An unusually cool and cloudy July day kept us more than a little sleepy, and a sore back and shoulder had us moving even more slowly, so we decided to stroll to an old neighborhood haunt of ours, Reservoir.
Setting the Scene
Groggy and overcast, we didn’t ooze into Rezzie until 2 pm, with only one hour to enjoy their usual 10am-3pm brunch offerings. The patio was packed, the interior was about half full, and bar was dimly lit when we walked in, which suited us just fine. We were lucky to find one of our favorite bartenders in this city, Nick, running the show. Hashtag blessed.
There was a quiet buzz of conversations mingling with the low key classic oldies music playing in the background, adding a comfortable ambience to the pub-like atmosphere. The garage door windows were wide open, letting in the sparse light from the cloudy skies. The bar TVs were showing the Cubs game and the bizarre phenomenon that is world series poker.
Amenities and Accessibility
A small sidewalk patio adorns the front of the restaurant and, like the restaurant itself, is accessible without any stairs thanks to a shallow ramp. There are several spacious one-person restrooms towards the back of the restaurant, and several booths and tables, not to mention a beautiful, custom-built wooden bar.
Food and Drink
Brunch is served every Saturday and Sunday from 11am-3pm (10am-3pm for this summer), but the mimosas are only bottomless on Sundays, for $15. Sunday also brings a $5 Bloody Mary, with the option to add a High Life pony on the side for $1.
The food served is your basic brunch fare – eggs, biscuits, pancakes, benedicts, salads, and sandwiches – simple, but done well. A few items even have a little bit of a Gulf flare, like the breakfast po’boy and crab cakes benedict.
Their champagne of choice is, sadly, J. Roget, but the booze to juice ratio was well within our tolerance level.
Jodie ordered braised pork shoulder, with a spicy slaw, white bbq sauce, on a flour-dusted potato bun. The pork was braised overnight in red wine and served with a mayo-based white sauce. A zesty red cabbage slaw topped the pork and a delightful salad tossed with chipotle ranch completed the meal (see Becky’s review for a complete rundown of the majesty of this salad).
The pork was tender and falling apart, but the creaminess of the mayo sauce was too much of a good thing. There was no zest or tang to counter the fatty goodness of the pork, even with the slaw. Perhaps her palate’s expectations of a traditionally tangy BBQ pulled pork affected her judgment, but the overwhelming richness without a counterpoint of flavor or texture was disappointing. The quality of the ingredients was exceptional, and the concept was unique, but it could use some fine-tuning.
Becky ordered the crab cakes benedict: 2 blue crab cakes, topped with poached eggs and creole hollandaise, served on an English muffin. Most brunch items are served with a side of roasted red potatoes, but since the sandwiches are served with fries or side salad, with the option to upgrade to sweet potato fries, dipping’ fries, or Reservoir fries for an extra charge, you can opt for that over the potatoes.
Becky chose to get the hollandaise on the side (she thinks it is a rarely needed accoutrement to a benedict if the egg is cooked correctly), with a side salad and a chipotle ranch dressing. She ate the salad first, in desperate need of some greens and veggies in her life, and was impressed at the quality of the ingredients. It was one of the best “side” salads she has had – it was a large portion, the greens were tender and leafy, and it was topped with carrots, cherry tomatoes, radishes, red onion, and cucumber – yum! The chipotle ranch was a great addition – smoky, spicy, and smooth – an alarm clock for the taste buds.
The crab cakes were almost crab-stuffing like, consisting of the crab, bread crumbs, carrots, green apple (tasty surprise!), and onion seared to a golden brown and crunchy. The eggs were perfectly poached with a solid white and running yolk.
The English muffin was really the only downfall, as previous readers might remember, Becky likes her English muffin extra crispy and toasted, and this muffin was just a little too soft in the middle to stand up to the pillowy textures of the other elements in the dish.
Overall, she was very satisfied – only the hollandaise was left!
Nick: easily one of the best bartenders in the city. He’s friendly, efficient, with a bone-dry sense of humor and razor wit that seems to be the standard with many ex-military folk. Even though we’re not true regulars, we still feel like family when he’s behind the bar.
Chicago sports viewing: this is the place for catching the Cubs, Sox, Bears, and Blackhawks. During the NFL season, multiple games are shown, with the sound on for Bears games.
Target, Aldi, Jewel: adulting before brunch. Get your chores done and feel the warm glow of accomplishment before getting sudsy. It’s like you’re a Real Adult™!
Weekly specials: Rezzie has excellent weekly specials on burgers, wine, and beer, in addition to regular charity events and tastings. Check out their Facebook page for events and specials!
The Reservoir has earned a 7 out of 10. Overall quality of the food is good, but certain items need more troubleshooting to fully round out the flavors and textures. The ingredients deserve more than the one-note treatment they’re getting. J. Roget champagne does knock down the rating as well, even though the service is on point and the pours are generous.
Pro Tips – Optimize Your Experience
- Sit at the bar. Better service and great conversation. Did we mention Nick?
- Get there with a timeline in mind in terms of the pacing of your meal and drinks. While the service is amazing and much love is shown, the bottomless drinks do stop flowing at 3pm on the dot.
- Keep sports game times in mind, as things can get crazy during the NFL season. If you’re going with a group, a reservation would not go amiss.