We spent the past weekend in Chicago for a friend’s wedding and obviously made sure to squeeze in a few tasty meals during the weekend trip. One of the real highlights was brunch at Beatnik in the Ukrainian Village/West Town area of the city. I’d seen a few photos of the interior and we thought it was definitely worth a visit. Upon first stepping into the place, we knew we made the right choice.
A Hidden Tropical Oasis in The Windy City
We gawked at the beautiful year-round courtyard that makes up the front of the restaurant, full of plants, candles, and large chandeliers. I felt like I was eating at the dwelling of a Mediterranean dignitary. The tropical setting was particularly inviting on a cold spring day in the Windy City. In fact, we quickly found out that it may have been a been too toasty in there, but it was still better than the chill outside.
The Drinks Take Center Stage at Beatnik
Upon reviewing the menu, our friend Amanda noticed was that three of the four pages were dedicated to drink options. Clearly this place gets us.
After some coffee, served in delightful antique tea cups, we ordered a few of the drinks. The Jesus Spritzo was perfectly light and refreshing, similar to an aperol spritz but with a Spanish twist. The Wide Eyed & Fuzzy Tailed (pictured below) was a fun take on an Irish coffee and had just the right amount of chicory, pecan, cacao, and vanilla to balance the strong whiskey and cold brew flavors with the sweet coconut foam.
Global-Inspired Fare Offers Something for Every Palate
The menu is inspired by dishes from around the world, with a mix of light options and heartier fare. After indulging in deep dish pizza and Chicago style hot dogs the day before, we wanted to start off on a healthier note. Kacy suggested the crudite platter with avocado hummus and tomato labneh, and the rest of the table happily obliged. The avocado hummus reminded me of a tasty, lighter version of guacamole but the tomato labneh was the real star. It was so creamy and delicious, we basically licked it off the plate.
For the main course, Amanda went with the fried chicken. A marinated chicken thigh sat atop pumpkin seed hummus, surrounded by small dollops of preserved lemon salsa brava.
I was intrigued by the Spanish tortilla with uni and gave in to my curiosity by ordering it. I’m very glad I did. The traditional omelette with caramelized onions was cooked perfectly and had a slightly creamy, almost cheesy texture to it. It was topped with trout roe along with the uni which added touches of sweetness and ocean brine. A unique and decadent pairing. Not sure how or why, but the combination was nearly perfect and I now want uni to top all of my future omelettes.
Kacy ordered the pork cheek fried rice, which included seasonal vegetables, cilantro and aleppo pepper topped with a perfectly fried duck egg. With just a hint of spice, all of the flavors of the bowl melded together nicely. The pork cheek was tender and rich, elevating an otherwise basic dish to the next level.
Our friend Pat went with the shakshuka with duck eggs and added the house made Merguez sausage to make it a bit heartier. It was served scalding hot in a cast iron skillet with an assortment of herbs on top and pita for dipping. The overall aroma and flavor was heightened by mixing the fresh mint, cilantro, and parsley into the rest of the skillet.
We loved all of the dishes we had and left no bites behind. The drinks and particularly the company made for a great time. The music was a little louder than we preferred, as we’d had a pretty rowdy time the night before. However, this small annoyance did little to hinder our enjoyment. We would definitely recommend this as a fun and delicious brunch stop to anyone that is the area.