The Brunch Dish: Kegs & Eggs at DryHop Brewers
Brewpub and brunch aren't two words that commonly intersect. My archetype of weekend brunch leans more towards the familial, homey, and stroller-laden rather than the boisterous beer haunt, but DryHop Brewers makes a strong case for the latter. This comfortable, crafty addition to East Lakeview could very well be the new quintessential Chicago brunch haven—not terribly crowded, accessible, and comforting to all, with a menu rife with decadent and inventive American brunch fare. It's the brewpub brunch I never knew I desperately needed.
The brunch menu at DryHop Brewers, adorably, is called Kegs & Eggs. I laud them for this title, because I could seriously see myself opening a brewpub purely for the opportunity to name a brunch menu this. Eggs of course are prevalent, as are plenty of DryHop beers, which make a nice supplement to morning coffee if you're feeling randy. Eggs are indeed the finest example of DryHop's talents, deftly personified in a smorgasbord called Hank's Plate ($10), an array of two eggs, three slices of thick Broadbent's hickory-smoked bacon with brown sugar-black pepper glaze, potato casserole, and a duck fat buttermilk biscuit with country sausage gravy. It's like a grown-up Big Breakfast, which I proudly admit to loving in my younger, naiver years, and a perfect sampling of DryHop's wares, all on one heinously convenient plate.
Eggs come any way you like, serving as a blank canvas for everything else on the plate. Crispy shards of bacon incite drool from even the staunchest naysayer (e.g. me, usually), with that habit-forming treacly, peppery glaze and pungent notes of smoke. It tastes like eating a pig roast in the midst of a forest fire, and it's delicious. The potato casserole is really just a pile of tender baby potatoes enrobed in a buttery glaze, and that's really all we need in the world, right? As for the biscuit, it sports a crispier, darker exterior than most biscuits, providing a nice juxtaposition against the soft, doughy innards awash in sausage gravy. Hank, you did good.
Eggs are at their best in DryHop's omelettes. Let me just say that this place has the coolest names for omelettes ever, from the Bikini-clad Extremist filled with smoked thuringer sausage (I feel like there's a saucy double entendre somewhere in here that I'm afraid to think about) to the Angry Toddler stuffed with bacon, apples, and cheddar. A fun riff on a ham and cheese omelette, the Master's Degree in Folklore ($12) combines ham with Munster cheese, arugula, caramelized onions, and butternut squash. Can't say I've ever had butternut squash in an omelette before, but 'tis the season! And it worked wonders, as the tender orange morsels melted into the eggs lending a mild sweetness to the savory medley.
Swinging the pendulum in the other direction, it doesn't get any sweeter than The Captain's French Toast ($9). This thing is a sugar bomb, featuring thick slices of challah dunked in rum-spiked batter, encrusted in Cap'n Crunch cereal, and doused in "liquid cheesecake," blueberries, and bourbon-infused maple syrup. Sounds like something a child would make given free reign of the kitchen, and despite the active fear of rotting your teeth with each bite, it tastes pretty sublime. Yes it's overly saccharine, but you'll hardly notice it once you're buzzed off rum and bourbon. The cereal provides a nice crackly crust, while the bourbon-y maple syrup tempers the sweet flavor of the cream cheese a bit.
Who would have thought that a brewpub could turn out such crafty brunch fare? The option to drink beer in the morning and indulge in such eggy wonders is an opportunity too good to pass by. The best part is you can just drink your guilty feelings away when you're done.