As much as I enjoy exploring other parts of the city and discovering new-to-me-restaurants in neighborhoods previously unknown, I have to say that I always feel an extra tinge of excitement when new establishments open in my own 'hood. I've lived on the north side of the city the entire time I've been here and I've seen some major changes in the dining scene in this area during the last 17 years (I can't believe I've been in Chicago that long!); while the neighborhood has said good-bye to a few long-time favorites, we've also ushered in some fantastic new additions.
One of the newest places to join the scene in Andersonville is one that immediately won the hearts of every neighborhood dweller with an affinity for strong cocktails, comfort food, and retro video games: Replay Andersonville. Already an established to-go bar in Lakeview, the Andersonville outpost of Replay took what everyone already loved and made it even better by offering full lunch and dinner options during the week, as well as breakfast and brunch on the weekend (the Lakeview location does not currently offer food). The gaming gastro pub serves contemporary American cuisine, primarily a modern take on comfort food, and offers diners an extensive bourbon selection, 26 craft beers, and hours worth of fun via free throwback arcade games such as Ms. Pac Man, Dig Dug, Galaga, Double Dragon, Gorf, Mortal Kombat II, and Mario Bros.
I recently stopped by Replay with fellow blogger/brunch expert Jessica to check out their Saturday morning offerings; I kicked off our meal with the bright and tangy Ecto Cooler (how could I pass up such an aptly named cocktail?!): Stoji Oranj, Yellow Chartruese, house orange cordial, lemon, and San Pellegrino orange...
...while Jessica chose the lightly floral and refreshing Bourbon Blossom with Larceny Bourbon, St. Germaine, lemon, simple syrup, and Gosling's Ginger Beer.
As soon as we flipped open the menu, we both immediately zeroed in on the Replay Nachos: three cheese blend, guacamole, tomatillo salsa, pico de gallo, pickled peppers, and grilled chicken. I mean, how can we go to an arcade-themed pub and not order nachos?! Munching on these crispy nachos surrounded by the familiar bleeps! zaps! and boings! took me back to the days in which I used to spend my weekends wheeling around our local arcade meets roller rink (although these nachos were most definitely a giant step up from the stale chips and drippy orange cheese they used to serve!).
For our entrées, we decided to split a few of their most popular brunch picks, starting with the Lobster Benedict. As much as I love a classic benedict, I also greatly appreciate when restaurants put their own signature twists on the dish (as it seems like lobster bennys have become all the rage in Chicago lately). Replay's version includes a toasted pretzel bun in place of the traditional English muffin and a flavorful hollandaise infused with dill and tarragon. Of course, the best part of this dish is the huge buttery chunks of lobster - they definitely do not skimp!
We then moved on to the Fried Chicken and Waffles, topped with a crunchy jicima and cilantro slaw, spicy sriracha aioli, and sweet maple butter. Again, despite this being a mainstay on practically every brunch menu in the city, this dish was anything but boring; in fact, I would say it's currently one of my favorite versions of chicken and waffles I've had in years! The chicken was perfectly crisped on the outside and juicy/tender on the inside, while the waffle was fluffy and chewy. I also greatly enjoyed the heat from the sriracha aioli combined with the sweetness from the maple.
Finally, we ended our tour through their most popular brunch dishes with the Applewood Bacon Waffles, topped with candied pecans, black pepper whipped butter, and black cherry bourbon syrup. I especially liked that the bacon was all throughout the waffle, guaranteeing a bit of the sweet/salty/savory combination in every bite.
Of course, we couldn't leave without a shot of caffeine to combat our carb-heavy brunch. The Kentucky Coffee was definitely the perfect way to end the meal, as the bourbon packed a strong punch and the coffee kept us buzzing for the rest of the afternoon.
You can try all of this deliciousness and more (as well as live the glory days of your video game lovin' youth!) at Replay Andersonville: 5358 N Clark. St., Chicago, IL.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary meal to facilitate this post. Review and all opinions are my own.