With our typical Chicago summer nowhere in sight, I have been looking for brunches to cheer me up from this dreary, cold weather. I met up with my friend, Andrew, at Merchant, situated just off Logan Square Park. Approaching its one-year anniversary, Merchant boasts the relaxed vibe that the Logan Square neighborhood has become known for. Andrew and I bypassed the patio seating, which looks perfect for enjoying sunny days and people watching at the farmers market and headed inside because of the weather.
The interior is understated and casual with a tin ceiling and Edison bulbs, giving the place a warm glow. A dressed-up lounge area in the back is complete with a leather sofa, oriental rug, and moody floral wallpaper. Couples dotted the tables, and there were a few people seated at the bar, ensuring they had the best seats for the FIFA Women’s World Cup games that would be showing on the bar televisions. The lounge area was still available, but we opted for a brighter table with more natural light near the large front windows that opened out onto the sidewalk.
While Andrew made sure to get his coffee fix – they serve Dark Matter coffee, for the coffee enthusiasts out there – I was busy looking at their list of seasonal, curated cocktails. I opted for the delicious “blueberry yum yum,” made with vodka and limoncello. It was light and refreshing and tasted just like blueberry lemonade. Andrew settled on a classic mimosa, and he proudly announced that they had perfectly hit the correct ratio of orange juice to Champagne, and the orange juice didn’t have any pulp.
We began our feast with an order of cheddar biscuits. I tend to be a buttermilk biscuit loyalist, but these flaky cakes of cheddar goodness hit the spot. The initial cheese-flavor overload is followed by a slight kick of spiciness that Andrew and I both enjoyed. These come with sides of butter and jam, which enhance the flavor and can also tone down the spicy kick.
Our waitress encouraged me to try the barbacoa hash, which was definitely not my first choice. I am a classic eggs Benedict or pancakes bruncher, but she was very convincing. The hash came served in a warm skillet with peppers, cheese, and barbacoa layered over a bed of somehow still crispy potatoes. I seriously don’t know how they did that. Topped with two sunny side up eggs, it was heaven. All of the different food textures in this dish combined into a perfect harmony. I may have to be more adventurous with my food choices from now on, because I definitely recommend this dish!
Andrew ordered the lox, and while one would expect the traditional salmon on a bagel, this was more like salmon toast. It was fine, but certainly didn’t have the same effect. Served with a side of greens, it had a colorful presentation. Andrew, who I now know as a lox aficionado, also mentioned the salmon wasn’t as cold as it typically is when served as lox.
Our gloomy brunch ended with a sudden downpour, and the manager came over to personally offer us an umbrella! I suppose we didn’t look so happy about the weather, but luckily, we both came prepared.
The Bitches say: three Champagne flutes
Overall, we were happy with our visit to Merchant! The cocktails are delicious, the food was mostly a hit (maybe pass on the lox), and I’m dreaming of my next chance to get back to enjoy their outdoor seating.
Merchant serves brunch Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m and Sunday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.