Typically, I've thought of Glenn's as a dinner spot with their excellent selection of fish, but when it came time for Mom to pick where to eat Mother's Day Brunch, she was quick with her choice. I came in with a skeptical attitude. I thought this place was too specialized and that the breakfast food would just be standard diner fare. How wrong I was.
For those of you downtown or in streeterville, this may be somewhat of a schlep. It's in Ravenswood near the brown line Montrose stop on the corner of Damen and Montrose. One thing that's nice about the location is that if you drive, there's plenty of nearby parking, and it's convenient for people coming from the suburbs who don't want to fight through city traffic. The neighborhood is pretty empty as far as things to do, but a Chicago "landmark" ice cream joint, Margie's Candies, is right across the street for dessert.
As far as the restaurant itself, there's very little seating, maybe enough for 25. They have outdoor seating when it's nice out which probably doubles their capacity. With the small capacity, they do still take reservations, which are practically necessary. They may not have your original requested time, but don't fret, they probably have space for you 3 minutes after that time. When I called, they didn't have space at 1:00, but they were able to take us at 1:03 if we were willing to wait (not a joke which I discovered after having a laugh that was not reciprocated by the host).
The general setup is a bunch of tables crammed into a pretty small room. The atmosphere is casual, and the waitresses even put up with bad jokes. This was epitomized by a single conversation we had with the waitress in which my sister and mom explained that their pants were "Jeggings", and my dad explained that he was having a "MO" (mouth orgasm).
The Dinner Menu
Up till this visit, I'd only had fish, but since that wasn't this time around, I don't want to spend too much time on that (but it still deserves some mention). The dinner menu is written up on a large blackboard on the wall because it's constantly undergoing alterations. The Crab Cakes are fantastic, but a little small. The Clam Chowder is some of the best I've ever had. I've had a majority of fish items from the blackboard, and I'd easily say that so far this is my favorite fish place in the city. I know you wouldn't think that a diner can serve up good fish, but they're doing it fresh every day (disclaimer: if you show up for a late dinner, many of the fish options may be out). Each fish comes with a big portion of vegetables and boiled potatoes. It can get a little pricey in the $20 range, but if you get there for an early dinner they have a special for $15. They also have all you can eat ribs, shrimp, and crab legs depending on the day of the week.
My Mom and her Big Fat Bloody Mary
(notice the shrimp and melon)
The Spanish Coffee
So on to this visit. We started with a round of drinks. I went for the Fresh Squeezed OJ, my parents had Big Fat Bloody Marys, and Noam had the Spanish Coffee. The Bloody Mary was extra spicy like my parents prefer, it had all the proper condiments, and it came with 6 pieces of shrimp. The Spanish Coffee is a coffee drink mixed with Triple Sec, Kahlua, and Bacardi 151. Normally I'm not much of a morning drinker, but when people said they needed help finishing these, I jumped at the opportunity.
The Three Napkin Meatloaf Sandwich
The Duck Trap Smoked Trout Hash and Eggs
The Fresh Spinach and Tomato Eggs Benedict
(side of potato pancake)
The Corned Beef Hash and Eggs
The Banana's Foster Apple Pancake
For our meals, the table basically shared the Three Napkin Meatloaf Sandwich, the Fresh Spinach and Tomato Eggs Benedict, the Banana's Foster Apple Pancakes, the Duck Trap Smoked Trout Hash and Eggs, and the Corned Beef and Yukon Gold Hash and Eggs. The Meatloaf was really juicy and came with a homemade cole slaw. The Benedict was pretty standard except that everything was done perfectly. The eggs were poached nicely, and the hollandaise sauce had just the right consistency. The Apple Pancake had a soft texture and was smothered in caramelized bananas (it was like everyone's dessert). The Trout Hash had a creamy overall texture, and the trout was salty and delicious like a smoked fish should be. Finally, the Corned Beef Hash was another well done standard item. From the regular dishes to the inventive ones, everything was gigantic and made with care. Even though it was a diner, there was none of that "rustic" or overly greasy diner feel to the food.
A horoscope method to choose your cereal
One final note on the food is that they have a large selection of breakfast cereal. One of the walls is devoted entirely to shelving the cereal boxes, and you can even get combinations of your favorites. I would never get this or recommend such a thing since the other food is a can't miss, but maybe if you have a picky eater in your midst, you can use this as a ploy to get them to come here.
For fish, there's no other place I'd rather go. At first, I wasn't so sure what the breakfast would be like, but I was blown away. Everything had the same creative spin that the dinner provides if not more. If you don't like creative, they still do the standards just as well if not better than most other brunch places in the city. It's interesting to compare Glenn's to a place like Southport Grocery, the restaurant I'd previously held as my favorite brunch locale. Glenn's may not be as creative, but they offer additional choices to the creative ones, and the meals are much bigger. Also, if you hadn't noticed, it's practically impossible to find a brunch place that takes reservations (huge point for Glenn's). With the abundance of "MOs" going around the table, I feel compelled to give Glenn's Diner 4.5 out of 5 Pearls.