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Brunch lives up to its namesake — and then some — at Brunch

Brunch’s tasty Belgian waffle is topped with fresh seasonal fruit whipped cream. | Richard A. Chapman~Sun-Times Photos

Brunch’s tasty Belgian waffle is topped with fresh seasonal fruit and whipped cream. | Richard A. Chapman~Sun-Times Photos

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644 N. Orleans; (312) 265-1411;

Hours: 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Friday; midnight-3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Prices: Eggs, omelets and pancakes, $5-$8.50; salads and sandwiches $6-$11.

In a bite: Brunch is all about breakfast and lunch, and the menu is expansive on both. There also is a bakery section up front where you can take away muffins, sconces (the blueberry scone is great), croissants. The space is light, bright and modern. Sit at the counter to watch your juice being freshly squeezed. Good for kids, families and groups (even early breakfast meetings).

KEY: ★★★★ Extraordinary;
★★★ Excellent; ★★ Very Good;
★ Good; Zero stars: Poor

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Updated: November 11, 2011 12:24AM

The brunch crunch is on. And the aptly named Brunch on North Orleans is the latest to get cracking.

Restaurants that once abhorred the idea of opening early on a Saturday or Sunday to serve brunch have been egged on by a host of hot eateries that are open every day of the week and serve only breakfast and lunch. This twist of the time frame appears to be working beyond wildest expectations. On a recent Saturday, there was a short wait when my wife and I showed up at Brunch. And it had been open for only a few weeks. And, much like at so many others around and about — Meli, Eggsperience, Yolk, Jam, Orange, Staxx, Wishbone — a hearty breakfast is a great way to greet the day.

This idea of breakfast all day or running into lunch is a trend that doesn’t seem to be waning in the least. Who doesn’t love a skillet of eggs, a stack of pancakes, omelets, waffles, French toast? Personally, I am partial to steak and eggs anytime. And given a choice, I will take a fine breakfast over even the finest that a fine-dining restaurant has to offer. But then I am an early riser, so that skews my eating interests.

Brunch fed my eggspectations (sorry about that) by the dozen. Skillets, omelets, egg combinations. The “Chi-Town” skillet, which was layered with eggs, sausage, bacon, Cheddar and potatoes, was a definite challenge. More than one person should have to deal with it, but I did.

My wife took one look at the breakfast burrito in front of her and said, “You are going to have to help me with this.” As it turned out, she didn’t need any help at all. All wrapped up in a spinach tortilla was a bountiful medley of scrambled egg, spinach, Cheddar and crumbles of sausage. Two sauces — jalapeno crema and salsa fresco — on the side added kick. But it was the “Brunch potatoes” that came with that pushed the envelope. Great potatoes — chunky-cut, golden and crispy outside with just the right firmness inside.

On a more creative note, the “Slumber Party” was an eye-opener. A slice of French toast is put into play as a “New England-style roll.” In fact, it looks like a flat-sided roll (the kind used for a lobster roll). Tucked into it was a plump and juicy Raisin River chicken apple sausage. Easy to eat, easy to fall in love with. Maple syrup came on the side, but I liked it without. Brunch potatoes come with this “Brunch Classic,” too. And, of course, I polished them off.

The Belgian waffle at Brunch was what a waffle should be: thick, a little crusty on the outside yet fork tender, with a hint of malt sweetness. To fill up the grid with maple syrup, you will need to work around the rubble of seasonal fruit and cloud of whipped cream, but that’s waffle enjoyment to the last bite while evading any thought of calories.


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