You’ve heard of bottle service, but have you ever heard of flower service? Wicker Park’s new restaurant – Machine: Engineered Dining & Drink – is half florist, half restaurant, all fun. It opened in March and has been turning heads for its innovative craft cocktails and flower carts.
Florists wheel around a cart full of beautiful blooms and you can order a bouquet for the table or take some stems home to celebrate spring. Machine invited us in to treat us to brunch, so I went to check it out with my boyfriend Cam, college friend Rakela and her beau Ryan. We were blown away by how thoughtfully the floral theme is incorporated into the craft cocktails and the interior design. Even the bathrooms look like a Pinterest wedding with draping white flowers and sparkling chandeliers.
For cocktails, we got the Firebird and the Caged and Infused. The Firebird is served in a whimsical, bird-shaped flute and is a masterful blend of rose vodka, strawberry puree and lemon agave nectar. If you’re a fan of sweet drinks, you’ll be as happy as a lark with this cocktail.
The Caged and Infused is an interactive drink experience. The cocktail is butterfly flower tea-infused gin, maraschino liqueur, lemongrass, and lemon. It is served under a violet candy cage. Waiters will bring you a small golden hammer to break the cage, which then dissolves in the drink. Multiple Machine cocktails offer the smash-and-sip experience and are denoted with a small hammer on the menu.
Once we finished playing with our cocktails, it was time for the main dish. I opted for the shrimp and grits, my all-time favorite breakfast meal. If a restaurant is serving shrimp and grits, I’m ordering it, so it really means something when I say that Machine’s shrimp and grits are amazing. You get a choice of green chili or Old Bay seasoning to top off the cilantro, parmesan, smoked bacon, 63-degree egg and chicken skin. 63-degree eggs are similar to poached eggs, but less solid, making the dish creamy, but surprisingly light and fluffy at the same time.
My friend ordered the pancakes, which are served with blueberry compote and lemon curd. They are dense, moist cakes that will quickly fill you up. The blueberry and lemon are great compliments of sour and sweet. This dish is as beautiful as it is delicious.
Ryan went with the Machine burger, which is stuffed full of foie gras, comte cheese, maitake mushrooms and pickles. It comes with a side of fries, served with a parmesan aioli. He was a big fan of the thin and juicy patties.
Cam selected the steak sandwich, which is a traditional combination of sirloin, onions, harissa sauce, garlic aioli, and cheddar cheese on a french roll with a side of fries. The garlic aioli added depth of flavor that elevated this meal from simple steak sandwich to Cam’s leading brunch favorite.
The Bitches say: five Champagne flutes. With flowers, fantastic food, and phenomenal cocktails, Machine is coming up roses.
Machine: Engineered Dining & Drink serves brunch Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and weekends from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.