Bongo Room

March 10 2010 - 10:45 PM

Bongo Room is one of those places that comes to mind when I need to wow visitors with an over-the-top brunch. This is not to say that you couldn't stop by for an average Tuesday breakfast, but your waistline may suffer as a result.

Their breakfast menu features a wide variety of items, but Bongo Room has garnered the most attention for their decadent pancakes and french toast. And as someone who owns a t-shirt labeled "I heart carbs," I have no problem with eating the nutritional equivalent of cake at 9 am, especially when presented with a slew of unique options. Blueberry pancakes? Pfft, save that for home. Here, you will spot everything from pineapple-rhubarb french toast to berry and banana cheesecake hotcakes.

On this particular trip, the pumpkin and zucchini pancakes caught my eye. Three fluffy pancakes arrived in the blink of an eye, topped with white chocolate creme and drizzles of caramel sauce. Needless to say, you will not need additional syrup for these bad boys. The pancakes were thick and perfectly cooked, with a warm pumpkin aroma and visible shreds of zucchini inside. This counts toward my 5-a-day, right?

The chocolate tower French toast is a perennial favorite, partly because it is such a sexy head-turner as it sails past you on the way to another table. Whoa, what was that? The answer is, a stack of chocolate bread French toast, piled high and topped with bananas and chocolate shavings. The French toast was melt-in-your-mouth unctuous, complemented by a rich banana sauce. This dish packs the intensity of a hurricane, so feel free to retreat from your half-finished plate.

To avoid overwhelming your palate, it may be wiser to split orders between the sweet and savory sides of the menu. I have tried their breakfast burrito and lump crab eggs benedict, both of which were flavorful and well-executed. The lemon-ricotta pancakes with gingersnaps are also a great choice, if you're interested in something a little more refined. If you aren't in the mood for breakfast foods, the restaurant also offers a lunch menu, packed with sandwiches, salads and other contemporary American fare. Menus change seasonally, so don't be surprised if your favorite dish has disappeared (and been replaced with something more intriguing).

Having visited both locations, the lines at the South Loop location seem slightly better than the Wicker Park location on the weekend. On my most recent trip to Wicker Park, the wait for 2 people at 10 am on Saturday was about half an hour, and this was easily filled by window shopping on Milwaukee. To whet your appetite, you can check out Mojo Spa a few doors down, which sells all sorts of neat soaps and beauty products made with food.

Bongo Room (Wicker Park)
1470 N Milwaukee
(773) 489-0690

Bongo Room (South Loop)
1152 S. Wabash
(312) 291-0100