One of the problems with going out for Sunday brunch in Chicago (or anywhere, for that matter) is that there is inevitably a long wait to sit down, and you’re usually hungry and craving caffeine because you’ve been postponing breakfast for half the morning. Another problem with brunch is that it’s almost never worth waiting for. The pancakes, omelets, French toast and muffins served in most restaurants are rarely better than what you can make at home in less time and at a fraction of the cost. That’s why when I go out to brunch I like it to either be for food I don’t know how to make at home (e.g. dim sum), or for food that’s actually unique and of a higher quality than I might have attempted. M.Henry in Andersonville is a perfect example of the latter.
The line to be seated was quite long when Empanada Boy and I arrived for brunch with Mimosa and Half White With Hot. A few members of our party purchased drinks and small pastries from the bakery to stave off hunger. But after we sat down and our food arrived, nearly all annoyance at the wait vanished. That’s because the dishes that the waiter set before us were distinctive, beautiful and delicious. Take, for example, this decadent brioche French toast with apricots, blueberries and almonds, which even the dauntless Empanada Boy couldn’t quite finish. Or feast your eyes on the dish pictured above thatâ€” the Tuscan Eggs Benedict. This consisted of slices of crusty Italian bread topped with goat cheese pancetta and poached eggs, all coated in a deeply flavorful stewed tomato sauce.
M.Henry clearly shines when it comes to glorifying the mundane. This skill is evidenced by the sublime fried egg sandwich pictured here. Sourdough toast encases two over-medium eggs, applewood bacon, sliced tomatoes, Gorgonzola, and fresh thyme. How could anyone even think of eating an Egg McMuffin when something as glorious as this exists in the world? Every ingredient tasted fresh and carefully crafted. Half White With Hot ordered this, and I envied him the moment he did.
Mimosa ordered another M.Henry specialty: the Blackberry Blisscakes. These were two pancakes layered with warm blackberries and mascarpone and topped with a brown sugar oat crust. Needless to say, Mimosa ate about a quarter of this and the rest of us made our best effort to help her finish it off. To no avail! I think the pastries beforehand may have been partially responsible. If I ever ordered this again, I would share it with at least one other person.
One final commendable thing about M.Henry is its prices. Faithful readers of this blog may recall my comments on Over Easy in which I cried out at the injustice of $10 omelets. The food we ate at M.Henry cost around $8 a plate, and it was far more innovative. Who says quality always has to come at a cost?
5707 N. Clark St.
Chicago, IL 60660