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Bongo Room (Wicker Park)

View Map1470 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago
Tel: (773) 489-0690
Fax: (773) 227-2584
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Editorial Review of Bongo Room (Wicker Park)

Pity cherries jubilee: Once the reigning queen of the dessert world, its popularity began to wane after the Carter administration, and has since been relegated to restaurants that still shampoo their shag carpeting. Leave it the Bongo Room to save it from its flambe purgatory. Cherries jubilee French toast, one of the many unusual breakfast items here, combines caramelized brioche with dark cherry compote and vanilla bean ice cream and serves it, piping hot over multicolored plates.

A study in contrasts, the Bongo Room takes what's best of urban and rustic and crunches it into a tiny, hipster masterpiece: think pistachio painted walls meets exposed brick meets experimental artwork meets fuzzy murals of fruit. The motif may feel schizophrenic but it attracts a steady stream of low-key twenty and thirty-somethings that seem to know exactly what they want. Servers make their way through congested lanes of blonde-wood tables, taking the restaurant's frequent lines in stride, often waiving to regulars standing outside. Even with Tupac on the stereo and a line out the door, this places oozes tranquility.

Besides the aforementioned French toast, the Bongo Room also does wonders in the egg department, culminating in magnificent, albeit somewhat less creative, omelets. The breakfast burrito with cilantro, jalapenos and scallions is a gooey work of art which, when combined with the croissant sandwich, covers almost every breakfast item in the northern hemisphere (muenster cheese and hollandaise anyone?). Not a bad catch for $8.95. Fun specials such as the raspberry lemon pancakes may be a bit too sweet for some, but the Bongo Room's excellent coffee works as a nice counterbalance.

Basic cold-cut sandwiches serve as the Bongo Room's lunch menu; they're hearty, but at about $10 seem a bit pricey considering the myriad cheaper places down the block. Still, while the afternoon menu may need some tinkering and the wait may be long, don't pass up this chic side establishment; anyone who saves cherries jubilee from sweet-tooth limbo deserves a solid chance.

Average cost: $10-$20

Centerstage Reviewer: Adam White

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8 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Monday-Friday; 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Saturday-Sunday

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