Situated on Michigan Avenue just north of The Bean, About Last Knife in Hotel Julian is equal parts a play on words and a play on a steakhouse. Named after the Chicago-based film “About Last Night” which circles around that awkward morning-after conversation, About Last Knife (also known as ALK) turns the Chicago steakhouse into a lighthearted affair, and they invited me in to try their brunch.
Photo Credit: Daniel Kelleghan
The front of the restaurant has a more loungy feel, with leather sofas surrounding low tables and a long communal table at which someone was working on his laptop while sipping a coffee. The bar has beautiful tile work around the front with more cozy seating. Exposed brick creates a feature wall in the dining area, with bronze accents on the chairs and fixtures. It’s a subtle space that manages to look glam but also allows people to get comfortable and relax.
We started our meal as all brunches should start, with a glass of Champagne. They were slightly dry and not too sweet, an excellent choice by our server. We ended up following the champagne with cocktails from their literary-themed drink menu. ALK has partnered with the American Writers Museum to create these drinks. On Wednesdays, anyone dining at ALK who donates a book to Hotel Julian’s library will receive a complimentary cocktail from the restaurant’s literary-inspired drink menu! I went with the “Hemingway daiquiri,” which is made exactly how Hemingway liked it – with a lot of rum. A dash of grapefruit, lime, and maraschino add a slightly citrus flavor to the drink, but the main focus here is the rum, and I’m not complaining. Jessica had the Sandra Cisneros-inspired cocktail with tequila, apricot, and lime. The apricot provided a fruity twist to the usual tequila with lime and tasted refreshing!
Diving into food, we started with the smoked salmon avocado toast and the French toast. The smoked salmon was served on pumpernickel bread with perfectly ripe avocado. It tasted tart from the pickled onion, smokey from the salmon, and refreshing from the dill and quail egg. The French toast is for those with a sweet tooth! Served with a sweet blueberry sauce and crunchy candied bacon-fat peanuts (roasted in-house), there was no need to add maple syrup. Sliced bananas on top made it feel like I was making a healthy(ish) choice. The challah bread completed the dish with a rich flavor.
Our second course was everything poached. We had the poached shrimp and poached chicken caesar salads. The poached shrimp was served over a bed of tomato, celery, radish, and herbs. The sumac dressing gave the dish a tangy, lemon flavor. This is a great dish for anyone looking for something light and fresh! The poached chicken Caesar salad is a great classic, and while the chicken seemed a little slimy from being poached in olive oil, it was juicy. The baby kale salad is sprinkled with parmesan and breadcrumbs to add an extra crunch.
Photo Credit: Daniel Kelleghan
We closed our meal with the beef Wellington Benedict and the braised short rib Frito-quiles. The Benedict was unique for me – I’ve never seen beef Wellington in Benedict-form! Beef Wellington is also a specialty at About Last Knife. The beef was perfectly cooked and the pastry was incredibly flakey. The eggs were perfectly poached… so perfect that they were still egg-shaped. I was thoroughly impressed, as were my tastebuds… but this was only my second favorite dish of the meal. My favorite was the braised short rib Frito-quiles. I love that they used actual Fritos! The flavor was salsa-forward; a little kick of spice was tempered by the avocado crema. The tenderness of the short rib was balanced by the crunch of the Fritos. This was a hit and I highly recommend!
The Bitches Say: Four Champagne Flutes!
About Last Knife provides a classic brunch with a few fun twists and delicious cocktails. Definitely hit up this downtown spot when you’re in the area!
About Last Knife serves brunch daily from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.