Brunch at Barton G
The Barton G in Los Angeles doesn’t do brunch. Neither does the Barton G in Miami. But this is Chicago, and on Sundays from 10 to 3, Chicagoans eat brunch. So on the first Sunday in May, Barton G Chicago served its very first brunch.
Dinner at Barton G* is a well-orchestrated, over-the-top circus, where servers carrying platters garnished with towering gewgaws navigate the packed dining room with the grace of the corps de ballet in “Swan Lake.” Brunch is a bit calmer, given that it's centered on a buffet. Make that a well-orchestrated buffet, where certain of the dishes are over-the-top.
In 2019, the first Sunday in May was also Cinco de Mayo, and in Chicago, Cinco de Mayo is a cause for celebration,whatever your ethnicity. So in keeping with local tradition, Baron G’s very first brunch had a Mexican theme, albeit a “subtle” Mexican theme, since Barton G is always true to its own identity.
The lavish buffet stretches across the front of the dining room. It occupies its own space, so the queue doesn’t impinge on seated guests. To give it its due, guests should plan on making more than one trip, unless you’re one part juggler or acrobat, in which case you can the number of trips in half.
The contents of the buffet will shift with the seasons and holidays. I understand the need for change, but even so, I’m hoping the gigantic, head-on, better-than delicious shrimp continue to make the cut. Maybe they could be a signature item, hopefully accompanied by the kind of bibs reserved for chowing down on ribs or lobsters.
Like the shrimp, the tender, well-marbled prime rib was gargantuan, complete with bones sized for a Saint Bernard. The server will cut as much as you want, and remember, you can always go back for seconds, which is always a good approach when faced with a buffet stocked with an array of tempting options.
The small supplemental buffet/station at the back of the restaurant was all about all about tacos, an obvious nod to Cinco de Mayo. Three toppings, a small selection of garnishes, and a choice of tortillas rounded out the savory portion of the menu.
There was a good selection of pastries on the buffet. But if you’re a party of two or four or more, think about ordering one of the a la carte desserts. They’re Barton G on a plate: great eye candy with flavor to match.
* For more about Barton G, check out the April blog “A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words.”
Barton G The Restaurant, 415 N. Dearborn Street, 312.260.5050. Brunch is served Sundays from 10 am to 3 pm.
Happy Hour at Imperial Lamian
Unlimited dim sum for $ 15 a person is enough to make me a Happy Hour regular at Imperial Lamian. Everyone at the table has to opt for the dim sum, a restriction that definitely makes sense. There were eight different options to choose from, and I can personally vouch for the crispy wonton, spring roll, and mushroom bun.
Add $6 and you can sample the lamian (hand-pulled noodles) served with broth and add-ons. Versions like the roasted chicken, mixed mushroom, and peanut, merit a single chili for heat, while others, including the char siu and wonton, beef brisket and braised pork belly, are mild and don’t. The lamian is available in three different shapes, and since the soup is served as a single portion, you can pick and choose according to your own preferences.
Of course, no Happy Hour is complete without some alcoholic options. Wine is limited to a red and a white, but for $5 a glass, the white was definitely quaffable. The choice of beers and bumps was also limited, and cocktails were available in sizes designed to serve 4-5.
You can run up a sizable bill if you try to sample everything. Instead, you can adopt a strategy that calls for sampling a single part of the menu per visit. That’s not tough duty, given the quality of the food.
Imperial Lamian, 6 W. Hubbard Street, 312.595.9440 Happy Hour is Mondays-Fridays from 3-6pm.
Historic downtown Long Grove will host the 2019-edition of its annual Chocolate Fest on May 17th, 18th and 19th. Expect family-friendly events and eating contests, along with an opportunity to taste everything from chocolate kabobs and chocolate covered cheesecake, to chocolate bacon and chocolate cotton candy.
For information, check the website: www.longgrove.org/festivals/cholate-fest/
La Pizza & La Pasta, one of several restaurants at Eataly, is launching Pizzata, a new event series typical of a traditional Italian pizza party that brings together family and friends to celebrate a special event or person. As part of the series, a prominent Chicagoan will guest host an event benefitting a local charity. A traditional pizza featuring the host's favorite ingredients will be included on La Pizza & La Pasta's menu for that night only.
The lineup begins with media personality Whitney Reynolds on May 30th, celebrity hairstylist Anthony Cristiano on June 24, and Choose Chicago CEO and President David Whitaker on July 11.
Eataly 43 E. Ohio Street, 312.521.8700