When friends come to town, brunch becomes an event and I am always put in charge of finding the best brunch options to wow my out-of-town friends—talk about pressure! Oh, who am I kidding, I love it.
One of my dear friends, Sarah, was in town for a fun girls weekend full of wine, sightseeing, and catching up. Brunch, of course, was one of our “must-do” activities for Sunday, to cap off the weekend the right way.
One of my New Year’s resolutions for 2016 is to review a new brunch every month. So, as I began planning for brunch this weekend, I came across a new restaurant: Oyster Bah. Seafood brunch, eh? I’m game.
I met Sarah, Britt, and Britt’s husband Ryan at Oyster Bah promptly at 11 a.m. Why so punctual, you ask? As I was doing research on Oyster Bah, I saw only rave reviews and outstanding accolades, which really means: inevitable waitlist.
From the outside, Oyster Bah looks like any other restaurant along Halsted; it’s the interior that sets Oyster Bah apart from its competitors. Oyster Bah feels like a local fish dive, with a carefree, East Coast spirit and class that is enchanting the moment you walk in—needless to say, I was in love.
Since we were so prompt and punctual, we had our pick of the tables and chose a high top table right by the large, glass garage door at the front—better for photos, obviously.
While reminiscing about our college days and the weekend we had just spent together, we all ordered drinks—four Bloody Marys. The libations arrived cold, flavorful, a bit spicy, and decorated with olives, a jumbo shrimp, and a celery stalk. I loved it but I knew that if I had more than one, fitting food into my stomach would be a stretch (and I didn’t wear stretchy pants that day).
Next up were entrees, and Ryan had been eyeing the fried oysters eggs Benedict since we were given our menus—it was calling his name. The Benedict was a very simple, yet colorful, presentation with arugula, cherry tomatoes, fried oysters, and perfectly poached eggs. Ryan ate every bit of it, even before I could get a taste for myself.
I was a bit surprised that there wasn’t a side of fries but Ryan didn’t seem to mind and was upon clearing his plate, he quipped, “perfect proportion.” If you say so, Ryan.
There was one item on the menu that Sarah and I couldn’t resist: the Maine lobster rolls. Normally, I like to try and order a different dish than everyone at the table, so we can see the variety the menu has to offer. Variety aside, I’m really happy I went with what I was craving—the lobster rolls were delicious! The bread rolls were buttery and complimented the lobster concoction with mayo and celery. Another item worth noting was the amount of large chunks of lobster per roll—Oyster Bah certainly doesn’t skimp and was worth the $30 price.
For a sweet option, Britt went with the French toast bread pudding. I asked for a bite and one bite wasn’t enough—I wanted more! The Brioche bread was sliced thick and there were sauteed bananas, and a delicious syrup drizzled atop the tower of toast. Being a sweet dish bruncher, I absolutely loved this and was incredibly impressed.
Being a Bitch Who Brunches means being as incognito as possible while brunching, unless we are invited to dine at a restaurant. Being inconspicuous can be challenging as we take photos (sometimes atop chairs—it’s for the perfect angle, Bitches!) with large DSLR cameras. As I was taking photos of the decor, the manager, Nate, noticed me taking photos and inquired as to why—my cover was blown! I conceded and told him I was a “Bitch” reviewing the brunch and he immediately asked, “where are you seated? Do you want to try some more dishes? I’ll send some other dishes out for you.” SCORE!
Much to our delight, Nate was kind enough to deliver three dishes: the shrimp and grits, trout hash, and a plate of bacon—none of which I would have ordered for myself, but everything had been great so far, so why not step outside my wheelhouse?
Having never had shrimp and grits before, I was skeptical. Thankfully my friends had all had shrimp and grits and agreed, that this dish was amazing. The grits were perfectly seasoned and had a delicious tomato-based broth. The shrimp were cooked to perfection, large, and plentiful. Everyone agreed it was a delicious dish and would recommend it, hands down.
Next was the trout hash. A typical hash with cubed trout, potatoes, and two fried eggs on top. Again, something I had never have ordered for myself. It was delicious, it doesn’t compete with the shrimp and grits, French toast, or lobster roll. For me, the consistency wasn’t for me and I’m not a huge trout fan but it was well seasoned and another unique option for brunch.
The side of bacon was not your typical bacon—it was candied and spicy! With all the new bacon trends, this was the kind of bacon that I would expect to see at a gourmet restaurant, or atop a donut, but I loved the change of pace. The spice took me by surprise but I really enjoyed it.
And last, but certainly not least, we were presented with a delicious piece of coconut cake. I’m picky when it comes to coconut cake—my love for coconut cake runs deep in my veins and I have high expectations. This cake exceeded my expectations and blew all of us away. None of us thought we had any more room, but one bite of this cake made us all figure out how to make room. Where there’s a will, there’s a way, and this cake is worth it.
All in all, I’m incredibly impressed with Oyster Bah. The ambiance is friendly and casual, the staff is kind and knowledgeable, and the menu boasts a variety of food for everyone to enjoy—seafood lovers and haters alike.
The Bitches say: A. From ambiance to oysters, candied bacon to coconut cake, Oyster Bah is an incredible new addition to the brunch scene in Chicago. Lincoln Park is happy to have them and I can’t wait to frequent there more often for oysters and libations.
1962 N Halsted St.
Chicago, IL 60614
Oyster Bah serves brunch every Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.