The Brunch Dish: The Bristol

The Brunch Dish

Reviews of brunch dishes.


[Photograph: Chelsea Ross]

Those acquainted with The Bristol are privy to chef Chris Pandelʼs flesh-centric stylings, and while the chef famously serves up some of the cityʼs most intriguingly meaty fare at dinner, some of the best dishes on the weekend brunch menu are just as hearty. Interspersed with a few sweet dishes, such as cinnamon-vanilla French toast and whole wheat pancakes dolloped with ricotta mousse, brunch is a showcase for eye-opening foods of a savory persuasion.

You need not get hammered the night before to enjoy the hangover breakfast ($13), an invigorating bowlful of housemade noodles, greens, herbs, and enough meat to ward off any malady. Set awash in a spicy pork broth, the noodles (made with durum wheat, egg yolk, and water to attain a super toothsome chew) are reinforced with silver dollar-sized shrimp cakes as luscious as brandade, and slivers of beef tongue so tender theyʼll melt in your mouth, leading to some serious tongue-on-tongue action.


Puncture the poached egg nestled on top and the yolk enriches the savory medley even further. Itʼs all accented with a cluster of fermented mustard greens for a refreshingly acidic punch, along with fresh basil, fresh cilantro, and sesame leaves. Like the most soul-soothing pho on Argyle St., Pandel nails the combination of meat, broth, greens, and noodles, and the result is hangover-damningly delicious.


Chilaquiles are one of those dishes I never really crave, probably due to some weird aversion I have to most chips (brought on by an excessive instance with Tostitos when I was younger that caused my lips to chap and bleed). But when chilaquiles are made well, and I am presented with a plateful, I question why I do not eat this for every meal, every day. Such is the case with the braised pork chilaquiles ($12) at The Bristol. A heaping mound of baked chips is saturated in a smoky chile sauce and layered with braised pork shoulder and a few slabs of braised pork belly. The chips are cooked just to the point of being fork-tender without becoming mushy, making it all too easy to shovel large amounts into your mouth at a time. An ample dosage of queso fresco, chopped raw onions, and cilantro freshen things up, and the whole thing is adorned with a sunny-side up egg, which when pierced, escalates the whole thing in the very best pasta carbonara-like way.


After all that meatiness, you need something sweet, and youʼd be remiss not to partake in some of pastry chef Amanda Rockmanʼs breakfast pastries. The Texas-sized cinnamon roll ($6) is a wink to the Texas nativeʼs roots, and the hefty pastry lives up to its name, easily usurping the width of a plate. For something so large, Rockman manages to keep the rolls soft and fluffy throughout, from the outer edges to the pillowy center. Itʼs flecked with sticky bits of caramelized sugar and finished with a mound of cream cheese frosting so irresistible that just when you think youʼre full, youʼll be spooning any frosting remnants directly into your mouth.

The Bristol

2152 North Damen Avenue, Chicago, IL 60647 (map)