Back for Seconds

Brunch, to me, is truly the most special form of weekend celebration. And like the best weekends, I prefer my brunches to be slow, luxurious, a little adventurous and for no special occasion.

When we decided to make the trek to Logan Square, I already knew what to expect. Lula Cafe stands like a beacon on an otherwise bleak square filled with tattooed parents and bespectacled twenty somethings that look like they've fallen out of a Ting Tings video. The atmosphere around here is shamefully honest and urban, yet the feeling is surprisingly homey. The real draw for most of these hipsters is the food, and while Lula is not new, it is a pioneer in some locavore circles (they pull much of their fresher than fresh produce from Chicago's charitable City Farm).

I've been to Lula Cafe before, and had possibly the most satisfying cafe food in the city. The menu pulls from all ends of the globe to create a fantastic fusion of tastes that are perfectly pitched without overwhelming the fresh local ingredients. I could have stopped with the perfectly grilled piece of Gunthrop Farms chicken breast, so tender and juicy. But then I nearly forgot it was a side- we added it to their Pasta Yia Yia, which, in a word, is comfort. Bucatini mixes with succulent browned butter sauce, garlic, feta cheese- and the kicker- Moroccan cinnamon. It's insanely addicting. So much so I nearly forgot I had my own dish to work on.

To accompany a bright blackberry Bellini, I selected the Tineka Sandwich, a vegetarian option on toasted multigrain bread. Like a club sandwich given an international passport, spicy peanut sauce, sambal and Indonesian sweet soy sauce mingled with a crisp collection of cucumber, red onions, sprouts and tomato.

But all this is simply meant to demonstrate how high my expectations were for the return to Lula for Sunday brunch. While the homemade sausage and organic sides followed the standard menu expectations, I was all about the specials. How better to find fresher than fresh, and with each weekend's update, I was sure to find something memorable.

While my other half ordered a savory slow roasted pork taco skillet nestled with tender scrambled eggs, pickled red onions, beans and crema in a saucy, cumin spiked gravy and corn tortillas to collect it all, I was all about tradition.

While the dining room showed a decided bent toward French Toast over pancakes, I couldn't resist. I'm not a pancake girl when we order brunch out, but the breakfast gods were smiling on me that day when my Oatmeal pancakes (not pictured here but similar in look) arrived, silver dollars overlapping like browned scales on a sea of perfectly thickened almond anglaise. Strewn across the pancakes was stewed rhubarb, which makes so much sense I cannot believe it's taken me this long to find it on a pancake. The sweet-tart rhubarb was the perfect bite against a smooth and silky almond creme. As for the pancakes themselves, the oats and streusel seems to blend to make a tender cake, chewy but largely moist. Sigh, I didn't even want to share.

Clearly, I'm not the only one who agrees this is a front runner for top brunch in the city. I'm not really sure why it took us so long to add this to our brunch rotation, and I promised myself after running my finger around the rim of my anglaise-covered plate, I wouldn't wait so long before I returned again.

Lula Cafe is located 2537 North Kedzie Blvd. Chicago, IL 773-489-9554

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