Bernie’s is an adorable and highly Instagram-worthy eatery on the corner of Erie and Orleans in River North. The menu is refined, and the ambiance is beautiful: white brick walls, a coffered ceiling, and lush blue velvet booths are accented with gold mirrors and chandeliers. The open concept kitchen and wood-fire oven set the stage for a casual Sunday meet-up or special occasion brunch. (In fact, we recommend it on our list of top Mother’s Day brunches). Once you’re through the blue door, you’re in an upscale brunch oasis.
The restaurant has been around since 2015, so Chase and I were surprised to see how busy and bustling it was when they invited us in at noon on a Sunday to treat us to brunch. Fours years in, it’s still a destination for diners. We settled into a small both for two to peruse the cocktail list.
Chase is a Bloody Mary enthusiast, but this time – we were faced with a question we’ve never been asked before: “Do you want ‘Lil Buddy’ beer to go with that?” What?! So many questions, but… of course we do! I still don’t understand why the Bloody Mary came with the option of a $4 little lager, but it seemed to be the restaurant’s answer to the extra shot of vodka that is sometimes served on the side. This is more fun though!
They had another interesting promotion going on. Bernie’s has partnered with The Botanist Gin and will donate one dollar from every gin cocktail order to The Greater Chicago Food Depository. Well, if it’s for charity then of course we will have some gin at noon! We opted for the “field of dreams” cocktail, made of gin, suze, lime, and avocado. This cocktail is great for a day that you can’t decide between a juice cleanse and a boozy brunch. It tasted like a healthy smoothie… with gin.
I ordered the greens and grains bowl with chicken, which was less of a grains bowl and more of a salad. It came with kale, spinach, shaved apple, quinoa, manchego, almonds, yogurt, and just a dash of cider vinaigrette. It had a pretty presentation and tasted just as you would expect it would. The most interesting part from a flavor perspective was the yogurt. It didn’t taste like yogurt – it was sweeter and a nice complement to the almonds. The chicken was a nice addition.
Chase ordered a customizable skillet. The eggs were a hard scramble with cheese, hash brown potatoes, jalapeño, tomato, cilantro, bacon, and Pico de Gallo. They had about 30 ingredients to choose from. It was a simple dish, but well executed.
The Bitches say: four Champagne flutes! This picture-perfect River North destination boasts classic brunch dishes and fun cocktails. Extra points for the little lager!
Bernie’s serves brunch Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.