I’m so excited to report back on my most recent tasting at Lakeview’s new brunch hotspot, Mortar & Pestle. Conceptualized by partners & chefs Stephen Ross and Stephen Paul, the idea was to offer a fancy dining experience in a casual atmosphere and at an affordable price. Their most expensive item is $17 dollars! Currently, the restaurant only operates for breakfast and lunch, but is in the process of expanding its hours and also acquiring a liquor license. In the mean time, the food and décor more than make up for it. Beautiful benches, stained glass and a cold industrial vibe to enhance the experience as you eat your breakfast. The level of involvement and attention to detail is apparent in the beautiful tables personally constructed of salvaged wood and glazed by Chef Paul.
After a chance to chat with both Chefs, my guest and I were treated to an amazing spread of breakfast and brunch items, starting with a duo of the House Made Biscuit with Butter & House Jam and the Coriander Beignets. The biscuits were fluffy and flaky, while crispy in the right spots and with the faintest tang of buttermilk, served along with a mini cup of delicious fruit jam. It really made me miss tea-time growing up in India. The beignets didn’t fall short either; they were uniquely soft & airy with brown butter powdered sugar sprinkled generously atop. With this start, we definitely got any carb cravings out the way & happily so.
After that, we had their very impressively plated Oyster Shooters, which came out decorated on moss bedding. The oysters were fresh and were garnished with a few pickled shallots and some chives, entirely eliminating the need for cocktail sauce. The oysters truly gave a refreshing kick to our appetite.
The standout dish for me however, was the Crab Benedict. I like eggs, and I obviously love fish, so if you pair the two, I’m a fan. But this dish was extraordinary and the best benedict I’ve had in Chicago. Sweet Alaskan King Crab with a poached egg and creamy Sriracha Hollandaise. The Hollandaise sauce, which is usually the lifeblood of a benedict was done to perfection here; velvety, smooth and impossibly rich. The Hydro Watercress was also a nice touch and slightly minimized my guilt of consuming all of this buttery deliciousness. And, it was also nice to see Chef’s generosity with the sauce, which is sometimes missing in other benedicts. Lovely!
One of their popular menu items is the Avocado Toast, which came out next. This is also the new ‘Cronut’ type obsession in Chicago. And honestly, I’ve been a little bored with Avocado Toast lately. Mortar & Pestle however, has brought me back to my obsession by serving toasted bread with semi mashed avocado, lemon, cumin, Aleppo pepper, chives and smoked salt. So creamy and spicy all in one bite that it made it difficult to stop eating them.
We ended with the Bircher Muesli, which once again took me back to my childhood. It came with bruleed banana, house granola, Greek yogurt, honey, vanilla paste, and fruit such as blackberries and pomegranate seeds. What more can I say?! The sweetest goodness possible, served in a bowl.
My overall experience was lovely, and I will definitely return to this restaurant. Every dish has been created with such love and care using all organic ingredients. The future is bright for Mortar & Pestle. Go check it out and don’t forget to order that biscuit!
Mortar & Pestle
Address: 3108 North Broadway, Chicago, IL 60657
Phone: (773) 857-2087
Hours: Dining Room 3PM-Midnight
Price: $4.25 - $98.25