The Bongo Room

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

Where’s the good coffee? Lantana

I heard about this small cafe from one of Time Out’s suggestions. It’s tucked away in a small pedestrian alleyway just behind where Roka is. My main reason for visiting this cafe was the coffee, although after hitting a big session at the gym, I thought I’d also test out their brunch menu, particularly since there’s not really enough places around that do it well.


In terms of coffee, they offer all the typical offerings although I went for the Flat White since it was on offer, a perfectly dark colour, creamy enough to tantalise the palette without overwhelming the taste buds. Bonus points to them for also automatically serving up a glass of tap water with it – something many other cafes and brunch places fail to do.


For my brunch, I went for something I wouldn’t normally get: Corn Fritters with a poached egg, oven roasted tomatoes, rocket and lime aioli (£8.50). Plenty of other dishes really appealed to me and I’d definitely think about returning although I think it might be a bit nicer in the spring or summer where you can dine at their al fresco tables just not practical in the wintery winds. I wasn’t quite sure what to think of the corn fritters although I did enjoy it all. The lime aioli brought a welcome sharpness of the peppery rocket, though the combination of the poached egg and over roasted tomatoes seemed to turn the dish slightly too soggy for my liking.

Name: Lantana
Found at: 13 Charlotte Place Fitzrovia London W1T 1SN
The Good: Thumbs up to awesome coffee, friendly service and an appetising variety of pastries and takeaway foods. Go there!
The Bad: They don’t really have that many tables to sit at. I can’t wait to return in spring though I’m sure I’ll drop in way before then!

The Electric Brasserie

I’ve had the Electric Brasserie on my list of places to go for a while, so when I went to catch up with Gerrod and Kristy, I thought it’d be the perfect place to have brunch on a Sunday.

Eggs Benedict at the Electric Brasserie

I booked ahead since I knew that it was pretty infamous for long queues, and a very busy front of house. It certainly paid off because we had a comfy table in the back dining room, away from the hustle and bustle of the front counters, and away from all the people gawking at your meal while they wait near the bar.

We sat in one of the corner seats, so we all got a chance to lounge back on the comfy leather sofa whilst we perused the menu. I ordered some coffee while everyone else ordered some orange juice. Service was prompt, definitely not the, in your face you might have suspected. We had a couple of hiccups during the meal, with the first being two coffees and one orange juice arriving instead of the other way around. The other hiccup was that they charged us for the additional coffee, so it’s a good thing we checked the bill.

Pancakes at the Electric Brasserie

We ordered our food, with Gerrod getting the eggs benedict (pictured first), Kristy, the pancakes (just above), and myself, the French Toast with a side of bacon (pictured below). The food didn’t take too long to arrive and we were soon tucking in. I think I remember Gerrod raving about the benedict, and Kristy enjoyed the pancakes. Both of their dishes looked really good.

French Toast

I thought that the toast looked a little bit on the small side, considering my favourite 202 up the road serves it with two large slices. Fortunately combined with the excessively rich maple pecan butter smeared on top, it was plenty to fill me up until dinner time. I didn’t finish the side of bacon, because even “crispy” wasn’t quite as cooked as much as I would have liked.

Name: The Electric Brasserie
Found at : 191 Portobello Road, London, W11 2ED
The Good: Comfy, enjoyable atmosphere out back away from the heaving crowds waiting out front. Decent food and reasonably priced considering its popularity and location.
The Not So Good: Service was a bit of downer on our particular trip and quite disappointed with the bacon.