Wildberry Cafe Brings a Taste of the Burbs to Millennium Park, In a Good Way

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[Photographs: Joe Roy]

Walk through the revolving door and past the Intelligentsia pour over station at Wildberry Cafe, and find yourself at Any-midwest-diner, USA. If you don't look up at the mod, bulbous fixtures or through the window to nearby Millennium Park, the endless rows of four-tops, slightly sticky booths, and bobbing and weaving waitresses will fool you into thinking you're back home for the weekend, sitting down to a hungover Saturday morning breakfast with all the stops pulled out.

The Denver Skillet ($9.25) is balanced as far as skillets go. The red and green peppers are cooked through but still retain a slight crunch, and the eggs are perfectly over easy, as ordered. The plate craves salt, as breakfasts of this type normally do, but the melty blanket of jack cheese diplomatically smooths things over. 

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I'm not above ordering a side of Sausage Gravy ($0.75) when available to dab onto my potatoes, but count this maple syrup spiked version the most unusual I've ever had. A healthy shake of pepper gives this a respectable kick, and while its sweetness is pleasant, I'm not certain I'd consider this a session gravy (I'm pretty certain that's a real thing down South).

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I keep it simple when it comes to flapjacks, and the Buttermilk Pancakes ($6.95, or included as a side with most breakfast entrées) are as classic as can be. The buttermilk adds a noticeable tang, and my short stack was sized right: I never got sick of 'em, even by the end.

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The Corned Beef Benny ($9.50) divided the table. I found the housemade corned beef too finely ground and lacking in flavor, while my wife loved its texture and mild flavor. Same story for the just toasted through English muffin. We both agreed, though, that the eggs were properly poached and that the kitchen faithfully granted our "extra crispy" hash browns request to a T.

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Even with scrambled eggs, chorizo, poblano peppers, chihuahua cheese, avocado, and cilantro stuffed inside, the Breakfast Burrito ($9.50) never feels too heavy. That's a feat worth mentioning, as is the surprisingly spicy charred tomato salsa on the side. Hangover, cured&mdashlwith restraint.
 
Whether you sit down in this or one of their Suburban locations, Wildberry Cafe excels in this sort of fare: skillets, pancakes, omelettes (the baked, browned, fritatta-ish kind, not the delicately balanced, just set and folded French kind), and the like. This is not revelatory food—not by a long shot. But what sets Wildberry apart from countless other quick service diners throughout the city is its unwavering consistency. Proper execution is often an afterthought for the budget breakfast set, but not here. Differing preferences aside, everything I tried tasted exactly like you can tell it is supposed to.
 
Acknowledging that its bleary-eyed patrons may actually care what they're having for breakfast? Look at the burbs teaching the big city something new.

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