Something I find amazing is how quickly I have adapted to the cooler temperatures in Chicago. Let me explain: I grew up in Northern Virginia, where I was used to 90 plus degree temperatures and excruciating humidity during the summers, and yet I’ve lived here a year and a half and now can’t tolerate any temperature above 88 degrees. What? How did that happen?
This particular weekend was HOT—for Chicago, at least. All I wanted for brunch was air conditioning, cold water, and colder mimosas. If I were offered a chance to sit on a patio, I would have declined—yes, that’s how hot it was that day.
My brunching bestie Britt and I decided to head to a small, quiet, and incredibly cute restaurant for brunch: White Oak Tavern & Inn.
White Oak Tavern & Inn is a quaint restaurant in the heart of Lincoln Park. The interior is bright, mellow, and modestly eclectic—lots of framed photos, chandeliers, and mismatched wooden chairs. I had been to White Oak Tavern before, and thought that the food was delicious and that it was a beautiful little restaurant that more people needed to know about!
Britt and I decided to go to brunch on a hot Sunday, and made our way to White Oak Tavern around 1:30 p.m.—a late brunch never hurt anyone!
Britt and I walked into White Oak Tavern and we were asked “inside or outside?”—INSIDE PLEASE!
Thankfully, there was room inside and we were promptly seated at a small, round table in the second part of the restaurant. We were surrounded by floor to ceiling windows—perfect for photographs!
Britt and I chatted up a storm, and casually browsed the menu. Our waiter came over and was polite, prompt, and knowledgeable about the menu. We put in our cocktail order—bottle of champagne and orange juice table side for mimosas—and he asked “are there any dietary issues or allergies I should know about?” Yes sir, I have many! I appreciated how he asked and didn’t have to be prompted by me. Our waiter went off to check on the entrees I should steer clear of, if any, and to retrieve our bottle of bubbles and juice.
Our champagne and juice arrived, and we were able to pour our own drinks, which means a full glass of champagne and a dash of juice—just the way a mimosa should be! For $20, tableside mimosas is not a bad way to start a brunch.
Britt and I placed our orders for our entrees, but we decided to order something sweet to nosh on while we waited. We inquired to our waiter as to whether to choose the coffee cake or the cinnamon roll. By default, we chose the cinnamon roll since the coffee cake had sold out hours ago—I guess the coffee cake is a crowd pleaser!
Regardless, whether by default or not, I recommend the cinnamon roll. The roll was flavorful, soft, warm, and had a perfectly balanced cream cheese frosting.
For an entree, Britt opted for the eggs Benedict with bacon, Hollandaise, and poached eggs atop an English muffin and dressed greens on the side.
She liked her Benedict stating it was flavorful, and the bacon was perfectly cooked. I’m more accustomed to seeing more meat on a Benedict but this seemed to be balanced nicely with the eggs and muffin.
When I was deciding on my entree, I asked our waiter again for advice—he offered such great advice about the cinnamon roll, I wanted to pick his brain some more!
Our waiter recommended the chicken and waffles, and sold me when he said “we put our own twist on the classic dish, and the savory and sweet perfectly compliment each other”—done!
The chicken and waffles were presented on a wooden slab with a small arugula salad, and pimento cheese. The waffles were a classic buttermilk batter—they were fluffy and created a fun chicken and waffle sandwich. It was a beautiful presentation and tasted as good as it looked—moist chicken with a bit of spice from the chili puree. My only wish would have been to change the plate the dish was served on. While the plank of wood looks cool, from a practical standpoint when you have a dish that requires syrup; a plate with edges would have been best.
All in all, our experience at White Oak Tavern was great—we had great food, knowledgeable service, and a mellow ambiance. I just wish that we had had a larger table and perhaps differently presented food, as my chicken and waffles was hard to enjoy on a slab of wood.
The Bitches say: B+. White Oak Tavern & Inn is a charming, and delicious place to brunch if you’re looking for a mellow brunch with family, and friends!
White Oak Tavern & Inn serves brunch Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. (773) 248-0200