Wicker Park, Gastropub

Hit the Trenches and Head to Brunch at Trenchermen

Photo:  Jason Little, Eater Chicago

Photo: Jason Little, Eater Chicago

I have been to Trenchermen for dinner twice before, and enjoyed it very much, but it was brunch that I came back to try. Trenchermen, located in Wicker Park, opened in the summer of 2012 in the space that formerly housed Spring, a fantastic seafood restaurant helmed by Shawn McClain. However, Trenchermen has since filled the proverbial shoes of Chef McClain and reconceived the space, once a bathhouse – the social center for hard-working immigrants. Trenchermen drew on this history in its redesign by using pieces of the historic building, as well as its white bath tiles, throughout. Even the restrooms harken back to the 1920s.

Brunch at Trenchermen is served in the communal bar area. Seating is on stools around the large, central rectangular wooden bar. Some highboy tables surround the room, as well. Reservations are recommended, but walk-ins are accepted. Even while seated at the bar, intimate conversations can be had in a warm, comfortable environment. Bartenders act as servers and are pleasant and not overbearing.

The brunch menu, much like the one at dinner, is edited, with each item perfectly executed. One could easily be sated with the pretzel cinnamon roll and a cup of strong coffee, but I recommend starting with the lighter and more refreshing Greek yogurt, topped with a winter fruit compote, and salted quinoa granola served on the side. The thick richness of the yogurt was perfectly balanced by the sweet, herbal compote and salty granola. I could eat this dish for breakfast every morning. The kale salad featured an escabeche of root vegetables, as well as creamy avocado, pumpkin seeds and a lightly fried egg with its yolk slowly running over and coating the crunchy leaves. A citrus vinaigrette brightens the harmonious salad. Finally, the frittata, perfectly baked with sun dried tomato, kale and caramelized onions, and highlighted by smoky gouda cheese, was the star of the show and far surpassed the failure of a frittata I ordered at Little Market Brasserie (see previous post).

While we thoroughly enjoyed solely vegetarian dishes on this visit, the breakfast sandwich featuring bacon stuffed bacon(!) and fried egg, as well as the chicken fried steak served with buttermilk biscuits and sawmill gravy, will please heartier and more carnivorous appetites.

If you like dinner at Trenchermen, you will love its brunch. And, if you have not been to either, then you should consider your weekend plans made.