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[Photographs: Chelsea Ross]

They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but this probably doesn't apply to croissant French toast or key lime pancakes. If breakfast is wholesome and nourishing, brunch is its rebellious sibling sneaking out at night and swearing at its parents. Toeing the line between the two is Doc B's Fresh Kitchen, a Gold Coast newcomer that offers all the hearty pleasures of weekend brunch without the belt-buckling guilt and lethargic after effects. Per the Doc B's website, the mantra for the restaurant sounds like a preachy lesson from a Berenstain Bears episode, reminding people to put others first and treat friends like family, etc. Not sure what this has to do with anything, but I am sure that Doc B's is a first-class destination for a weekend meal.

No matter what you order at Doc B's—even if it's everything on the menu—you'll likely leave feeling good about yourself. The virtuous menu lends a halo effect to everything you eat. Egg sandwiches are as light and airy as meringues, delicate and ethereal, albeit hearty and satisfying. It makes you wonder why anyone would ever bother eating anything prefaced with "Mc." Served on the softest, most Tempur-Pedic-like English muffins I have ever tasted, sandwiches range from the Borderline ($7) (a zesty Southwestern-style medley of Monterey Jack, pickled jalapeƱo, avocado, and salsa fresca) to the Everyday ($7) (an enriching stack of cheddar, spinach, roasted tomatoes, and "secret sauce).

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The most indulgent thing on the brunch menu is the pizza. Laden with cheese, eggs, potatoes, and other breakfast-y accoutrements, these pies have the potential to be gut bombs, but the kitchen (which looks like a pristine Thomas Keller operation, by the way) practices blessed restraint. The aptly named breakfast pizza ($12) is a prime example, baked at 700-degrees with a merciful smattering of mozzarella, fontina, whisper-thin potato slivers, and breakfast sausage from Publican Quality Meats. Not at all greasy, the pizza gets most of its girth from the soft, bread-y crust, while the toppings are strewn about with enough moderation to lend ample texture and flavor without being too cloying.

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Veering off in a sweet direction, Doc B's does a masterful job with standard breakfast carbs. Waffles and pancakes sound richer than they are, prepared instead with a light hand that results in a wholesome rendition of breakfast essentials. The homestyle waffle ($7) is pretty bare-bones, but it's cooked perfectly, rife with crisp nooks and crannies just begging to be drowned in maple syrup. It offers a pleasant wheat-y flavor, which makes consuming the entire waffle feel like the righteous thing to do. The parfait pan-cake ($10) is less like an actual pancake and more like a fluffy layer of angel food cake, so soft and smooth that it practically floats into your mouth. It's topped off with Greek yogurt, berry preserves, and granola.

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At meal's end, I felt like I had just completed a very delicious yoga session (probably due in part to the "Liquid Lipo" juice blend I consumed for "dessert"). Doc B's isn't trying to be the health nut SoCal type, nor is it trying to chisel your lifespan with frosting-slathered breakfast cakes. Rather, this is the rare place that dwells in the middle ground between healthy and decadent, successfully executing a combo of the two. And we all win.

Doc B's Fresh Kitchen

Doc B's Fresh Kitchen

  • Gold Coast

100 E Walton St at N Michigan Ave Chicago IL 60611 3126261300

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