Our brunch at Kanela Breakfast Club set some high expectations, so we knew we had to carefully choose our next place to visit. It goes without saying that we wanted a fantastic meal, but as we were in the midst of an ugly, gloomy, snowy snap, we also wanted somewhere with a homey vibe and good ol' comfort food. In the midst of our search, a fortuitous opportunity to try out the new winter menu at The Southern fell into our hands; as soon as we took a look at the menu, we knew it was perfect place for our next Brunchgasm!
On a blustery Sunday morning, Diana and I headed over to Bucktown for brunch at The Southern, a Southern-inspired spot known for its hearty comfort food and wide selection of small batch bourbons, micro-brews, whiskeys, and specialty cocktails. This is a place that takes the laid-back vibe of Southern life to heart, as they describe themselves as "a central gathering place where the tallest order of the day is a cocktail, conversation and relaxation." Executive Chef Eric Michael began his tenure with The Southern back in the days in which it was a popular fixture in the Chicago food truck scene (serving up some *amazing* mac & cheese). Once they opened the restaurant, Chef Michael worked his way through the kitchen as a line cook and sous chef before being appointed as executive chef.
The restaurant has a very rough-chic vibe with a combination of high tops, low tops, and booths made from reclaimed wood. They also have a gorgeous rooftop patio with views spanning North Ave. (perfect for people-watching!). Unfortunately, it was a bit too cold for a patio session, but based on my quick peek at the outdoor area, I could totally see how it's the perfect place to spend a leisurely Sunday morning sipping cocktails in the warm breeze.
We kicked off our meal with the Cheese Plate: the chef's selection of three artisanal cheeses, fresh fruit, sourdough, and mostarda. While we enjoyed all three of the selections, the goat cheese and blue cheese were most definitely the standouts.
I chose a classic whiskey cocktail, the Mint Julep. The Southern offers a wide array of whiskey choices and as someone who's not generally a whiskey drinker, I had no idea what to choose for my drink. The waitress led me through a few selections and explained how each would affect the level of sweetness (I eventually decided to go with Maker's Mark).
Diana chose one of their specialty cocktails, the Maple Bacon Manhattan: house infused bacon bourbon, maple syrup, sweet vermouth, and North Country smoked bacon. I have to admit that I was slightly jealous of her drink; while I enjoyed my Mint Julep, this Manhattan was really a special drink with its wonderful layers of flavor... and really, can you ever go wrong with a cocktail that includes a delicious piece of bacon?!
Deviled Eggs with Dijon, bacon shallot jam, and preserved jam. These were by far the best deviled eggs I've ever had (again, can you really go wrong with bacon jam?). Even Diana, who's typically not a fan of deviled eggs, loved these savory/sweet/creamy little bites.
For our entrées, we split two of their most popular offerings, the first being the Fried Chicken Benedict: fried chicken thigh, poached egg, buttermilk biscuit, and béarnaise sauce. The Southern is known for their fried chicken, so we had high expectations of this dish - it most definitely did not disappoint! They brine their chicken in a combination of chicken broth and buttermilk before frying; this results in a juicy, tender chicken that pairs perfectly with the rich sauce.
As much as we enjoyed the fried chicken, the Short Rib Hash ended up being the highlight of the meal: braised short rib, sweet potato, smoked wild mushroom, pickled beet, and a sunny side up egg. The short rib was tender and flavorful, and the sweet potatoes & mushrooms added the perfect amount of smokiness and sweetness (I could go on and on about how much I loved those potatoes!).
Although we were stuffed, we couldn't leave without ending on a sweet note. Cornmeal Crepes: brown butter pear, fig, buttermilk ricotta, pistachio, and honey.
You can try all of this deliciousness and more at The Southern, 1840 W. North Ave.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary meal to facilitate this post. Review and all opinions are my own.