Since moving to Chicago, I have compiled a pretty nice list of things that I want to experience while living here. They include riding on someone’s personal boat, attending a very ritzy gala, going to a traditional blues club, eating like a queen by the river, just to name a few. Well, this past Saturday, I was able to check one of those fanciful items off of my list.
My friend and I made our way to River Roast, the contemporary American tavern known for their tableside carved roasts, inventive cocktails, and impressive city views. We picked the perfect day to dine! The weather was beautiful for brunch on the Chicago River. We arrived just in time to grab a seat outdoors on their patio.
With the other half of the Riverwalk now completed, seeing the buildings, activity, and atmosphere between La Salle and Clark St. was amazing and a great start to the next couple of hours that lie ahead. After taking in the views our waiter Evan quickly came around to start us off with drinks and dish suggestions. My guest kept it light with a cup of coffee, I, however, haven’t been to brunch in a while where alcohol was involved, so I went straight for the libations. I commenced with my first cocktail, Summer in Milan, a wine based drink. It was an obvious choice, especially with the fantastic atmosphere. If the Chicago River weren’t so dirty, I would’ve almost thought that I was in dining al fresco in Italy, eh, alas, not quite but it would suffice.
After our drinks came, we were ready to dig into the menu for our main course. Our server suggested we extend our dining experience by kicking things off with some starters. We obliged and went with the very popular Golden Gobbets. Created by the executive chef, these deliciously fried chicken bites are perfectly seasoned with over 13 spices and come paired with a side of golden honey. They were everything! It was an excellent combination of sweet and spice, we probably would’ve gone through another basket, that’s just how delectable they were. Just as we were wiping the honey from the corner of our mouths, we were treated to another dish, the Burrata. This dish was a refreshing combination of soft-Italian cheese with plump heirloom tomatoes and lightly drizzled with balsamic.
Although hearty, none of the appetizers had us weighted down. We were both more than ready for our main courses. The menu has an incredible array of dishes to choose from. We opted to get the best of both worlds for this brunch, something sweet and something savory. For the sweet, we decided on the cast iron Baked French Toast and for the savory, Low Country Croque Madam. As we waited for our main course, we took in the scenery and the live band that was playing. Soulful sounds from Darren Jay and the Delta Souls was the perfect soundtrack to this serene Saturday.
A little before our first appetizer came out we met one of the founders of the restaurant executive Chef John “Johnny” Hogan. As someone who works in the industry and takes pride in customer service, nothing stands out to me more than meeting the owner of an establishment or the head chef. It really shows how invested they are in their business and how much they enjoy interacting and receiving real-time reactions from their guests. That speaks volumes to me. Chef Johnny came over and talked to myself and my friend about the concept of River Roast and how compelled he and his partner were to create an atmosphere that was more about connecting, and less about interacting with things like a cell phone that can distract one from experiencing real conversations over a fantastic meal. After this thoughtful dialogue, I was personally even more excited about our main courses.
The Baked French toast was definitely the favorite. The bread was thick and could be easily sliced with just a fork alone, mounted with fresh blueberries, lemon angliase and a dash of powdered sugar. The french toast, with all of its layers of fruit and cremé, was sweet but not too sweet. The syrup that came with it was really unnecessary. Neither one of us really used it. The toast and its toppings were satisfactory all on their own. The Low Country Croque Madame was a southern twist to the Croque sandwich. Laid out on a sourdough bread the open-faced sandwich was dressed in ham, dijon mustard, swiss, overflowing with gravy and topped with an over-easy egg. It was delicious. The dish was a unique taste of flavors ranging everywhere from sharp to tangy. The bread was very thick which was great for soaking up any leftover sauce, which we both kept dousing on our plates.
Before brunch ended, I was able to indulge in one more beverage. I was treated to something pretty different, the Laverne & Sherry. The Laverne & Sherry is one of the newest cocktails to hit the menu and is made up of gin, sherry, chartreuse, chamomile, pineapple, lemon, and egg white. Okay, so I have NEVER had an egg in my drink before. There’s just something kind of odd about drinking protein in that form, right? I was pleasantly surprised and would certainly order this vibrant cocktail again. It was my favorite out of the two brunch libations that I tried.
As we wrapped up our brunch on the Chicago River, we were given a lovely reminder of our time spent dining at River Roast. A complimentary parting gift that symbolizes prosperity, a wishbone was given to us as we wrapped our meal. Definitely more memorable and impactful than a complimentary breath mint could ever be.
My entire experience at River Roast was fantastic! I really enjoyed the ambiance, staff, food, and final parting gift. If you want to take significant other somewhere special or show off your city to out-of-town guests, this is definitely a worthy option. Make some reservations and experience this incredibly inviting restaurant for yourself. This spot is #ratedhaute!
This spot is definitely #ratedhaute!