fruit bowl where every fruit rubs off on the next making the whole thing taste like one bland flavor… anyone feel me on this? The absolute worst. So thank you Meli, for exceeding my fruit expectations!
My breakfast bowl pick was the “Farmland” filled with mushroom, spinach, zucchini, tomato and havarti cheese (I went sans cheese). It was a little bit of everything rolled into one. Potatoes, all the veggies and runny egg yolk. I was kinda sorta in heaven. Aside from the taste, the color added to the presentation excellently. I mean check out the yellows and greens?!
My friend Ari ordered my favorite omelette: the “Green”. Asparagus, broccoli, spinach, pepper, kale and feta. Pretty sure there were at least 6 eggs in that bad boy because it was the size of a small child. She was so impressed she ate the whole thing. That’s when you know it’s a darn good omelette!
Aside from with the extensive brunch menu offered at Meli, each table comes with a thin (yet expansive) beverage menu. From coffee to juices and smoothies, you’ll find something for every taste bud. If you follow me on social media, you might already have the inkling that I’m quite the smoothie fan. I often opt for them instead of juices, yet if you don’t order a juice at Meli, you are doing something very wrong. We both had one with our meal and I picked the “Body Cleanser” – carrot, cucumber and beet. Ari ordered the “Red Bliss” – beet, carrot, orange, celery and ginger.
As you can tell we share a mutual love for beets.
I felt like a little kid staring at her juice in amazement but check out the top of the juice? The colors! AGAIN! They just kept blowing me away every time I snapped a shot. The taste was a 10/10 too 😉
I took mine to go because it was too good (and filling) to take down in just a few minutes, while Ari ended up ordered juice #2 for our bus ride home. She picked the “Jump Start Metabolism” – a blend of carrot, apple, celery, ginger and spinach. I have a high inclination the blend of carrot with spinach is what made the drink look rather brown but no worries, the sweetness of the apple and carrot knocked out any bitter taste of spinach, ginger and celery.
In addition, all juices at Meli Café are between $3 and $5.50 as opposed to those $10-12 ones down the block. Now if that’s not an incentive to hit up this River North café, the vast menu filled with colorful sweet and savory meals should be!
P.s. For those who don’t live near the River North location (540 N. Wells Street), no need to fret! Meli Café is thankfully located at other spots around the city including:
500 S. Dearborn Street and 301 S. Halsted Street.
So now you have no excuse not to go!