This past weekend, the weather was insane in Chicago—thunderstorms and torrential downpours. Normally, brunching wouldn’t be so fun on a rainy day, but thankfully the lovely folks at AceBounce had invited me and some friends to try brunch, and it was the perfect spot for inclement weather.
I had been trying to plan a weekend for a girls brunch with all my ladies, and after weeks of bouncing around dates, we finally found one that worked. Unfortunately, the majority of them ended up not wanting to brave the rain and bailed. Seriously, girls?
But I could count on my sister and my friend Charlotte. Char was the first to arrive, and being the interior decorator she is, she immediately texted me saying how in love she was with the artwork and how awesome the space was.
She was totally right. AceBounce is one of a few ping pong spots in Chicago. No offense to SPiN, the other ping pong place in Chicago, but this space is just incredible.
The restaurant, named 1901, is located downstairs, and it is huge. It was great to have to go downstairs; with no windows and a dimly lit environment, it was easy to forget how awful the weather was outside. Seriously, next time it is pouring outside or the weather is gross (winter!), go to AceBounce. You won’t regret it.
The restaurant’s decor and finishes are stunning. On the bright red walls hang awesome and unique pieces of artwork that are fun and modern. The vibe is very cool; the lighting is perfect for the space—not too dark but it sets the mood for a club-like atmosphere, even at brunch. Ping pong tables are aligned in a row from one end of the restaurant to the next, with happy and buzzed brunchers playing at the tables.
I hadn’t familiarized myself with the brunch menu, and I was delightfully surprised when I was informed it was a bottomless brunch with both bloodies and mimosas. I was even more delighted when I saw monster food carts, taller than I am, exiting the kitchen heading towards the tables.
Racks and racks of different brunch items were presented to the table. From pizzas and yummy appetizers, to thick bacon and waffles on a stick, every item was aligned perfectly on serving plates and served in a single-serving portion.
I rushed to get a couple of photos; challenging, for one, because the lighting was not the best, but secondly, because every guest in our area surrounded the cart, anxiously and impatiently waiting to dig in. Sorry, folks!
Starving, the three of us joined the others. The plates were small, one downside to the brunch, but since many of the dishes were individually portioned, it wasn’t that bad. Once we had settled back at our table with our first round of food, we were giddy when the servers started exiting the kitchen with plates in hand of other items.
Word to the wise: get a table in the back by the kitchen! Best spot in the house, and it is also conveniently located by the service bar, so you are also the first stop for cocktail refills.
I had ordered a few different cocktails for us to try, and thankfully they were not only delicious, but the presentation was beautiful. Our favorite was the “Island in the Stream,” a gorgeous concoction made with gin, Blue Curaçao, agave, lemon, Prosecco, and topped with a marshmallow “island.”
Considering this was essentially a brunch buffet, I must say the food was amazing. I admit, I assumed that AceBounce might not have the best food. I figured it was more of a gaming atmosphere and cocktail-focused place. I was completely wrong.
All of the dishes were delicious, and the presentation was awesome. I loved the individual portions. At a buffet, you can expect the food to look unappealing after folks take the first couple of spoonfuls of the different platters, but here you get your own cute mini plates of food.
The way everything was organized made it all accessible. Carts continuously rolled out of the kitchen every ten to fifteen minutes, ensuring fresh and hot food. Mini quinoa tacos and thick-cut bacon strips called “Millionaire Bacon” were among the dishes brought by the servers.
Additionally, there was a variety of whole, thin-crust pizzas. The egg Florentine pizza was rich and creamy; it was made with a white sauce, and the eggs were quail eggs.
Other yummy dishes included breakfast items such as a truffle egg scramble, a tropical fruit smoothie, berries and yogurt, and my absolute favorite, the maple and brown sugar waffles. Cute little waffle balls lined on a stick, these were crispy, sweet and full of flavor.
I passed on the everything schmear bagel with cream cheese, smoked salmon, pickled red onions and capers, but Charlotte tried it. She wasn’t the biggest fan, and said the smoked salmon didn’t taste as fresh as she would like.
Lunch-like items were mac and cheese with braised short rib, chicken kebabs, coconut and shrimp dumplings, and the overall fan favorite of our meal, the duck nuggets. Made with Yuzu kosho barbecue, cilantro and a hint of mint, essentially these were little, savory duck sausages. We loved them.
One thing to note: AceBounce isn’t very vegetarian or vegan friendly.
We were pretty satiated and ready to play some pong when suddenly the lights turned off and the whole place turned into a black-lit neon dance club. The artwork on the wall transformed into neon colors. It changed the vibe of the place completely, and everyone embraced it; it was so fun to play ping pong in the dark and dance to the ’90s jams.
AceBounce was a ton of fun; in addition to the delicious food, the cocktails were also creative. We enjoyed the “Coffee and Cigarettes” with rye, vermouth, vanilla, scotch mist, and orange flower water, a great “wake-you-up” drink. We also loved the “Pop Movie,” made with Pisco, apricot, violette, lime, egg white, lavender.
We loved AceBounce, and are certain you will too. It’s fun, the food was great, and who can beat bottomless mimosas and ping pong? Not us.
The Bitches say: B+. Host your birthday here, plan a day of day drinking and gaming, or come brunch and listen to awesome music with your friends.
230 N. Clark Street
Weekend brunch is served Saturdays and Sundays beginning at 12 p.m.