Weekday brunches can be hard to find in a pinch, but nothing quite smooths over a rough work week like a Fri-YAY brunch pow wow.
My friend Jaci and I had finished work early on a Friday afternoon and both of us were in need of a Bitch-fest (pun intended). Our goal was to commiserate over eggs and coffee but where to go was the biggest question.
As I was scouring Google Maps, looking for suitable options between her apartment and mine, I found Nookies Tree. Nookies Tree is part of the Nookies family, a classic Chicago establishment whose original location in Old Town garnered a Bitch review years ago—the perfect solution to our predicament.
Nookies Tree is a small, diner restaurant known for always having a wait, and turning tables quickly. It is full of enormous windows, green glass overhead lights, and white tables dressed with an assortment of condiments. By comparison to Nookies in Old Town, there was something more “commercial” about this location. This could be because of how white tables and gray tiled floor made it feel generic. This Nookies Tree doesn’t have the same worn and loved feel like the Nookies in Old Town.
Not to judge a book by its cover, Jaci and I decided to stay and made our way to the back of the restaurant. Our table was next to an enormous window, which afforded us a significant amount of light and plenty of people watching on Halsted Street.
Our waiter greeted us promptly and left us with water and menus to choose our brunch entrees. But of course, drinks were ordered immediately as the two of us were parched.
To drink, Jaci ordered a cappuccino. When the cappuccino arrived, she was confused: did someone drink some, or was it just half full? This was not a huge cup to say the least, and for the drink to arrive half full was a little off putting. While the cappuccino was delicious, caffeinated, and frothy, Jaci said the stingy pour would make her question ordering another specialty coffee drink from them again.
I ordered my standard cup of coffee with cream and sugar. I was also left disappointed since the coffee tasted burnt, and no matter how much cream and sugar I dumped in my coffee to mask it, that taste was still there. Nookies Tree failed the beverage portion to this brunch, but what about the food?
Jaci wanted a bit of both something sweet and something salty. So, she opted for the French toast, with scrambled eggs and bacon on the side. The French toast was delicious. The bread was thickly cut, hand dipped in egg, nutmeg, and cinnamon, and fried in a pan. The edges of the bread caramelized and were perfectly sweet and crunchy. This is the typical comfort food that you can find across the country in any diner and thankfully, Nookies Tree nailed the French toast.
The side of bacon and eggs were also delicious. The eggs were lightly seasoned with salt and pepper, and the bacon was cooked crispy. The sides were a nice compliment to the sweet French toast.
I opted for the B.E.S.T., which stands for bacon, eggs, spinach, and tomato. The sandwich came on toasted sourdough bread and slathered with chipotle aioli. With grated hashbrowns on the side, I was in heaven with this dish. The sourdough bread added a nice flavor which complimented the eggs, spinach, and tomato. The inclusion of sauteed spinach in a breakfast sandwich added a freshness that can sometimes be missed by other breakfast sandwiches.
All in all, Nookies Tree was your average diner that unfortunately had some lackluster moments. My breakfast sandwich was a nice addition to the menu, but it was not the kind of diner where you’ll find unique takes on typical diner dishes. When you want basic, go to any of the Nookies establishments. When you want a bit more, go elsewhere.
The Bitches say: C. This average brunch spot will always be around, and while we love consistency, we didn’t love the burnt coffee or lack of creativity throughout the menu.
3334 N Halsted St
Chicago, IL 60657
Nookies Tree serves breakfast and brunch all day, every day.