The strip on Lincoln Avenue between Fullerton and Webster in Lincoln Park is not a spot where I would typically go in search of brunch. It’s a few blocks of what most would consider to be your post-college, college bars. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great place to be late on a Saturday night, but not exactly where most spend their late Sunday mornings.
However, the nail salon I frequent is located on this strip, and one afternoon while I was getting my bi-weekly Bubble Bath mani, I was gazing out the window and noticed that a new eater- called Nighthawk: AM-had popped up across the street.
Interested, I did a quick Google search and discovered that Nighthawk: AM opened in late November of last year and comes to Chicago courtesy LA’s J. Fall Group. Founder Jeremy Fall originally opened Nighthawk: Breakfast Bar in LA and is testing out Nighthawk: AM as his first spin off concept, located right here in Chicago.
I visited recently on a Sunday morning with one of my good friend’s who also lives in the neighborhood. My initial impression of the space is that it’s quite small and very casual but has a very cool vibe about it. The design is simple, yet as you begin to settle in there are many details that slowly jump out at you that make the space it’s own. The floor is covered in retro advertisements for various breakfast foods that add cool pops of color.
The ordering experience is different in that you order at a counter and then sit down. I took some time make my decision, but the folks behind the counter were friendly and very patient with me. However, as I looked through the menu I quickly realized why the J. Fall Group had chosen this particular location to stake their claim. All of the items on the menu sounded exactly like what I would want to eat the morning after a great night out. If you catch my drift.
There is no alcohol on the menu, instead they have similarly appealing non-alcoholic drinks like the Hot Cuckoo, a cocoa puffs hot cocoa with burnt marshmallows on top, and the Cereal Milk Covfefe, a cup of dark roast coffee mixed with house-made cereal milk. They even allow you your choice of house made cereal milk from Cinnamon Toast Crunch to Cocoa Puffs and, last but not least, Fruity Pebbles.
After we ordered, we grabbed two seats at the bar and within a second our coffee was brought over to us. I was initially a little confused as the coffee was in a paper cup, but as I turned the cup around I was surprised and delighted by the adorable “Cup O’ Coffee” logo displayed on the front. It’s the little things that count.
We ordered three items from the menu, two each and one to share. I ordered the Oozapalooza sandwich, my friend chose The Blackhawk scramble and together we decided upon the AM Fries. All three items came to the table at the same time which worked out great as the AM Fries were the perfect thing to share.
The Oozzapalooza sandwich is a sunny side up egg, double cheddar cheese, Nighthawk sauce all on a cheddar and chive biscuit. To be honest, the presentation was a little underwhelming, but the flavor absolutely made up for it. The biscuit was moist, but still maintained the right amount of crumble. And the egg lived up to its name as it oozed perfectly with the cheese. And let’s please not forget about the Nighthawk sauce! I’m not entirely sure what it is, but if I had to guess I would say it’s a slightly spicy chipotle, that with the cheese and egg complimented the sandwich beautifully.
My friend’s Blackhawk scramble, was equally as good and surprisingly healthy. The dish comprised scrambled eggs, sweet corn, crispy Brussels sprouts, fennel hash, hot pepper Swiss cheese with BBQ spices, and a rosemary vinaigrette. The Brussel sprouts were a welcome addition as was the corn. Two items that I feel you don’t typically see paired with eggs. I enjoyed it, although my friend thought it was a tad on the spicy side for his taste.
And last but certainly not least, we enjoyed the AM Fries. I’m not entirely sure how to describe these-a picture perfect platter of French fries and tater tots, topped with salivating, gooey Hollandaise sauce, Swiss cheese and brown sugar. This is everything you could possibly want after a long night. The hollandaise sauce combined with the Swiss cheese is genius and we gobbled them down in a snap.
In general, Nighthawk: AM is definitely a more unique brunch experience and not for everyone seeking a pred. But in my opinion it’s a welcomed addition to the Chicago scene and breaks away from the more traditional stereotypes of brunch. Once in a while it’s nice to not have to make brunch an event and instead grab a friend or two and stroll down the street in your comfy clothes, grab a seat at the bar and catch up on the latest drama over some comfort food.
The Bitches say: B-. The space is small and the experience is very casual but the food is delicious and will fill you up.
Nighthawk: AM serves brunch Sunday through Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m and Thursday through Saturday from 8 a.m to 3 a.m.