Brunch, a time honored tradition and now weekly food adventure has recently seen its popularity soar to new heights over the past few years. I certainly can’t remember brunching with friends growing up and even when I came back for the summers during college there was no brunch scene. The past two years have revealed brunch to be one of my favorite meals and a popular weekly reason to meet up with friends and try new food.
NoMI Kitchen, located on the 7th floor of the Park Hyatt by Water Tower is my choice as the 2011 Brunch of the Year. Good brunches usually demand long lines and crowded venues but you won’t find any on your way up to NoMI. Head into the Park Hyatt and NoMI Kitchen has its very own elevator up to the 7th floor. The hostesses will gladly take your coat and there is some seating if you have to wait for some late company (@leyla_a).
Once Leyla arrived, the game was on! We were lead through the restaurant – passing by tables of people, seats by the bar, and were given a spectacular window view of the Mag Mile. Leyla proudly informed me that for the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival people reserve a spot so they can watch the parade all day. The view was great, the leather seats comfy, and the food was for the taking!
After running through various buffet lines I came back with some crab claw, jumbo shrimp, crisp bacon, fresh maki rolls, some yams, and of course scrambled eggs. There were some nice chopsticks and I was glad to dive through brunch eating everything with my chopsticks, even the scrambled eggs. The bacon was crisp and extra thick while scrambled eggs were fluffy with veggies in them. Sushi was fresh but could have used a bit of ginger or some soy sauce which I didn’t see lying around anywhere.
After we jackaled our first brunch plate, we decided to wait for our entree before entering the deep waters. For my main entree I had an order of slow poached scrambled eggs with harissa and rock shrimp. Harissa is not very spicy and tastes a bit like Valentino hot sauce however the eggs were extremely fluffy and there were large chunks of rock shrimp everywhere. After this was devoured I grabbed some mussels, tried more shrimp, and had seconds of most of breakfast. If you wanted I believe there was cereal and oatmeal but who really goes to fancy brunch to have that stuff?
NoMI Kitchen is spacious enough where you won’t be cramped or accidentally eavesdrop into some awkward conversation. The coffee served up woke me up and the service was pretty good except for the girl who gave us a wine list instead of a brunch cocktail menu. Leyla ordered a bellini with pureed peaches or something fancy and it was tasty.
If you’re a fan of dessert, you’ll go gaga over NoMI’s outstanding dazzling array of sweets, pastries, cakes, and chocolate. Walking through NoMI’s buffets, it’s like being at home with much better food and there’s plenty of space and no one to bump into. The mousse with butterscotch was a smash hit as well as chocolates with gold flakes on them. You really could spend an entire afternoon munching on dessert alone.
Reflecting on all of the great brunches I’ve had all across the city in 2011, and even with a month to go – I declare NoMI Kitchen to be the 2011 Brunch of the Year. There’s really no contest and I don’t think any place is going to be able to trump the venue, service, or quality of NoMi Kitchen. If you’re really into brunch you’ve really got to make your reservation and lounge out a few hours at Chicago’s best brunch.