A few weeks ago, I met up with two of my favorite bloggers, Ashley and Gigi, for a very belated Christmas celebration and catch-up brunch at Freds at Barneys. Due to our crazy schedules, we hadn't had the chance to meet up in nearly two months, so we were definitely long overdue for an afternoon of girly time and good food (well, we're always in need of good food). Gigi has hardcore love for Barneys and has introduced numerous bloggers to Freds over the last year; having previously converted Ashley, they knew it would be the perfect setting for our meetup.
Despite the fact that I used to work in the neighborhood and spent years going to a hairdresser right down the street from Barneys, I had no idea of the existence of the lovely Freds. Perched atop the sixth floor of the stunning Barneys building (it such a gorgeous building inside and out!), the restaurant offers a bird's-eye view of the swanky luxury boutique-lined Oak Street, as well as the lake. In center of the main dining room is a cozy stone fireplace (perfect for a freezing cold afternoon) and the space is flooded with natural light.
While the restaurant is in one of the most stylish and fancy areas of the city, Freds is surprisingly low-key. The space is elegant, but not overbearing, and the servers were all incredibly warm and welcoming. Our little group spent hours in a comfortable booth directly overlooking the intersection of Oak and Rush (perfect for people watching!) indulging in wonderful conversation and food.
The epic Freds' bread basket: blueberry muffins, mini chocolate chip scones, a hearty wheat bread, and a salted focaccia (my favorite!).
Gigi chose the Jumbo Lump Crab Cake served atop creamy coleslaw and lemon mustard aioli.
Ashley had heard that the lineup of artisan Neapolitan-style pizzas were swoon-worthy, so I chose the Prosciutto with Arugula and Parmesan Cheese with thinly sliced parma ham, mozzarella, and arugula. The arugula/prosciutto combination on pizza has become one of my favorites over the last year - the Fred's version definitely did not disappoint!
Ashley also opted to go with one of Freds' Artisan Pizzas, the Emilia Romagna: fresh mozzarella and Parmesan, drizzled with aceto balsamic. Both pizzas had the perfect salty/sweet balance and crisp, crunchy crust. I am officially a Fred's convert!
Of course, we couldn't leave without sampling their amazing desserts, starting with the Mascarpone & Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake with fresh berries and raspberry sauce
Caramelized Apple Tart with cinnamon ice cream
You can try all of this deliciousness and more at Freds at Barneys, 15 East Oak St., Chicago, IL.