In fact, CBB is NOT dead!

Plausible reasons for lacking Chicago Brunch Blog updates:

  1. Carly is dead.
  2. Carly is lazy.
  3. Does it matter? I never read updates, I just use the Restaurant Directory.

Actual reasons why Chicago Brunch Blog has not been updated:

  1. Carly is alive, but lazy — or mainly preoccupied with work that makes or breaks the bank.
  2. Apparently a bad economy and even worse weather means no one wants to leave their house (oftentimes myself included), and brunch promotions are often the first thing cut.
  3. Does it matter? No one reads the updates, they just use the Restaurant Directory.

And so, with New Years Resolutions steadily approaching, I vow to update this website as often as I feel like it — which means that the Weekend Brunch Buzz is probably not going to be a weekly feature. However, I’ve decided to increase activity on the Restaurant Directory. After all, winter brunch may not have that flair appeal of chilled mimosas on the veranda that spring and summertime bring, but somewhere out there a line cook is going to wake up at the crack of dawn and make those buttermilk biscuits because, damn it, someone’s going to order them!

And with that said, here are my current brunch winners and losers:

WINNER

Juicy Wine Co.’s Dirty Bird Soul Brunch is my new favorite brunch spot. Harold’s Fried Chicken, orange Crush waffles, and half-off Champagne were the points to get me there, but I was sold when I greeted with intimate seating, no strollers, and some of the best customer services I’ve encountered in the city. If chicken ‘n’ waffles aren’t your thing (and I have no fucking idea WHY), traditionalists a.k.a. boring people, can order eggs and what the owner lovingly referred to as a “baconpalooza” of farm ham.

Brunch is served 11:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. Juicy Wine Co. is located at  694 N. Milwaukee Ave. in River West. For more information, call 312.492.6620.


Brunch favorite, Vella Cafe, is now serving dinner. While this is a brunch-specific blog, I do make the exception for Vella because on one hand, I love it, but also, this: the Baconegger pizza. When I heard of the fried egg on the Kuma burger, I was skeptical. But I am now a believer in anything involving fried egg and meat. Somehow fried egg and bacon really adds something unexpected and wonderful to a pizza, and a whole lot of cholesterol to my body.

Vella Cafe now serves dinner Wed. – Fri. until 9 pm, resuming the week after New Years. The cafe will be open for a Hangover New Years Brunch on the 1st from 10 am – 3 pm. Vella is located at 1912 N. Western Ave. in Bucktown. Brunch is served Mon.-Fri 7:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m., Sat. & Sun. 9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. (weekend menu). For more information, call 773.489.7777.


LOSER

Though I’ve avoided saying anything about this brunch darling for a long time, I can no longer hold of my criticism of Orange. What was once a pioneer among the gourmet brunch spots, introducting fruishi, pancake flights, and orange coffee to the masses, has now become a consistent source of disappointment.

When Orange first opened, I was in love — and we all were! What wasn’t there to like about the cozy Lakeview spot nestled between a head shop and a retirement home, and across the street from what was once the only place in town to purchase spikes and bondage gear? Decorative touches like glossy magazine menus and original artwork on the wall used to be fun and eclectic, much like the staff. Over the past year and a half, the atmosphere has become increasingly sterile and cold, and unfortunately, the dishes seem to reflect this as well. The third location to open in Roscoe Village seems to embody the loss of character this restaurant once had. Dark, full of gaudy fixtures and boring artwork, more effort can be found at a Denny’s than at this location.

I’ve been to all three locations, and often entertained out of town guests at many. But these days, I often cringe when someone suggests going to Orange. I continued to give chance after chance, each time leaving more disappointed than the last. In addition to poor customer service from inattentive and unfriendly staff, my plates often arrive cold or overcooked. The last pancake flight my table ordered was rubbery and unimpressive, while my caprese benedict and hash was room temperature on arrival. Even their beloved fruishi seemed a bit half assed.

Although wait time at this restaurant never seems to decrease, I often wonder if reputation and hype are the factors for visitation than quality. I can say that what was once a regular hangout for me has now become a last resort. With the overwhelming amount of brunch competitors, when making recommendations, Orange is certainly not in my top 10. However, for information and popularity sake, I will not shun Orange from the brunch site, but I refuse to give accolades where it is not due.

— Carly Fisher

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