** PLEASE NOTE: Tippling Hall is now closed. However, since it was one of my favorite restaurants, I’m leaving this post up as a momento to their delicious dishes**
By now you have no doubt realized my obsession with brunch food but what I haven’t told you before is how particular both Hubby and I can be about it. We each like very different dishes and it can often be hard to find a spot for the two of us to get enthusiastic about together.
Brunch dates can be a source of serious debate between the two of us so often I usually reserve brunch meals for dates with my girlfriends.
But when I heard there was a new spot in River North that offered a selection of comfort foods from all over world, I couldn’t wait to take Hubby. I figured if there was one spot we could both agree on, it would be the spot that offers a little bit of everything.
So we entered the world of Tippling Hall, a whimsical spot of perfectly executed dishes, wildly magical libations and quirky decor, with high-hopes and empty stomachs. The entrance itself gives you a taste of the edgy awesomeness to come with an enormous overhead sculpture of silver flasks…
And glass panels of swirling graffiti.
There’s even a giant mural of the Windy City skyline.
As well as a wall of hilarious custom signs advertising their multi-ethnic fare and drink specials.
My favorite is the giant pickle sign declaring, “Seriously, our house made pickles are kind of a… Big Dill”.
The wooden menu itself is a work of quirky, custom art too including important quotes such as Ron Swanson’s:
“There has never been a sadness that cannot be cured by breakfast food.”
As well as a definition for the phrase ‘tipple’, the origin for TIppling Hall’s name. Can you tell this is a spot that encourages lively drinking with friends?
Case in point.
The atmosphere at Tippling Hall is what makes this such a unique spot: its warm and friendly, with a crew of staff that welcome you like family. It’s a swanky River North space without the high-brow pretenses — instead Tippling Hall puts it’s energy into a fun and lively space that encourages happiness, vibrancy and a lot of liquid courage for those who need it.
Speaking of liquid courage…
I started the morning off with the Big Nose Gets Lei’ed, a charming amethyst-hued cocktail of majorcan melon tea-infused white rum, lime, grapefruit, pineapple, and grenadine.
This may very well be my new favorite way to booze at brunch. The flavors are sweet and fruity but there’s a complexity to the profile that make this more than just another “girly” libation. I positively loved this mixture and especially appreciated the gorgeous presentation.
Yes that is a bright-red tortilla chip garnish!
And yes, this drink is as good as it looks. Don’t let the beets fool you — they lend an earthiness to the cocktail profile but I think even the staunchest beet-hater could get seriously enthusiastic about this unique take.
Armed with the most important part of a Tippling Hall brunch, we moved on to our first course of Apple Cider Donuts. Fresh fried and rolled in cinnamon sugar, these rings are some of the best donuts I’ve had in Chicago.
If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll no doubt notice how often I eat donuts. If I could justify the carbo over-loading, I would probably eat one every… single… day.
But let me tell you about the travesty that is brunch in Chicago — if you sit down at a restaurant for breakfast, GOOD LUCK finding a spot that will bring you a donut as you read the menu.
I can’t think of a single restaurant that actually offers a donut worth ordering. Pretty much every single one of my favorite donuts comes from a designated donut shop.
And there’s nothing wrong with that.
But having the ability to start my brunch meal covering my fingers in spicy sugary goodness while I stuff my face with a perfectly fried, apple-cider flavored donut is what I like to term Brunch Liberty!
Seductive little things, these donuts.
But it wouldn’t be brunch if we just ate donuts!
Our first order was this brilliantly conceived Crab Eggs Benedict smothered in spicy sriracha hollandaise and served with zesty, old bay seasoned french fries.
Now I order a lot of shellfish-based brunch items, like this Lobster Hash and this Lobster Polenta Benedict, so I have a strong basis for comparison when it comes to dishes like this.
But the enormous, sweet chunks of crab, the perfectly executed hollandaise (spicy without being a palette-killer) and the addictive french fries on the side make this dish the ultimate New England brunch comfort food.
Next time I’m ordering this very same dish but with the Old Bay Hollandaise just to embrace the New England flavors even more (but I’ll probably top it with sriracha…).
Next up came one of the most delicious nibbles I’ve ever had: mini Corn Dogs! Don’t be fooled by the low-brow sound of these dogs — the batter keeps everything inside brilliantly moist while having that traditional, sweet cornmeal flavor all drizzled in syrup and dots of sriracha.
Tippling Hall was kind enough to make me a version out of shrimp and I’ve honestly pined for this dish ever since. I’ve never had a shrimp corn dog before but now Tippling Hall has gone and gotten me addicted!!
I’ve never actually wanted to petition a restaurant for a particular dish before but I am seriously considering picketing outside Tippling Hall for a tray of these fried bad boys.
The batter is filled with herbs and spices all fried to a crispy, greasy golden perfection that really makes me want to see shrimp corn dogs become a trend!
We could call them “Shrimp Dogs” or “Shrimp Twirls”…
Ok, the marketing name needs a little work but the recipe certainly doesn’t.
And Hubby absolutely swallowed the traditional corn dog version whole, declaring it the best he’d ever had!
Our third course balanced out the savoriness of the previous two: Cinnamon French Toast doused in huckleberries and vanilla-mascarpone cream.
Have you ever had huckleberries before? They have a beautiful tart flavor that screams of Southern comfort food. And also happens to look pretty sexy first thing in the morning…
After copious amounts of mimosas we were finally ready for our fourth and final course — a crowning finale of the very best Tippling Hall has to offer!
Hubby opted for the Ham Steak and Eggs, a grilled bone-in ham steak made in-house.
This dish is the very definition of a Ron Swanson breakfast, don’t you think?
Manager Hayes Swope declared that this dish alone was the reason he always worked the brunch shift on weekends (but Tippling Hall now serves brunch on Monday from 12PM to 4PM too! We’re all doomed!).
This dish is not for the faint of heart!
A hearty, heaping pile of all things breakfast, the sheer quantity of food in this dish will floor you. It’s easily three meals for the average person!
Just look at that hefty slice of ham steak!
My final order was no different in sheer quantity…
I ordered the Salmon and Eggs flatbread: smoked salmon and capers atop a bed of scrambled eggs all drizzled in lemon cream and some arugula.
This “pizza” is positively insane with the scrambled eggs forming a unique brunch-spin base instead of marinara. There’s no cheese on this dish either but believe me when I say you won’t miss it. The salty salmon and crusty bread pair together superbly.
My one complaint is that I didn’t taste much in the way of the lemon cream sauce and I think that more lemon and creamy flavors would have really made the salmon sing!
But, as with every other dish at Tippling Hall, it was overflowing with high-quality flavors and cooked absolutely perfectly.
I’ve never actually had a true breakfast pizza having only had frittatas dubbed ‘breakfast pizza’ before but this dish has me converted! And the crunchy crust has me pining to try more of Tippling’s flatbreads…
On another occasion…
Once I can fit into my jeans again…
And after I’ve eaten through the mound of extra food we took home…
Which probably means I won’t be fitting into my jeans again any time soon.
If you’re looking for a breakfast oasis that treats brunch food with the respect it deserves, look no further than Tippling Hall! They have something for everyone and yet, despite the diversity of the menu, each dish and libation is executed with serious thought complete with flavors that will blow your mind!
So I would like to amend Ron Swanson’s famous quote to, “There has never been a sadness that cannot be cured by breakfast food at Tippling Hall.” Check it out and you’ll see — it’s impossible to leave Tippling Hall without feeling happy, energetic and stuffed to the very brim!