The Expected and Unexpected at Pulp Kitchen in Oak Brook Terrace, IL
For the most part, I can take or leave breakfast—that is, until something interesting comes my way. Offering the classics alongside more inventive morning eats, Pulp Kitchen hits a sweet spot. It's a cheery, modern place—kitchy, in fact, with its egg-centric art and orange sofa seating. Quiet on weekday mornings and chaotic on weekends, it does suffer from uneven service either way. Nonetheless, Pulp has endearing qualities, starting with its penchant for the unexpected.
Leading that list are the banana and ancho crepes ($11.95). Filled with griddled ham and crispy nubs of bacon, they result in a strangely satisfying kick-start, albeit one that's best shared between two or more. Other sweet and savory crepes are on hand as well, along with unfortunately named "funky frittatas"; innovative omelets jammed with the likes of prosciutto, red pepper, onion, cherry tomato, and fresh mozzarella; and typical and atypical Benedicts, pancakes, and French toast. A lineup of paninis and burgers are also thrown into the mix.
The hefty Croque Madame ($10.95) arrives with eggy, griddled bread that's swiped with coarse, spicy mustard and stacked with layers of gooey Gruyère and pan-fried ham. Capped off with a yolky fried egg and served alongside a skewer of fresh fruit, it's a sight to behold. Had the chocolate-covered bacon ($6.95) we ordered come to fruition, that may have set things over the edge. Unfortunately, it never showed up.
Proving Pulp can please all ages, Mickey Mouse pancakes ($4.95) appear with a fresh-fruit face, shower of powdered sugar and browned breakfast links. Too bad it took half of the meal to get some butter to go with.
But bumps in the road are nearly forgiven thanks to candy-sweet, fresh-squeezed strawberry-pomegranate juice ($4.95). Sure it's on the pricey side, but some things are worth the cost of admission. This is one of those things.
About the author: Jennifer Olvera is a veteran food and travel writer and author of "Food Lovers' Guide to Chicago." Follow her on Twitter @olverajennifer.