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Easter brunch on Chicago's North Shore

April 2, 2008 12:49:27 PM PDT
Easter falls a little early on the calendar this year. So, food reporter Steve Dolinsky is thinking about some delicious egg dishes.He says there is one restaurant on the North Shore where chefs are gearing up for a big brunch next weekend.

Until they opened Prairie Grass Cafe in Northbrook, Sarah Stegner and George Bumbaris were culinary fixtures for two decades at the Ritz-Carlton downtown. They still apply their mantras of local, seasonal and organic. And when it comes to brunch, they pull out all of the stops, especially for Easter Sunday.

Eggs play a major role in any Easter brunch. While they tend to show up every weekend at Prairie Grass Cafe in Northbrook, for Easter, chefs Sarah Stegner and George Bumbaris are getting a little creative.

The "egg-in-the-hole" begins with thick slices of challah that have had the center cut out; dipped into an eggy, half-and-half mixture, the slices are cooked until brown. Another egg is cracked into the hole, and after its been plated, a bacon-tomato relish is carefully spooned over the top.

A breakfast sandwich of sorts begins with toasted country bread topped with Wisconsin Cheddar; domestic prosciutto and a pair of cooked eggs finish it off.

"The sandwich is with La Quercia prosciutto and local eggs and Otter Creek Farm Cheddar, and then we try and cut it in the center and let it run in the middle," said Prairie Grass Cafe's Sarah Stegner.

There's more than eggs, of course. Peeky toe crab cakes, homemade waffles and an elegant citrus salad are just a few of the extras. Be sure to try Bumbaris' moussaka, which is a far cry from the Greektown cliche.

"Instead of beef we do braised lamb so we do layers of sauteed potatoes, roasted eggplant, and then nice braised lamb that's picked apart and another layer of eggplant topped with a béchamel," said George Bumbaris.

For dessert, made-to-order crepes with either chocolate or raspberry sauce.. or perhaps a slice of Sarah's knockout coconut pie. Eggs are the real stars though, as every guest gets an individual eggs benedict to start off their meal. A nod to the chefs' experience from their days at the Ritz-Carlton.

"There's an element of that, too, but it also has to do with care of the preparation and beauty, how we put it out, and the presentation, and I think that that it being special, is what people are looking for. It's a celebration," said Stegner.

Reservations are obviously required. But even if you can't make it in for brunch, do try the restaurant's signature shepherd's pie for lunch or dinner sometime.

Prairie Grass Cafe

601 Skokie Blvd., Northbrook

847-205-4433


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