the story behind my discovery of this wicker park sandwich/brunch gem: i was looking up jam on yelp and found birchwood kitchen at the right panel of "you might also like" places. man, what a lucky find cos i've never heard of this place before then. i am not a very huge brunch person..i'd prefer a lunch over brunch but i was quite drawn to their menu which sounded delicious.
true to its neighborhood's culture, it's a cozy place with an artistic flair adorned with art works on the brick wall inside the dining area. in the summers/falls, there is the patio dining out back if you fancy enjoying the weather outside. the decor of the place reflected the simple, classic yet deliciously yummy food with bk's personal spin.
since it promises seasonal ingredients, birchwood kitchen also has weekly specials and there are various sides offered, so remember to check them out before you have your heart set on an item on their regular menu.
oh, before i forget. the way this place works is that you will be given a table number but you will have to place your order at the counter once you've decided what to eat. xy and i were sitting at the table for several minutes, wondering where was the person who would take our orders but finally realizing that we were supposed to go up to the counter. you get your drinks at the counter but they would bring the food to you.
i had several things in mind that i wanted to try at the place but i finally decided on one after much contemplation. to start, we both ordered a huge cup of lemonade which had a good amount of lemon flavor that was refreshing and cooling, perfect for a hot sunday afternoon.
weekend brunch:: gblt | house-cured salmon gravlax . bacon . lettuce . tomato . citrus aioli . sunny egg . open-faced on sourdough toast . petite salad. ($9.50)
the first thing i noticed was the generous amount of bacon and salmon. i like blt and adding salmon to it would only make it better, right? the cured salmon had that salty goodness that melt in your mouth and paired well with both the salad and the sourdough bread. the bacon, on the other hand, presented itself as textural balance with its crispiness with a hint of smokiness. the slice of sourdough was toasted well and smeared with the creamy citrus aoili which mellowed the saltiness from the combination of both the gravlax and bacon. the aoili could have used a bit more citrus, i thought. all these were topped with a sunny side up egg which gave it an extra richness to the dish as well as making it more breakfast-y.
the lightly dressed salad which had slices of carrots and pickled beets among the greens was a fitting accompaniment to the dish so you can alternate the rich gblt with the citrus-y salad while at the same time it balances out the saltiness. i loved this dish and would order it again.
i ordered a side of the green apple coleslaw ($ 2.50) although i was also torn on getting the cafe chips but decided not to. i love the touch of the apple tartness in the coleslaw but i thought it was slightly overdressed with mayo.
weekend brunch :: croque madame | country ham . gruyere . dijon mustard . grilled sourdough . sunny eggs . petite salad . ($9.50)
it looked enticing cos i do love melted cheese in between toasted bread. here you have the gruyere cheese melting gloriously with a great amount of country ham. i had a bite and thought the ham gave the slightly mild and bitter gruyere cheese a good salty, meaty aspect. i would have preferred a bit more cheese but i am a sucker for cheese heheh. xy loved it and his clean plate at the end of the meal affirmed how good it was.
birchwood kitchen has made its mark as one of my favorite brunch places to go to in chicago (the only other one that i like is m.henry's so far). the price is a lil high but you are paying for the quality of fresh ingredients which are combined in a harmonious way topped with their promise of freshly baked bread and seasonal ingredients. the reason why i love this place: great and friendly staff serving simple tasty classics made right. i hope to be returning soon to have the other sandwich that i didn't get to try :)
disclaimer this is written based on my personal experience and opinion. experiences and taste buds may vary for others