It was Sunday morning in downtown Chicago and, after a fun weekend visiting friends, we were due at the airport in the early afternoon. Eager for some eggs before our departure, we looked within our hotel’s two-block radius for a quick fix.
Across the street, a fancy hotel brunch beckoned. But we were in jeans and t-shirts, not really pinky-out-brunch material that morning. We grabbed the newspaper and ventured across the street anyway, intimidated by the shiny corporate office building.
The gold elevator doors opened to the beautiful scent of a fabulous hotel. Down the hallway, Travelle beckoned, with its wall of wines, its shiny copper bar, and its rows of plush banquettes. Chicago was gloomy outside, but in here, everything was cream and gold.
We were seated next to the window, with a full view of the fishbowl kitchen. The brunch has two options: a buffet-style heaven, or a la carte. We chose to settle in with the menu, and proceeded to watch the good-looking chef scurry about behind the glass.
The bread basket was extreme, and completed perfectly by a gorgeous little tray of jams. The selection of pastries is vast, so we asked our server to bring us the best. The croissant was fat, warm and flakey. The chocolate variety was filled with rich dark chocolate. Those two were so filling, we didn’t even get to the cheese scone.
The brunch menu has brunch favorites, flatbreads, sandwiches, salads, and a selection of entrees. The typeface is small, and the menu seems scaled back at first blush, but read closer and you realize that every dish is thoughtfully designed. Where else do you see orecchiette bolognese next to the daily grilled cheese on a brunch menu? It is simplicity meets the extravagant.
The steak and eggs was the picture-perfect version of the dish. A tall cylinder of filet mignon set next to a perfectly fried egg, potatoes, and a grilled tomato. The steak was the right size for brunch, and cooked to perfection. The entire dish melded nicely.
The frittata came with an elegance that matched its surroundings; a light disc of moist eggs, piled high with roasted tomatoes, baby arugula and Manchego. It was a great combo, and paired well with the chicken apple sausage, one of the many delicious-sounding sides on the brunch menu.
The buffet offers hot dishes and more—fresh shrimp on ice, a huge selection of pastries, meats and cheeses. We perused it as we left the restaurant, but we were satisfied with our menu choices. In fact, most patrons seemed to order from the menu.
Travelle’s service is incredible. It’s the type of service where you don’t even realize how quickly you are whisked away and taken care of. The dishes arrive silently, the servers are discrete and don’t pester, your table is always perfectly set and tidy, your glass is always full. It’s magical.
Before we left, our pleasant server let us know that Travelle hosts a number of fancy brunches throughout the year. The restaurant is the perfect place for a Mother’s Day brunch or another special occasion—and Travelle pulls out all the stops.
The Bitches say: A. Fancy brunch perfection, pinky out!
Travelle Kitchen & Bar
330 N Wabash Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611
Travelle opens for breakfast and brunch at 7 a.m. on weekends.