Bleeding Heart Bakery & Cafe (Barry Brecheisen/RedEye )
Bleeding Heart Bakery & Cafe
1916 W. Chicago Ave. 773-904-1414
Rating: !! (out of 4) Give it some time
The best damn brunch I’ve ever had. That’s what the new West Town location of Bleeding Heart promised me, by way of a statement printed on the bottom of its massive menu detailing more than 30 different dishes. That’s pretty ballsy.
Not that you should expect any less from Michelle and Vinny Garcia, the self-proclaimed punk-rock pastry chef couple behind local bakery Bleeding Heart. But teamed up with the owners of Wicker Park sports bar The Fifty/50 and next-door neighbor Roots Handmade Pizza to open this flagship location, could they pull off the best brunch in town? I settled into one of the retro-licious vinyl chairs for an early taste.
Late night, anyone?
Bleeding Heart’s cafe service goes 24-hour diner-style on the weekends, opening at 7 a.m. on Friday and serving straight until 4 p.m. on Sunday. Hibiscus pancakes or a bagel dressed with house-cured salmon and heirloom tomato are a serious upgrade from the usual bleary-eyed taqueria stop.
The biggest disappointment…
...was the deep-fried doughnut sandwich ($9). I’ve been lusting after this thing since I spotted it on the menu released a few days before opening. But the tempura-fried vanilla bean doughnut was just doughy and bland, and I could hardly taste the bacon, white cheddar and fried egg under all that doughiness.
Three cheers for vegan options.
It’s cool to see so many animal-free options—from peanut butter doughnuts to s’mores pancakes—clearly noted on the menu. Those s’mores ($9) are like a fudgy dark-chocolate brownie in flapjack form, crowned with toasted marshmallows and crumbled graham crackers. Decadent to the max.
It’s hit or miss…
...in the waffle department. The lemon verbena waffle ($10) had a fresh and zingy flavor, but they lost me on the southern fried chicken and waffle ($15). Though the chicken earns brownie points for being organic and boneless, it was cocooned in the blah-est breading imaginable.
The sweet stuff rules -- not a huge surprise for a business built on its baking -- but the salty dishes we tried left something to be desired. But with three menu pages of dishes left untried, there’s no doubt I’ll be back for more.