Brunch is my favorite meal because I can get anything. Feeling sweet? Get pancakes. Feeling salty? Grab a burger. Thirsty? Alcohol for days!
Lurking in the back of restaurant Wyler Road, there stands an old painting of Prince the staff says is cursed.
The decor gives it the vibe of my grandmother’s kitchen, tidy yet vibrant with tastefully chosen kitchenware hanging off the bar. Wyler Road (3581 W. Belden Ave.) is tucked away in a corner so inconspicuous I drove past it three times. Via public transit, it’s a Red Line ride down south to the Fullerton stop and a straight shot down West Fullerton on the 77 CTA bus until Fullerton and Central Park. After I hobbled through the snow and cut through the overgrown shrubbery — I’m talking to you City of Chicago — I fell in love with Wyler Road.
I need all of my vegetarian and vegan readers to scream “Hell yeah!” Wyler Road has an amazing brunch menu, almost everything can be made vegetarian or vegan friendly. So, please forgive me, as the past few columns weren’t entirely vegetarian and vegan friendly; I’ll make sure to take it into consideration in the future.
The restaurant’s walls are coated in aquamarine and teal tones, touched by the gentle white sunshine breaking through on a cloudy winter day. I was seated with my back toward the cupboard which housed the Prince portrait and a front row seat to people-watch. For a small restaurant, there are plenty of seats available for big parties and almost a dozen seats along the bar. Turn around is fast so don’t panic if your server says there’s a wait — you’ll have a beer in hand and a menu before you can say, “Wanna go somewhere else for brunch?”
To anyone who has gone to brunch with me, there are two constants: I need a drink immediately, and if they serve chicken and waffles on the menu you bet that I’m ordering that faster than a toddler on a can of Coca-Cola. Purple Rain by Prince hummed through the restaurant and I knew I had to order my two die hard loves, a 3 Floyds Gumballhead and the chicken and waffles.
Before I could take a sip from my beer, a piece of artwork was laid in front of me. Beautifully caramelized Belgian waffles were the foundation the bone-in crispy chicken thigh sat upon. House pickles doused in hot sauce and whole grain mustard drizzled down the front, and the slight shimmer from the maple syrup captured my eyes and my stomach.
I have only fallen in love a few times — this was one of those times.
The first bite was sweet and savory; the chicken was juicy yet had a crackling skin. The waffle had a brown sugar crust and tasted even better with some hot sauce smothered onto it.
Eating this dish felt like the scene in “Ratatouille,” when Remy the rat is teaching his brother Emile how different flavors, like sweet and savory, smoky and spicy all interplay with one another. Moments like these remind me chefs like to play with people’s expectations and open up a whole new avenue into the culinary world.
I chatted with my server throughout the meal. She told me stories behind her extensive tattoo collection and explained why the portrait of Prince was right behind me. It was left by the previous renters and the restaurant just kept it up. As she opened the cupboard I heard a gasp from the bartender and a shout, “It’s cursed!” This was part joke, part reality as I witnessed the pure horror engulf the bartender’s face. This is definitely one of the strangest experiences I have had at a restaurant — aside from the time a SWAT team arrested a patron at a taco joint at 3 a.m. while I was eating in a drunken stupor.
I highly recommend Wyler Road, not only as a brunch spot but as a lunch and dinner venue. The staff is not only knowledgeable about the restaurant’s food and drink menus but are interesting and lively. My bill after two beers and breakfast was $22. You’ll walk out of Wyler road with a satisfied stomach, a few new tattoo ideas and maybe a few Prince songs stuck in your head. Check them out at www.wylerroad.com.