Happy Tuesday! I hope everyone had a fab weekend. Today is the official start of the new semester, which is always equal parts exciting, chaotic, and nerve-racking, even for those of us in front of the classroom (after 13+ years in education, I still get a mean case of the first day jitters!). While I've spent most of the last few weeks focused on prepping for the new semester and completing my own homework (I'm already a week into the first class of my new degree program), I did manage to squeeze in a final few activities during my break, including a trip to the northern 'burbs for a leisurely brunch at a new-ish restaurant with fellow foodie, Meghan.
Situated on the border of Wilmette and Evanston, Firefly Kitchen offers diners seasonal comfort dishes in a lovely Brooklyn-inspired bistro. Open since last summer, the upscale, but still relaxed, neighborhood bistro is the collaborative effort of renowned New York City chef Dean Salerno, formerly of David Burke’s signature restaurant at The James New York, and James Pierce, former head of The Bar at The Peninsula Chicago. Salerno's fond memories of his years living in Brooklyn with wife Mia inspired them to create a cozy space reminiscent of the hip converted brownstones in his favorite borough.
The walls are covered in photos of Brooklyn & Chicago, as well as song lyrics. I especially loved the rows of bare bulbs streaming from the ceiling, meant to evoke the feeling of being surrounded by twinkly fireflies on a warm summer's night.
We kicked off brunch with a round of cocktails (of course!). I went with this tart Passion Fruit Bellini...
...while Meghan chose the perfectly balanced Diamond Jim's Bloody Mary.
For my entrée, I ordered the Crab Cake Benny. I'm sure you've realized by now that I love a good Benny and tend to judge a restaurant's brunch menu by the quality of this dish. I'm happy to say that Firefly's version definitely lived up to my expectations: the outside of the crab cake was crunchy and the inside was light and flakey (and it was all crab/no fillers!). While there was nothing remarkable about the hollandaise, it was smooth, creamy, and nicely complemented the crab cakes. It was a definitely a classic version of the dish done right.
For her entrée, Meghan chose the Breakfast Sandwich: eggs, bacon, tomato, Gruyere, and arugula on brioche toast, served with lyonnaise potatoes. This seemingly simply and surprisingly hearty sandwich was a big hit with the two of us, thanks to the combination of the crispy bacon, thick layer of eggs, and sweet & salty cheese. I also particularly like that they serve this sandwich on brioche, as the buttery bread makes it feel more breakfast-y.
We also split an order of the Breakfast Mac and Cheese with bacon, sausage, and eggs, garnished with tomatoes and onions. Filled with gooey cheese, generous chunks of sausage, and thick, crispy bits bacon, this filling dish was my favorite of the three entrées. While I've had various breakfast versions of mac & cheese before, this was one of the best I've ever tried - rather than just throwing some bacon in the mac & cheese and declaring it breakfast, Salerno created a wonderfully composed dish that encompasses many of the best parts of breakfast favorites.
Finally, we ended our meal with an order of the French Toast Royale with Grand Marnier and fresh fruit. Although we were completely stuffed after our entrées, we simply couldn't resist this boozy French toast... and yes, despite being full, we completely demolished this sweet treat!
We love our drizzly action shots!
I greatly enjoyed my brunch at Firefly and can't wait to head back up there next summer to check out their dinner menu on their lovely 35-seat outdoor patio. You can try all this deliciousness and more at Firefly Kitchen: 111 Green Bay Road, Wilmette, IL (a quick drive up the north shore or an even quicker Metra ride to the Central Street station).
Disclosure: I received a complimentary meal to facilitate this post. Review and all opinions are my own.