When I think brunch in Chicago a few things come to mind: $10 meals, large portions, a collection of alcoholic breakfast drinks, pricey coffee, some interesting spin on french toast or pancakes, and breakfast potatoes (why the hell can't anyone have shredded hash browns???!!!!). What's different about Feast (www.feastrestaurant.com) is that all of these things are just so well executed (but we'll get to that more in the Food section). For 2 years, my sister lived within three blocks of Feast. Because of it's excellent food the two of us and a collection of my couch crashing friends (especially Papa Scrotes) made Feast our go to place, and this past weekend I had the pleasure of returning with new roommates but the same old couch crasher.
Interesting other Wicker Park stereotypes that Feast fits:
1) It has a one word, and even a one syllable name (just walk up and down Damen and tell me that's not a fair stereotype).
2) A large proportion of the patrons are hipsters or new mothers trying to stay fit by wearing track suits and jogging with their strollers (but surprisingly eating large brunches).
In a neighborhood inhabited by a large amount of people that would typically enjoy brunch, it's hard to get a quick table at Feast without going at an off time (and by off time I mean like before 11 am, so it's not that bad). There's plenty of seating and a really cool outdoor area when the weather permits, so you could come with a decent sized party, but they don't take reservations. The service is pretty good, and even during some of the busiest times I've never had to wait too long for my food. Also, I've mentioned this before about Milk and Honey, but it's even truer for Feast, and that's that the neighborhood is perfect for enjoying while you walk off that big brunch. As far as pricing goes, it's pretty normal, but you get lots of good food for your money. The big picture as far as logistics goes is to come a little earlier than you hope to eat because the wait may be slightly unavoidable (but it's worth it). Finally, it's noteworthy that they supposedly serve a great lunch (I've never gone except for brunch), and that they have a location in the Gold Coast / River North area which is totally within distance for all you med school readers out there.
For starters, the drink options are great. I've only gotten the bloody mary once, but it's really spicy, chock full of veggies, and comes with a side of beer (so overall awesome, I just don't drink with breakfast too much). They also have great smoothies and what look to be good mimosas, and from what I hear the coffee is excellent (and that's mostly coming from a veteran starbucks barista).
So as far as the food goes, I usually get the same thing... the Breakfast Burrito. With it's guacomole, spicy mole sauce, and large proportion of eggs, I have a hard time getting anything else (but this doesn't stop me from mooching of everyone else's plates). This past weekend Papa Scrotes got the Peach French Toast which was soft and delicious on the inside, crispy on the outside, and they don't skimp on the peaches. Usually whatever the specialty french toast is you can't go too wrong, especially if you like large portions of fresh fruit. Other popular menu highlights include the breakfast croissant (never had because of the bacon/prosciutto content, but clearly a favorite among patrons) and the variety of omelets (normally I wouldn't say much about an omelet, but these are large and you really get a lot of the veggie ingredients which is always great).
You can't go wrong with Feast. There's something for everyone in your group whether they're overly picky, overly hungry, or just overly pretentious about their coffee. You may be coming into the epitome of brunch in the city with the crowds, prices, and large portions, but it just boils down to the fact that they do it all the right way. So put on your plaid shirt and thick rimmed glasses, and head out to Wicker Park/Bucktown (at a slightly off hour to save yourself waiting time) for a brunch you wont soon forget.
A quick final note: My next post will be about M Burger, Lettuce Entertain You's newest little burger stand in Streeterville. I thought I should warn you all now since I don't think I'll have time for a whole post till Sunday. Just go to McDonald's. The line's shorter and there's a pretty good chance you'll get to hang out with Joe Thum for a bit.