Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Owen & Engine

Brunch can be so many different things depending on where you go. Some people like to go to a bar that decided to have a buffet where you can get some mediocre mimosas or bloody marys. Other people like huge sugary meals that leave you in a moderate coma throughout the rest of your day. People even put up with places with goofy little ceramic chicken and egg designs all over the place. I'll put up with pretty much all of these gimmicks if the food and service are worth the while. Even better would be if you could just get right down to business. My friend Kate called me up to tell me there was an English Pub cranking out an unmatched brunch menu that we had to try out. So last weekend we headed out to Logan Square to hit up Owen & Engine.

Logistics
The biggest logistical issue with brunch throughout the city is the long wait that you face since practically nowhere takes reservations. We went to Owen & Engine at 11 AM and were sat right away (this may just be because it's only opened recently, and word hasn't spread yet). Not only were we sat right away, but we didn't feel busy or rushed at all. Our server gave us plenty of time and even kind of hung out and talked with us about their food for a bit.

The restaurant is two floors. We sat on the first floor which looks like a very standard English pub. The decor is real nice with a wood finish to everything. The second floor is pretty cool too. It looks a little like someone's apartment with a bar in the middle. They have lounge chairs, a fireplace, and a communal dining table. I kind of wish we'd sat up there, but the crowd wasn't large enough for them to open the upstairs.

The prices are a little up there with main dishes ranging from $9-$17. They also have a variety of small plates ranging from $5-$11 for the table to share. They also have a huge drink menu with a variety of cask pulled beers, teas, and coffees. If it wasn't brunch time, this would be an excellent place to come try a new beer (that's not to say that there weren't some enthusiastic patrons who were drinking before noon).

The Food
For our main dishes Kate got the Eggs Benedict and I got the Potato and Red Pepper Quiche. The Benedict may have been perfect. They used a crumpet instead of an English muffin for the base. There were thick and crispy slices of bacon along with a properly cooked over easy egg on top. The Quiche was also fantastic. The crust may have been the best part. It was amazingly flaky. The filling of layered potatoes was interesting, and the flavors of the peppers were well balanced. It came with a refreshing Arugula salad on the side as well.

The Potato and Red Pepper Quiche

 The Eggs Benedict

Kate got a few cups of coffee with her meal. It came out in a french press accompanied by sugar cubes, all in a nice china presentation. I got the impression that this would be a great place to come for tea time as well.

The Coffee

Not that we needed dessert or anything, but the pastry platter of the day was very enticing. It came with an Apple Doughnut, and Eccles Cake, a Cured Ham Scone, and some kind of airy fluffy cheese pastry. The Eccles cake was moist and light at the same time, but I don't know if currants are my favorite filling. Have you ever made scrambled eggs with cheese and had some scraping on the bottom of the pan (then eaten them afterward cause you're still hungry)? That's what the cheese pastry tasted like (a very good thing in my opinion). The Scone was perfectly textured (not too thick and slightly crumbly), and the cured ham gave a really interesting savory spin to the pastry. My favorite was definitely the Apple Doughnut. It reminded me of the doughnuts that I used to get when the Finkles took me apple picking (except this was maybe the best one I've had).

The Pastry Platter

Overall
Owen & Engine hits on so many key notes. They have a cool atmosphere, no wait (for now), interesting and focused staff members, a huge array of drink options from tea to beer, and most importantly food that may be unmatched elsewhere in Chicago. I didn't go for the traditional Bangers and Mash or English Breakfast, but we did have some top notch breakfast food. They didn't reinvent the wheel on breakfast. They're just doing it that well. I was thinking 4.5 Pearls, but the pastries really put the whole thing over the top. I'm giving Owen & Engine a Pearl Necklace, 5 out of 5.



Owen and Engine on Urbanspoon

Chicago Restaurants

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