Housemade Yogurt – Chickpea Granola, Fry Bread, Powdered Sugar
Cinnamon Toast – Foie Gras Mousse, Strawberry Jam, Black Pepper
Anson Mills Grits – Scallop XO, Egg Yolk Sauce, Parmesan
Chicken & Waffles – Honey Butter, Whiskey Syrup, Fried Chicken
Cookies & Milk – Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Milk Ice Cream
Having thrice visited Alinea, Next and The Aviary before migrating West it was with great anticipation that Brunch at Roister was booked first amongst several meals in Chicago, the two years since opening seeing crowds level off a bit despite Michelin accolades that predictably proved well deserved.
Located at 951 West Fulton Market in an area currently under heavy construction, both roads and nearby buildings ravaged but Grant Achatz’s open-kitchen tribute to modernized fire cooking standing strong, it was with reservations made via TOCK confirmed that a seat was immediately offered at the Chef’s counter on arrival, the team already hard at work and soon picking up steam as the dining room filled.
Toqued from the start by Andrew Brochu and open for dinner nightly plus three days of Brunch starting at 10:00am, the menus sharing ideas but entirely distinct save for a few key dishes, it was from offerings fairly similar to those listed online that five plates were selected, a request to have them coursed one-by-one not a problem at all and the first arriving no more than ten minutes later featuring tangy housemade Yogurt ready to be mixed with textural Granola and scooped up with Fry Bread whose Powdered Sugar topping provided just enough sweetness to make it all work.
Without doubt a Restaurant where all but those planning to focus solely on their companions are benefitted by seats around the kitchen, the timing and precision of all four Chefs not unexpected but impressive nonetheless, it was no sooner that last bites of plate one were wiped up that Roister’s ”Cinnamon Toast” arrived, a thick smear of Foie Gras atop housemade Bread essentially playing Peanut Butter’s role in a decadent PB&J given depth by freshly cracked Pepper.
Seeing a lot of sweet yet savory ideas across the menu, those familiar with Alinea’s flavor profile likely expecting such, it was in a low-bowl of Grits with lots of heat and umami that Brunch’s most bold flavor was presented and although a fairly small portion the big flavors are nonetheless best shared while the same cannot be said of a pillowy Waffle topped with Brochu’s famous fried Chicken that most will want to keep all for themselves.
Debating both the Foie Gras Candy Bar and pricey Wagyu Burger but deciding the better part of valor was instead saving space for that night’s Loyalist-Smyth two-fer it was instead in Cookies & Milk that the meal wrapped just prior to noon, a Dessert almost as well-regarded as the dinner-only whole Chicken proving not only delicious and texturally compelling but a true study in how to stoke childhood memories without relying too heavily on Sugar.