When one of your best friends is home for the weekend, what better way to catch up than over blackberry bliss cakes at m. henry? Having moved to St. Louis this past summer, my dear friend Marisol had returned to Chicago for the weekend with three objectives in mind: visit family, catch up with the girls, and nosh on all her favorite Chicago eats.
Like several of its new hot-spot counterparts, m. henry is located a bit off the beaten path. Knowing we were headed up north to Andersonville, and without the ability to make reservations, we were out the door early that Saturday morning. Despite the conventional idea that girls always run late, Marisol, Lisa, and I were all punctual for our 9:30 a.m. catch-up sesh.
m.henry’s pastoral interior is complemented with a collection of warm country-side décor. Chalkboards listing daily specials hang from the ceiling, while linzer cookies, cinnamon rolls, and colorful coffee pots line the counters. We were seated promptly in a lovely booth near the window, and were in desperate need of coffee. Immediately served, the caffeine was ever-flowing. m. henry’s BYOB policy is definitely appealing (and fairly uncommon to Chicago brunch spots), but we opted to save the bubbly for our 7 p.m. rendezvous.
As we shared our own highlight reel of our lives’ recent events, we couldn’t help but peer at the surrounding tables to see what our neighbors were enjoying (it’s a habit of mine). There was a clear crowd favorite: thick slices of ‘rustic peasant quiche’ were everywhere.
Marisol couldn’t resist, and went for the quiche. It wasn’t a surprise that she loved it. The tasty, wholesome wedge was layered with crisp asparagus, sautéed leeks, and shallots. Personally, I’m a sucker for anything prepared with Gruyère, and when you throw in Applewood smoked bacon there’s even more to love. All of this, along with a balance of fresh veggies, was bound by a light, flaky butter-crust, making this well-contained dish perfect for sneaking a few bites.
Lisa ordered the dandelion, shallot, and leek omelet. This was my first encounter with dandelion greens, but I enjoyed this slightly bitter, leafy veggie. Similar in appearance to rapini, a quick Google search revealed that dandelion greens are chalk-full of nutrients and anti-oxidants. The dandelion greens, along with the other veggies, were cooked flawlessly and enveloped in a healthy egg-white pocket —all held together with velvety Fontinella cheese.
Both the quiche and the omelet were complemented with a refreshing side of fresh organic greens. Often dissatisfied with over-dressed salads, I appreciated these delicately dressed leaves. That said, while I usually enjoy the flavors of the Asian-influenced rice wine vinaigrette, it didn’t seem to align with the Provençal focused entrees.
As for me, I had to indulge in the oh-so-popular blackberry bliss cakes. After taking full advantage of the free Pilates class that’s offered every weekend at AMLI, I think I earned it. With one bite, they confirmed everything I hoped for. Gooey vanilla mascarpone was sandwiched between two layers of buttermilk pancakes. The blackberries were layered on top and in between, along with a light syrup-like sauce, drizzled around the edges. The bliss cakes weren’t as fluffy as I expected, even a tad dense, but nonetheless, they lived up to their name: pure bliss. I would advise sharing these among the table, unless you have a sweet tooth that can’t be tamed.
The Bitches say: A – m.Henry is a slightly out of the way neighborhood gem that focuses on local, seasonal, and organic ingredients. If only for a couple bites, give in to the blackberry bliss cakes—they’re definitely worth the calorie splurge.
5707 N. Clark St.
m.Henry is open for brunch on Tuesday-Friday at 7 a.m. and weekends starting at 8 a.m.