Cindy's ( 12 S. Michigan Ave.; CindysRooftop.com ), situated at the top of the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, has been one of the most buzzed-about restaurants in recent months, with food critics discussing the restaurant's views, clientele, food and even noise level.
However, a recent Sunday visit for brunch proved to be quite less noisyalmost tranquil ( quite a pleasant surprise ). Of course, there were a few people lined up for the elevator. ( A photogenic gentleman made sure those with reservations where ushered into the lift, while walk-ins had to wait for a ridewith a velvet rope separating the groups. )
My dining partner astutely pointed out reasons for the relative quiet at Cindy's, including the fact that people check out of the hotel on Sundays and that the foot traffic ( from tourists and Loop businesspeople alike ) just isn't there.
Depending on where one stands, the relative lack of patrons is a shame or a boon. Those in the latter camp can definitely appreciate stepping out on to the balcony and taking in the spectacular views of Millennium Park and the lakefronteven when the day is cloudy, as it was when we visited. ( It seemed that practically everyone walked out to take advantage of the warm weather, posing for photos. )
We were seated in one of those large rocking sofas seen on porches across the country, and the seat provided that aforementioned view. There was a little problem adjusting ourselves to tackle the culinary fare, but that was really a minor dilemma.
The fare itself is substantial. Size queens will love this placeCindy's serves platters that feed three to four people, as well as large plates. People may initially balk at paying $24 for French toast; however, think of the cost per person when everyone dives into the dish. ( The drinksand we ordered juicewere admittedly relatively miniscule, even compared to a glass of water. To its credit, though, this place has an intoxicating ( pun intended ) mix of "sunrise potions," teas and mocktails. )
Another advantage is that half-orders for most brunch items are available. We ended up getting that size of the seasonal fruit, French toast and croque Madame, and it was $50 total ( three dishes for $25 per person )not bad at all.
As for the dishes themselves, they were certainly solid. The French toast was pretty tastycinnamon-raisin brioche, caramelized pineapple, Tahitian vanilla creme fraiche and barrel-aged maple syrup. The croque Madame ( a combination of brioche, Neuske's smoked ham, gruyere, mornay, fried eggs and frisee salad ) was also pretty good.
Other brunch offerings ( enough to warrant a return visit ) include watercress salad, eggs Benedict, B.L.A.T. ( bacon, bibb lettuce, avocado, heirloom tomato, Japanese mayo ) with fries, salt-and-pepper biscuits and pastries.
I do recommend trying out brunch at Cindy's. Just be sure you make a reservation to avoid that clubby velvet-rope feel.