I've had the pleasure of dining at The Dearborn (145 N. Dearborn St.; www.thedearborntavern.com ) several timesbut it's always been a weekday outing.
Recently, I met a friend for Sunday brunch. The results were both expected and surprising: The dining experience was pretty cool, but there was a musical additionBrooklyn Britches and the Whispers. (I'll have more on that act later.)
However, the past 18 months have been strange for almost every businessThe Dearborn included. Assistant General Manager Sarah Clark mentioned to Windy City Times that the spot initially closed in mid-March 2020 and reopened in late June; then, it re-shuttered in mid-November and opened again March 10, 2021.
Nevertheless, by all appearances, sisters and co-proprietors Amy and Clodagh Lawless (the former a member of the LGBTQ+ community) have things flowing seamlessly. I've now gone to The Dearborn twice since the March reopening, and the spot has been bustling.
Now let's get back to Brooklyn Britches and the Whispers. Composed of Britchesa singer as well as a veteran of the burlesque/performance sceneas well as Martin Stonikas (upright bass) and Charles Williams (classic acoustic guitar), the band provides smooth, smoky versions of a wide variety of songs and genres (jazz, '60s soul and much more). When we attended, the act provided engaging renditions of songs such as Erykah Badu's "On and On" and The Spinners' "I'll Be Around," among many others.
And then there's the food itself. There were far more hits than misses, of course. The stumbles first: The shrimp and grits (composed of cheddar and fresh corn grits, Gulf shrimp and creole butter) was a little salty, but still tasty. And when my friend ordered the drink Hot Girl Summer, she was told it wasn't available because it's being retooled.
However, these are quibbles. Aside from what I had at Punch Bowl Social a little while back, The Dearborn's cinnamon-roll monkey breadcinnamon roll dough in pull-apart monkey bread form, glazed and topped with confectioners sugar and Chantilly creamis the best of its kind I've ever sampled. (However, you can go wrong with the beignets, either.)
The Midwest fried chicken is a must-try (even if you get the housemade hot sauce on the side) and the brunch pizza (with asparagus, goat cheese, prosciutto, grilled scallions, poached egg and truffle oil) is a very solid performer, as they say. However, the king of the mountain is still the spot's fish and chipspossibly the best you'll get on this side of the pond. There's a reason Executive Chef Aaron Cuschieri's dish actually bested a world-renowned chef on the Food Network show Beat Bobby Flay.
Some of the other brunch selections include seasonal vegetable quiche, Dutch apple pancakes, chorizo and poblano hash, the Dearborn burger (with cheddar, special sauce, dill pickles and Bibb lettuce, on a brioche bun) and the All-American Breakfast (two eggs your way, bacon or sausage, toasted miche and Dearborn "Cajun" potatoes).
As for the drinks, there are plenty of other compelling items to make up for the lack of one. (By the way, my dining companion loved the non-alcoholic substitute she ordered.) What sound particularly intriguing are the Smokey Van Gogh (composed of mezcal, ginger beer and lime with a tajin rim) and the Ceiling Breaker (gin, creme de pamplemousse, luxardo marischino, lemon and Peychaud's bitters).
Many people I know already frequent The Dearborn. If you haven't yet gone, I urge you to try the spotand, with Brooklyn Britches and the Whispers (a band that's actually been performing there for three years), there's yet another reason to check out this restaurant.
Note: This visit was arranged.