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[Photograph: Amber Gibson]

Although our waitress extolled the chicken & biscuit at the top of the menu as Carriage House's signature brunch dish, I made sure to order what looked like a hearty vegetarian option of oyster mushrooms ($12), served over Geechie boy grits, which have a satisfying grittiness, as Matt Kirouac detailed in his Brunch Dish report earlier this year. The mushroom variety may change throughout the year, but oyster mushrooms work so well, with a powerful smokiness from the grill and enough substance that I was guarding the skillet from meat-eating friends.

Grilled chicory, the only leafy green on the entire menu, adds a distinctive bite to break up the gooeyness of grits and creamy egg yolk. Yes, there is a soft egg buried under the pile of mushrooms, almost like an afterthought, but it is more than just your requisite brunch food component. It's the glue that holds this dish together, melding the flavors into an unmistakably Southern brunch option with a modern flair. A touch of Thomasville Tomme cheese is shaved on top, along with a sprinkling of truffle vinaigrette that cuts through the richness.

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Another vegetarian option is the organic yogurt parfait ($8) with housemade peanut granola, mixed berries and vanilla syrup. Even with vanilla yogurt and a little syrup, I didn't find this too sweet, though I still prefer the tangy taste of plain yogurt. I'm curious to see if the fruit selection will shift to fruits like apples, pears, persimmons, and citrus fruits as the seasons change or if they'll stick with berries.

Carriage House

Carriage House

  • Wicker Park

1700 W Division St at Paulina St. Chicago IL 60622 7733849700

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