After two years of living in Chicago, on the last weekend in September, I finally decided to take a day and check out the Randolph Street Market. Located in the West Loop, the Randolph Street Market is an indoor-outdoor market that’s home to the Chicago Antique Market, the Indie Designer Market, and Modern Vintage Chicago. Held the last weekend of each month, this awesome festival houses awesome vendors, antique items for sale, and plenty of food.
Before embarking for the market, my fiance, Chris, and I decided to brunch. Wanting to stay in the West Loop, we opted for a spot I had been dying to try for some time now: Belly Q. Belly Q is Chicago’s Asian BBQ hot spot, and comes from the creative ingenuity of Chef Bill Kim. I had been hearing about this place for some time and been wanting to check it out. Conveniently located right across Randolph Street from the market, the restaurant was convenient for our plans for the day and I made reservations for 11:30 a.m. on Sunday.
The restaurant is built in a large brick building. It’s big, open, and well lit; industrial and modern with interesting, yet cozy, decor. The restaurant also offers tabletop grills for their evening BBQ options, which is really cool. The bar located at the front of the restaurant is chic and welcoming. The host was kind and seated us at a window seat after we indicated our preference.
Both Chris and I were extremely hungry… and thirsty. We quickly decided to start with breakfast cocktails and a few appetizers to share. The brunch menu is intense, with a variety of different items that you might have to read twice to fully understand what the dish actually entails. We still needed a moment to decide on food, but we went ahead and ordered cocktails; a Bellmary for me and a Shochu-rita for Chris. Both were good; the restaurant’s twist on regular Bloody Marys and Margaritas.
Upon our drinks arriving at the table, we went ahead and ordered some small bites to start. I was dying to try some dumplings so we chose the pork and cilantro dumplings to begin. In typical Bitch fashion, I just had to order the Vietnamese cinnamon donuts. One unspoken Bitch rule — always order the doughnuts! Everything on the menu not only sounded really delicious, but interesting as well. Both the breakfast Ramen and the Korean breakfast tacos caught my eye. We took advantage of this time to chat with our server about the menu as well. While the restaurant wasn’t fully busy, there were a lot of tables and it seemed as if our server had most of them. This was the first moment since being seated that she was able to chat with us.
While I was certain I was going to choose the Korean Breakfast tacos, I asked her how the tea smoked duck benedict was, and she told me it was delicious and she would chose that over the breakfast tacos any day. She described some of the other menus as “basic” breakfast items we could get anywhere so she recommended choosing that, to which I complied, although I found it odd that she would describe the other items in that manner.
Chris opted for the beef brisket skillet, accompanied with the potatoes. He is such a meat and potatoes guy it is not even funny–I knew that’s exactly what he’d order.
He also chose two sides to share; the Maple glazed Tagarashi bacon, and the smashed red bliss potatoes.
Much to our surprise, all of our food had arrived at the table together in less than ten minutes. I was a little disappointed; we had ordered the starters separate from our entrees. I really wanted to have time to enjoy all of the food, and not have to rush to eat it all before it got cold. We decided to save the doughnuts for the end of the meal.
The dumplings looked great and were really good. Flavorful with a little kick, we both thoroughly enjoyed them. As we moved onto our main courses, I must admit, I was a little bit intimidated by my meal. It was not as visually appetizing as Chris’ entree, I think due to its many components.
The eggs component of the Benedict were deep-fried tempura eggs. They had a hard-crusted outer shell and when you cut into them they oozed out egg yolk. The tempura tasted good, but the egg was runny and just barely warm. I would have preferred the eggs prepared differently, or poached a little longer— they were just way too runny for my liking. The duck tasted pretty good, as did the sauce on top. The biscuits in the meal were just okay.
Chris really enjoyed his dish, noting that while it wasn’t very warm, the flavors were really yummy. After he realized I wasn’t a huge fan of my dish, he offered to share. The beef brisket was flavorful and moist, and the vegetables were tangy. The sweet and tangy sauce was a definite highlight. Our side of bacon was okay; it was super sticky from the maple glaze, but had a nice kick.
We finished our meal off with the doughnuts that we had been patiently waiting to sample as they sat on the table among the other dishes. The doughnuts were really good. The blueberry jam on top was a nice touch, but not necessary. The sugary goodness of the doughnuts alone was enough.
Our server had not been by to give a table check, so when she came back to clear our plates and drop of the check she noticed that mine still had a good amount of food left, so she asked if I had enjoyed it. I answered honestly and told her it wasn’t my favorite, but I was happy we had other things to pick at and that I enjoyed them more. We settled our tab and finished our cocktails, and with our bellies full we headed over to the Randolph Street Market on the hunt for some cool antiques.
The Bitches Say: B-. A very cute spot known for its unique take on Asian, but Belly Q missed the mark this time on brunch. Some items were better than others, but overall nothing exceptional about the brunch here, and service that left us with more to be desired.
1400 W Randolph St.
Belly Q serves brunch every Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.