One of the more amazing parts about this job is having the chance to meet creative, intelligent people working to create their own brands and products. Alexis and I had the chance to brunch with two app creators who are on the forefront of changing the way restaurants create and manage wait lists.
John and James Yi, brothers born and raised in Chicago, have created the app, NextMe. NextMe is an application that allows restaurants to create a digital waitlist for tables during busy dining hours. This is useful for many reasons. Firstly, the app notifies patrons as to their place in line and sends them a text message when their table is ready for them. This allows patrons to not be tethered to the restaurant and instead gives them a chance to explore the neighborhood the restaurant is located. And secondly, the app benefits the restaurant by allowing the restaurant to track how long people are waiting and how many people stay on their waitlist or opt out of waiting in line. These statistics are very valuable for restaurants and will allow them to modify their business practices to make sure they retain customers.
John and James suggested that our meeting be over brunch at Southport Grocery. Southport Grocery is located in the Southport corridor, among the many amazing restaurants on Southport Avenue. I hadn’t yet dined at Southport Grocery, but had heard from many that it was absolutely a place the Bitches needed to review.
Southport Grocery is both a European-style cafe and a small grocery store that sells a variety of local goods and wine. Some of the merchandise sold is also used in the restaurant’s confections, which is fun because you can take what you like home with you!
To start, we ordered some sweet pastries for the table. The first was a pumpkin muffin and the second was a mixture of a croissant and muffin— aptly dubbed a cruffin. Between the two, I preferred the cruffin, plus I just like saying ‘cruffin’. I know, I call myself a basic Bitch— so you’d think I’d go nuts over the pumpkin muffin! The cruffin was just such a delightful surprise! The cruffin was a flaky, buttery croissant in a muffin form with plum preserves laced between its layers—it made the entire pastry. The plum preserves are also sold in the grocery, so you could take the preserve home to enjoy!
Southport grocery offers a fun and eclectic menu, taking well-known classics and creating its own version. For instance, most people are familiar with Poptarts. They’re the breakfast pastry that you had as a kid that always tasted like cardboard to me. Well, John ended up ordering the Southport Grocery’s grown up Poptart that’s completely different than the pastries you had as a child. This sophisticated take on a Poptart was actually a folded Challah bread filled with local fruit preserves, mascarpone, and vanilla walnuts and dusted with powdered sugar on top. Now, I’d had that option as a child, I would have eaten more Poptarts.
Alexis perused the menu and once she saw the bruschetta, she never looked back. She was right on that decision.The dish arrived as a magnificent plate of eggs, bread, cheese, tomatoes, and basil. She loved the dish but, then again, wouldn’t anyone love cheese bread, and tomatoes. Asked if she would order it again, she quickly said ‘yes!’
James opted for the smoked fish platter that included smoked salmon, Rushing Waters trout spread, house-made cream cheese, Bialy pickled asparagus, and sliced hardboiled egg. It reminded me of a classic Bagel and Lox plate, but the trout spread and pickled asparagus were unique, tasty additions.. I’ve always been partial to entrees that make it possible to assemble your own sandwich or dish as you like it.
For my entree, I opted for something I’ve never had: chorizo and eggs. The plate was filled with house-made chorizo, scrambled eggs, salsa verde, Melina’s tortilla chips, cilantro, and white onion with a side of queso fresco shallot sour cream. Sounds like a lot of food, right? Well it was and I ate almost all of it! It was so delicious, I simply didn’t want to stop eating. I would order this again for sure.
The Bitches say: A. Southport Grocery is a quaint neighborhood spot that everyone in the Southport should hope stays quiet and homey. But, this is a place that every Chicagoan should try at least once. And you can do some grocery shopping while you’re at it!
3552 N Southport Ave,
Southport Grocery serves brunch every day from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.