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December 20, 2008

Kitsch’n River North

by gastronomicbypass

GB Note: Getting a second opinion on KRN from hungry yuppie.

Location- 600 West Chicago at intersection of Chicago and Larrabee

In one word – Average

Food – For weekend brunch, there’s a lot going on at Kitsch’n. They now have two locations; we tried the one in River North. Their three-page menu offers both breakfast and lunch options that add a little artistic license to all the old favs. For example, Coconut Crusted French Toast or Bayou Crab Cake Benedict were two choices that offered you a creative interpretation of a brunch classic. You can also choose between their Wings Three Ways—Buffalo, Thai, and BBQ style—or Mac ‘N Cheese puffs with marinara dipping sauce as fun alternatives to your average bar wings or mozzarella stick appetizers. This twist on comfort food is Kitsch’n’s claim to fame, perhaps best exemplified by their As-Seen-On-TV Green Eggs and Ham—eggs scrambled with fresh basil pesto and served with smoked ham—which Rachael Ray raved about on her “$40 Dollars a Day” show.

Unfortunately, despite the Food Network fanfare and a menu full of creative options, when I went to Kitsch’n last weekend with my Trusty Sidekick and our friend, we were disappointed by our food and found Kitsch’n to be average, at best.

Here’s the breakdown. My Trusty Sidekick got a BBQ Hamburger ($9.50) and our friend ordered a Grilled Chicken Sandwich ($8.99). Both chose a side of Spicy Curly Fries. Unfortunately, they both found that their meat was dry and tough and their curly fries were cold and bland.

I tried the The Kitsch’n Sink Salad ($10.99), which comes with your choice of any four ingredients on top of organic mixed greens. For an $11 salad, the portions were okay—I got a pile of greens with a decent portion of avocados, cucumbers, roasted red peppers, and tomatoes (my four ingredients). My complaint is that it was served completely without ceremony in a stainless steel mixing bowl (were they out of plates?), and, I was disappointed by the lack of creativity. Dear Kitsch’n Chef, given your restaurant’s creative theme and a name like “The Kitsch’n Sink Salad,” it would be nice if the options for this salad were more exotic so that we salad-lovers could enjoy some of your creativity too. For example, I was hoping for something like blue cheese stuffed olives, candied sunflower seeds, grilled portabella slices, even artichoke hearts—but, no dice. If it was only $8 or even $9, instead of $11, it would have been adequate for what it was. But I ended up walking away thinking that I could have made this salad on my own and for a lot less money.

My salad quibbles aside, there was a definitely deal-breaker during our meal—our friend asked for milk for her tea, and when it arrived we were surprised to find that there were either spoiled milk boogers or scrambled egg boogers floating at the top of her pitcher. As you can imagine, it was not appetizing. My Trusty Sidekick and our friend had been fighting the good fight against dry meat until then, but after that we all had to surrender. All in all, if I try Kitsch’n again I would definitely go with one of their breakfast items and leave the lunch menu alone.

Drink – Typical brunch cocktails, or affordable wine choices if you prefer.

Service – Even though we went at prime brunch time (high noon), we were seated immediately. Our waitress was pleasant and prompt. Other than the milk fiasco, the service was satisfactory.

Scene – We sat in Kitsch’n’s outdoor beer garden, which was very relaxing. The tables are well-organized, so you don’t feel like you’re competing with a stranger’s conversation or claim to space. Many of the tables have large patio umbrellas, so it’s nice and shaded. The atmosphere is very casual and low-key. It would a great place to meet friends for brunch, and its very family friendly—take kids if you have them—or—parents when they’re in town.

Dress – Unlike some brunch places in Chicago, the River North Kitsch’n isn’t a hot spot where Friday or Saturday night dress seems to continue on into brunch-wear the next morning, and suddenly everywhere you look you see lots of boobies looking to get their late morning/early afternoon buzz on.

In other words, jeans and a t-shirt are fine.

Cost – Without drinks, it was about $13 per person with tax and tip.

If you like, try- Orange, Yolk, Tempo, Demitasse

Written by hungry yuppie


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