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[Photographs: Chelsea Ross]

The theme at The Peasantry is elevated street food, an unusual concept for brunch. The name represents the social class comprised of peasants, who of course were the originators of street food. Aladdin was eating street food long before it was cool. When I think of street food, the first thing that comes to mind isn't pancakes and mimosas. But when I put it in Aladdin terms, I'm sure he would have been happy to enjoy pancakes and mimosas on the street. The brunch fare at The Peasantry features a lot of items that don't scream "street food" at first, but subtly incorporate street food inspiration, like a pancake masquerading as a gyro. But since this is still just a restaurant inspired by street food, and not literally an enclave of bedraggled peasants, silverware and manners are suggested.

The Peasantry has a funky way of serving pancakes. One of the dishes is a corn pancake "gyro" topped with fried chocolate chile chicken ($11). It's either an homage to chicken & waffles or a middle finger to it, I'm not sure which. The similarities between this pancake and a gyro are a stretch, but the presentation does make it look sort of like a giant pita flecked with meat. The pancake is doughy and soft, and though the corn flavor is muted, it lends a nice golden hue and some sweetness. It's roughly the size of a windshield, but you'll pretty much forget about the pan-gyro entirely with one bite of the chicken. It's sole purpose is to serve as a canvas for this magical chicken.

This is basically gourmet popcorn, coated in a chocolate-chile mixture and fried until crispy. The morsels retain all their juicy goodness, sheathed in that sweet-and-spicy seasoning. I could eat a bucket of this chicken. There's a drizzle of maple yogurt and a pile of apple slaw to finish the dish. The yogurt gets lost in the whole thing, but the apples are a nice tart touch.

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One obvious street food-inspired item is The Peasantry's breakfast sandwich ($11). It's one sloppy sandwich, but it fits seamlessly into the concept. Pork belly is the star of the sandwich, rubbed with rosemary and heaped with shaved Brussels sprout slaw. There's a fried egg on top, and the whole thing is served on tender brioche smeared with kimchi aïoli. The pork is thick and succulent, while the shredded sprouts lend a piquant, earthy quality to the sandwich. The best part, though, is the kimchi aïoli, erupting with the sharp, fermented flavor of spiced cabbage. It has the power to punch the hangover right out of you.

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When dining at an elevated street food emporium, a hand pie seems like the way to finish. The blueberry hand pie ($6) comes out looking like a jazzed up toaster strudel, but tasting so much better. The pie crust is flaky and rich, almost like phyllo, laden with tangy lemon-laced blueberry compote. Lemon-ginger icing adorns the plate, though it pretty much tastes like plain ol' powdered sugar frosting. I mean, I'm not complaining. Need I remind you of my frosting obsession?

The street food philosophy at The Peasantry may not translate as overtly at brunch as it does at dinner, but that won't stop me from flocking here for some pancake "gyros" and hand pies. If this is peasant food, give me my tunic and cast me to the streets.

The Peasantry

2723 North Clark Street, Chicago IL 60614 (map)
773-868-4888
thepeasantry.com

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