For this little restaurant spot may appear to be in Chicago… but step through the door and you find yourself in the romantic-yet-hip heart of the Côte d’Azur, the Villa Nellcôte.
So one faithful Saturday morning Starr, Gigi, Katharine, Soraya and I stepped through the orange doors for a magical January brunch in the south of France.
The decor is dripping in opulence and touches of bright, modern colors. Not to mention, Nellcôte has one of the most photogenic bars I’ve ever seen!As well as chandeliers and twinkling lights everywhere!While I do believe in my own powers of description, I think the way Nellcôte describes their vibe on their website hits the nail on the head:
Taking its inspiration from Villa Nellcôte, the notorious Côte d’Azur mansion where the Rolling Stones dined and partied with a rotating cast of 1970s bohemians, socialites, style icons and creative rabble-rousers during the recording of “Exile on Main Street,” Nellcôte is a stunningly elegant playground for anyone looking to indulge their deviant streak.
Located in Chicago’s Randolph Street Corridor, this high-energy nightspot takes your breath away with its opulence: Art Nouveau wrought-iron gates, a white Italian marble grand staircase, Parisian herringbone wood floors, crystal chandeliers, Gran Dossier Tolix bar chairs in Hermes orange. But what’s most striking is its utter lack of pretense: Decadent but infinitely approachable, Nellcôte marks a defiant return to classic luxury—but without the velvet rope exclusivity.
Nellcôte specializes in kitchen-crafted cocktails and European-inspired small plates made with Midwestern ingredients, including pizzas and pastas that showcase house-milled Midwestern wheat. Prices are affordable, the dishes shareable, and—just like the Stones’ unforgettable summer in the South of France—everyone is welcome to contribute to the grit and glamour of the new cultural zeitgeist.
One thing that Nellcôte does that I think is absolutely brilliant is their Insta-Glass promotion: if you Instagram a photo or video while dining there, show it to the manager for a free glass of wine!
Vino and Instagram in one package? I didn’t know the universe could be so charming!**Fizz****Clink****Snap** #Dork
For our first nibbles, we sampled the Share Plate: charcuterie, pleasant ridge reserve cheese, housemade brioche, and tea-poached plums. I mean, can you go wrong with starting your brunch with bread, cheese and meats?
The answer is an astounding no.
But still Nellcôte’s version was superb down to the very last detail. The butter is freshly made in-house, the brioche as well (and oh my was it HEAVENLY — airy, salty and the absolute perfect vehicle for homemade butter). The cheese and meat selections were divinely salty compliments to the sweet plums too.
But honestly, just order this for that fresh brioche. You’ll die happy.
I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned my Earl Grey Tea addiction before but I probably should. I fell in love with the tea blend on a childhood trip to Niagara Falls and have sought out the zesty bergamot scented black tea ever since. Maybe I liked it because of Captain Picard from Star Trek?
Either way when I saw Nellcôte had their own Earl Grey brunch cocktail: the Lady Jane, I knew it was meant to be. Stoli 1 Rasberry, Dewar’s Honey, rare tea cellars earl grey tea and lemon all married together to make the most sophisticated, booziest sweet tea I’ve ever slurped.
It was like a naughty Arnold Palmer composed of more sophisticated elements than usual. And it’s so delicious you can drink it up like juice.
One appetizer Nellcôte is known for is this stunning little donut topped with apple cider, maple glaze and house bacon. Talk about a seriously photogenic donut!
Prosecco and Bacon Donuts… that is what blogger brunches are all about right?
Soraya rocking her swoon-worthy Hermès bangle while enjoying her java.
Next our food arrived! But first, we needed to take care of something important: blogger brunches always require business card selfies!Three of us ordered Nellcôte’s LEGENDARY Lobster Hash: poached hen eggs, chunks of juicy lobster, kennebec potatoes, all smothered in smoked paprika hollandaise.
This dish is without a doubt the definition of #BrunchPorn.Why, hello sexy!Katharine diving into hers.What heavenly bites this dish made!!GIgi and Soraya ordered the bagel and lox platter: salmon, tomato, onion, caper berries, cucumber, hard-boiled egg, and lemon-dill cream cheese. The lemon dill cream cheese smelled amazing!!
For dessert, Katharine opted for the Budino: butterscotch, banana & pecan. Not going to lie. It was pretty sexy too…She absolutely loved it and didn’t share a single bite!
But we all survived since the rest of us ordered the house spun seasonal gelato. A trio of delicious homemade flavors that I’ve actually forgotten since I gobbled them up so quickly.
Now, I make ice cream at home and have had some pretty life-changing gelato experiences in Europe, so I can be a bit of a snob about it. In all honesty, it takes a lot to impress me when it comes to gelato. But Nellcôte floored me. The flavors were unique, original and FLAVORFUL! This dish was the crowning end to a perfect meal and these photos are inducing hunger pangs as I type.Coat – Forever 21 Herringbone (ON SALE here)
Snood – A&F (similar here)
Jeans – J Brand ‘835’ Crop in Black (regular length here)
Turtleneck – Forever 21 Gray (a STEAL for $12 here)
Boots – Roper Heeled Cowboys (here)
Bag – Longchamp ‘Le Pliage’ Large in Black (here)
Sunglasses – Le Specs ‘Peach Pit’ in Black (currently sold out, similar here)
Lips – MAC in Ruby Woo (here)
You can check out Gigi’s review from our brunch here too!