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Reviews of brunch dishes.

The Brunch Dish: Filipino Flair at Pecking Order

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[Photographs: Chelsea Ross]

Pecking Order is one of the biggest and best kept brunch secrets in Chicago, and the food is so good I'm half inclined to shut my mouth so as to preserve the weekend meal for myself. But lo, I shall sing the praises of this humble chickenstaurant. Far from the froufrou and/or overcrowded brunch spots elsewhere in the city, Pecking Order succeeds by keeping things simple and supremely satisfying, imbuing brunch staples with a punch of Filipino flair.

The brunch menu at Pecking Order is relatively concise, featuring a few recognizable brunch creations and some dishes with Filipino undertones, a nod to chef/owner Kristine Subido's heritage. And what a tasty nod it is. The Filipino elements woven throughout the menu are what launch Pecking Order's brunch program into the upper echelons of Chicago's brunch stratosphere, with ingredients like pandesal bread, calamansi, coconut jam, and langoniza patties. The latter takes top billing on the "Fat Filipino" burger ($9). I've bemoaned the bastardization of breakfast burgers before, but Pecking Order's rendition is stellar. The egg isn't tossed on top as an afterthought, overshadowed by the burger like a member of Destiny's Child pushed aside by Beyonce. By serving a moderately sized langoniza patty, a mildly spiced sausage somewhat akin to a tempered chorizo, the egg is able to stand tall on its own merits. This is more like an egg sandwich that just happens to be striated with a killer burger patty. It's eggy richness is the perfect yin to the burger's yang, accented with garlic mayo on a pandesal bun, a fluffy yeast roll reminiscent of a slightly less sweet Hawaiian bun.

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For something with a little more diner-style Americana, the chicken and waffles ($9) are a fun riff on a classic. To the untrained eye, they look like your standard chicken and waffles, but unless you grew up smearing your waffles with coconut jam and sriracha butter, think again. One of the most sublime plates of chicken and waffles in town, Pecking Order does not skimp on the decadence. This thing is stacked taller than a Jenga tower, with a base of soft, chewy waffles perfect for sopping up jams and spicy butters, plus a crazy amount of chicken strewn on top. It's a lot of poultry, but good luck trying to restrain yourself considering how perfectly fried and succulent it is.

Brunch at Pecking Order is a pleasant departure from the typical weekend rubric. It toes the line between familiar classics and jazzy Filipino flavors, providing a potent punch to kick start your morning. Or your lazy afternoon.

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