As usual, I was very torn on where to go for dinner Saturday and had a reservation at Nico Osteria and one at NoMi. Since we were staying at the Thomson and walked by Nico all the time, we concluded that it was a better spot for brunch. It was our last day in Chicago and I was really looking forward to trying Nico. The brunch menu is a bit unique an unusual which I thought was great but was a bit harder on my nieces who weren’t as excited about it but ended up enjoying a major sugar rush with lots of good pastries.
What we ate:
We started with the Fresh Italian Doughnuts which were served with a honey vanilla caramel. I found them a bit on the dense side and ended up focusing my attention on the Kouign Amann which I had first tried at B. Patisserie in San Francisco. This one was crunchy on the outside and moist on the inside but the one in San Francisco had a very creamy chocolate/Nutella like center and that is impossible to beat. I may have to learn and make a t home http://www.bonappetit.com/test-kitchen/how-to/slideshow/step-by-step-kouign-amann/?slide=1
Steel Cut Oatmeal ricotta, farro, quince, walnut: the oatmeal was made with faro which sounded unique and interesting but ended up being way too bland. The ricotta when mixed it made it creamier but it needed more quince or berries or something. I ended up adding cinnamon and brown sugar and bananas and then it was tastier.
Gem Lettuce Salad avocado, orange, pistachio: massive portion of fresh gem lettuce with a very creamy dressing. I prefer my salads lighter on the dressing but it was still tasty and the avocado was ripe to perfection and the pistachio added a nice crunch.
Stracciatella Fett’unta brussels sprouts, lemon honey, walnuts, nico potatoes: when the waiter described the toasted bread covered with Stracciatella cheese and fried brussels sprouts it sounded divine but the bread was a bit too tall and as a result, when tasted didn’t get crispy enough. The cheese was hard to spot and the sprouts were very fried. It was still nice but I expected ABC Kitchen quality bruschetta. The best part was the Nico potatoes which were perfectly roasted and crunchy and with lovely parmesan on top.
Soft-Scrambled Eggs peperonata, prosciutto, olive focaccia: this looked great and was very good. I of course ignored the olive focaccia but the eggs were very flavourful and very moist and worked beautifully with the mixed of peppers and the prosciutto.
Spaghetti Carbonara bacon, egg yolk, bottarga: brunch was at 11am and I usually like sweet breakfast so I convinced my husband to get a pasta so I could try….and after all, carbonara is the perfect breakfast pasta as it has bacon and eggs….He loved it but I found too oily, but still tasty. The bottarga just added an interesting flavor that made it more original.
In sum: really nice space and interesting menu. I wouldn’t say must rush back for brunch but would like to go back and try dinner and sample some other pastas.Our waiter was absolutely lovely but the host was not very nice and one day I called for a coffee and the person who answered the phone was clueless.
Nico Osteria Chicago http://www.nicoosteria.com/