Will and I love to cook a special weekend breakfast at home, but we also love to have special weekend brunches out! We’re very brunch-y people, you might say. One reason why we enjoy going out for brunches has to do with the fact that being at a restaurant allows us to order one savory plate and one sweet item and share both. (Not so easy to do at home or with lunches and dinners, at least not for entrées…)
Skokie—a suburb close to Chicago for those not familiar with the area—has a new breakfast and lunch place (hence the name of the restaurant) which rivals some of our favorite brunch places. Keep in mind that we are familiar with and are long-time patrons at some of Chicago’s finest brunch places: Lula, M. Henry (and M. Henrietta), Sola, Yolk, Over Easy, Bongo Room, Big Jones, Ann Sather, Walker Brothers, Tre Kronor, Milk and Honey Café, etc. I hope this brief list gives us some “street creds” and lends us an air of subject-matter expertise.
So, Alexander’s (on 5025 Oakton St in Skokie) had plenty of competition when it came to what they needed to measure up to. It met most of these challenges—we are so thankful to say—and we are happy to announce that it’s our new to-go brunch place.
Is Alexander’s better than M. Henry or Lula? No, probably not. (Though it definitely seems to channel M. Henry.) But it’s much easier to 1) get to and 2) park and 3) get a table at on a weekend at 9:45am. It gets full on a weekend by 10:00am, but that’s much easier to handle than getting to M. Henry at 8:30am only to discover that it’s an hour long wait.
Another point in its favor is that it’s cheaper than some of these other places. We had 3 straight weekends of brunches at Alexander’s, so we thought we’d better go back to one of our old stand-bys. We were slightly dismayed when the same order (one savory, one sweet, and two cups of coffee) at Big Jones amounted to $37.35 (with tip). The same amount of food at Alexander’s for the previous three weekends came to $25 (again, with tip). We like Big Jones and their complimentary beignets—and the fact that its New Orleans influences make it a bit different from some of the others listed above—but we don’t need to pay 50% more for the privilege.
Yet one more point that I need to mention is the institution that Alexander’s replaced. For decades, the very popular (and cheap) “Pat’s Place” was in the space now occupied by our new favorite brunch place. Some Yelp reviewers are upset, it seems, that Alexander’s is not Pat’s (in terms of prices, mostly). Let me just say that perhaps more people are ecstatic that it’s not Pat’s.
Alexander’s serves a decent cup of coffee—perhaps not as good as what we enjoy at M. Henry or Big Jones, but good solid diner coffee. But it’s really the food that makes it special. They offer a variety of sweets: Lemon Meringue French Toast with Strawberry Coulis (pictured at top) and Peach and Sour Cherry Pancakes with Granola topping (pictured below) are just two examples.
Equally yummy are the savory offerings. I first fell in love with the Chile Relleno with Chicken Chorizo and Scrambled Eggs, rice, and sautéed plantains (served with warm corn tortillas). I was pleasantly surprised by the “kicky” sauce, and I enjoyed the combination of flavors.
Will has tried both “skillets” and gives thumbs up for both. The pictured skillet here has lightly charred skirt steak slices, creamy and crusty-fried polenta, two perfectly cooked-to-order eggs (we asked for “over medium”), roasted potatoes, slathered with gorgonzola and topped with fresh pico de gallo.
We are working our way through the entire breakfast menu, and then will hit the lunches. I’ve already had Mahi Fish tacos with a side order of Portuguese soup. More to come!