Sunday, January 27, 2013
Wild About Wildfire
How far will I travel for a gluten-free brunch? About 50 miles, apparently. Each way. In an ice storm. And you know what? Worth every mile.
I found out a few weeks ago about a brunch fundraiser for the University of Chicago at Wildfire in Lincolnshire, and I made reservations immediately. Granted, heading up to the north 'burbs on a Sunday morning normally wouldn't be my bag, but dang it, I miss brunch. And since my love of U of C runs deep and unyielding, I couldn't pass it up. Plus, on top of getting to raise money for one of my favorite causes and eating a boatload of GF yummies, it also included a chef demo, and watching people cook is totally my porn, so bam, a morning full of win was on the docket.
Luke and I had visited the Chicago location in December after my trip to U of C, and while I thoroughly enjoyed the spinach artichoke dip, I wasn't as impressed with the place as I'd expected to be. After all, Wildfire is supposed to be the pinnacle of GF dining in the Chi-town area. I'm going to go ahead and blame my previous opinion on the fact that I had just lost a few pints (it seemed like) of blood, because our trip today was phenomenal.
I knew it was going to be a good morning when we were waiting in the bar area for our dining room to be set up. I overheard a couple talking to the bartender, trying to get the run-down on if the Bloody Mary mix they served was gluten free. I was among my people. The dining room we had was smallish, and far from the bathroom (usually the kiss of death for us celiacs, ha), and we had assigned seating. Which was great, because while many of the folks there knew each other from previous events, Luke and I were total newbies. Our table mates were great (hey Table Six-ers!) and we had a good time chatting, until the food came. Then all bets were off, 'cause we were diggin' in.
It was a four-course brunch with a pre-set menu. I love going to events that have this style of dining, because it allows me to try things I might not order otherwise. Like, I'm pretty much a sweet tooth in every sense of the word, so I typically go for waffles, pancakes, something almost desserty for breakfast. Even though I eat eggs all the time at home, I almost NEVER order them out. Strange, right? The menu today had a nice mix of sweet and savory.
Course numero uno was a chocolate chip coffee cake with a cinnamon crumble. While I think it was more like a bread than a coffee cake, it was really tasty. Not too sweet, and just dense enough so that it didn't fall apart. Full disclosure: The picture at the top is Luke's cake, because I inhaled mine before taking out my camera. Yup, I had the whole thing eaten before he touched his. Don't judge me. The second course was juniper pancakes with a rosemary-infused maple syrup. We both really liked these, but wished there would have been a little more syrup (okay, and several more pancakes ... but we're little piggies). Third course was a flatbread with some sort of arugula salad and smoked salmon. I enjoyed this course, Luke not so much, but he's not really a fan of smoked salmon. It was a little messy to eat, but great flavors.
The highlight for both of us, though, was the last course, which was eggs Florentine Benedict. I was skeptical going in about this one, since it was so far on the side of savory. I mean seriously, spinach? For breakfast? Pop-eye the sailor I am not. But this dish was soooo amazing. It was a poached egg in a hollandaise sauce (that we got to watch Chef Humberto prepare), on top of a spinach and egg mixture in a little bread cup. It was served with maple-glazed bacon, and we are already trying to figure out how to re-create this at home. Soooooo good.
We left full and happy, and completely un-glutened, which is pretty much as good as it gets in my book (although, the decision to have several cups of coffee, plus juice and water, was maybe not the best idea for the hour plus ride home. Oops).
Miss brunch this morning? All of the Wildfire locations have GF brunch options for the weekend. I know we'll be going back (albeit to a closer location) in the near future to try out some of the other items.