When trying to find places to head out for brunch, I stumbled across The Bongo Room. They have two locations and fortunately there was one several blocks away from where I was staying at the time, making it a very convenient location for breakfast after a bit of a lazy morning.
It’s easy to walk down South Wabash Avenue and almost miss their 1152 location. It’s on the corner and the door is fairly non de script, leading into, what looks like, a converted concrete room fitted out with ikea-like furniture. What the decorations fail to add in terms of character, the large windows with streaming sunlight and tables full of people help make up.
I perused the menu, ordering a freshly squeezed orange juice and see on the menu that they do espresso based drinks (one of the few!) All excited, I order the latte only to discover quickly it’s something never to order again. It’s manufactured exactly like one of those st@rbuck’s-fashioned milk monstrosities terrorising those who crave a simple, good coffee. I was stunned as the waitress dropped off the glass, literally larger than the one that my “large” orange juice was served in. I gave it a good attempt but I couldn’t bring myself to finish it, despite it costing almost US$5.
One of the things that I read about The Bongo Room is the way they let you order parts of a meal, like the pancakes that normally arrive as a three stack, but just as orderable as an individual one. Glancing at the menu, I forgo the thought of trying several different pancakes as all of them looked like they’d better sit on a dessert menu such as the Bavarian Stack (chocolate, cherry and vanilla creme). I ended up ordering a single lemon ricotta pancake, assured it was the least sweet of those listed. With the waitresses’ help (more on that later) I also ordered the breakfast croissant, filled with a poached egg, some cheese, bacon and served with toasted red potatoes.
The waitress must have been joking with me when she had indicated how large the pancakes were before I placed my order. She’d assured me with a circular gesture that looked no bigger than the size of a fist, the pancakes were small. What arrived was an enormous pancake that easily would have made a meal of its own. Looking at the two places sit side-by-side, I certainly felt pretty greedy for ordering the breakfast croissant as well. I managed to finish about half the croissant, and half the pancake trying and leaving most of the red potatoes behind.
The pancake was light and fluffy, full of coconut and lemon and definitely being sweet enough without the need for more sugar in the form of maple syrup they also brought to the table. What red potatoes I did have were crisp, salty and definitely went well with the rest of the dish although I wouldn’t say the breakfast croissant was anything to jump up and down for.
I’d definitely come back here although it’s a shame they don’t do a dinner service as many of their pancakes would make awesome desserts.
Name:The Bongo Room
Found at:1152 S Wabash Ave, Chicago, USA (another location in Wicker Park)
Website: None that I could find
Cost: US$29 for the pancake, juice, coffee, breakfast croissant, tax and tip