As the days brighten and the temperatures rise, my craving to go explore local eateries increases. To me, nothing can beat a farm-to-table restaurant whose menu has seasonal ingredients and works with local farmers. Instead of spending St. Patrick’s Day weekend drinking by the river, I opted for a light brunch at Range (1119 W. Webster Ave.), located five blocks from the Fullerton Red Line stop.
My friend and I were pleased to be able to get a reservation for late Saturday afternoon, especially during the holiday weekend. When we arrived, not many guests were in the space, which gave us the opportunity to sit in the bar by the window. Each spot in Range offers a comfortable environment, — from a dimly lit lounge and dining room tables under a faux-grass ceiling to an open illuminated bar with booths.
On weekends, brunch options are divided into traditional breakfast and lunch. The breakfast portion of the menu is split between sweet and savory choices ranging from a pork and duck sandwich with feta cheese and maple aioli on a toasted onion brioche bun ($11) to a walnut currant French toast with pecans, vanilla rum anglaise and house-made caramel sauce ($9).
Instead of getting an entrée packed with too many toppings and sweets or the chilaquiles ($11) suggested by our waiter, we both chose eggs Benedicts. I decided to be simple and pick the root veggie Benedict ($10.50), while my friend got a bit more creative with the sweet potato waffle Benedict ($10.50).
My dish was paired with a side salad of simple mixed greens tossed in a light apple celery root vinaigrette. I am not a fan of heavy dressings and this one met my standards, being just enough to coat the greens but not drench them. It was reminiscent of apple cider vinegar with a hint of lemon.
The Benedict itself was comprised of two freshly poached eggs on top of thinly sliced beets and sweet potatoes. While a traditional eggs Benedict uses two halves of an English muffin, this one used two slices of white potatoes. The original menu item came with a carrot herbed hollandaise, but I decided to do without it since the runny egg yolk gave enough texture for me. Combined with the caramelized onions, the dish was far from dry and dull.
My friend’s sweet potato waffle Benedict came with a side of lemon potatoes. Each egg was nestled on a quarter of a waffle with British bacon, spinach and hollandaise. Most hollandaise sauces are rich and buttery, but this one was light and translucent. She noted that it did not take her attention away from the taste of the eggs themselves, something she really appreciated. The potatoes were crispy on the outside but soft on the inside, with a barely noticeable lemon flavor.
Range’s well-prepared and colorful presentation makes it hard for you to want to take the first bite. While catching up with my friend, we were able to eat slowly and savor each slice of potato oozing with egg yolk running from our forks.
Our table was set with two bottles of 78 Red Ketchup — a ketchup company based in Chicago — that is non-GMO, all natural and free of high fructose corn syrup. Its spicy flavor was the favorite between both of us, pairing well with our potatoes, but the all-natural flavor was just as good. Just a little dash went a long way.
Before leaving, we walked around the small restaurant to take a look at the light fixtures built out of cattle tags and the paintings of farm animals on the back walls. After our brunch, I immediately wanted to tell all of my family and friends to try Range the next time they visit the city.
A few blocks from the Red Line and DePaul University, the joint is tucked between beautiful brick homes down a quiet street. The restaurant caters to all ages, especially to families, since there is a kids brunch menu that offers a little Range burger with herb fries ($7.50). If the brunch menu isn’t enough to bring you back, the restaurant is open daily for dinner, dessert and cocktails.
Range is open Monday-Thursday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., Friday-Saturday from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday 9 a.m to 10 p.m. Follow @RangeChicago on Instagram for appetizing photos and specials.