Sunday Brunch gets a makeover at Primehouse

However, the Hungry Hound says beef plays only a small role on the weekly menu.

Dim sum service is typically found in Chinatown. Small carts, stacked with various plates of food, make their way through the dining room. Diners get to choose what they like, and since the plates are small, customers can try lots of different things.

The "American-style" dim sum at the Primehouse is a return to the past, according to owner David Burke. Burke used to offer the same Sunday brunch at the Park Avenue Cafe. But this reincarnation certainly has its tasty highlights.

On a typical Sunday morning at David Burke's Primehouse at the James Hotel in River North, tourists and locals are filling up for a full day ahead of them. But in addition to the usual Sunday morning fare, the restaurant now offers an American-style dim sum service, which is wheeled out to diners in a series of five or six carts. The Asian accents are few, compared to the American dishes on offer.

"So it was kind of a natural fit to do a little bit of both, and have you be able to taste all of the things that we do at Primehouse in one meal, instead of having to come back 25 times 'cause the menu's so large," said Rick Gresh of David Burke's Primehouse.

Clients can find the following items on the "Brunch and Crunch" cart: eggs Benedict, tiny French toast and pancakes, fruit-and-granola parfaits and smoked pastrami salmon. An "Asian Goodies" cart offers patrons shrimp cocktail salad, tiny cups of tuna and salmon tartar covered in chive-flecked cream cheese and tender Kobe beef carpaccio served on a slab of sea salt.

"You can have whatever you want, as much as you want. We encourage everybody to taste as much as they can - there's 35, 40 items that come out, so there's a lot to taste," said Gresh.

Diners can choose from the following dishes on the "Comfort Bites" cart: Chinese barbequed spare ribs, mini cast iron pots with fried chicken and coleslaw, earthy mushroom risotto with white truffle oil, and a ham hock-studded macaroni and cheese. Kobe corn dogs are cutesy but good.

"So one Sunday you may have something, and then the next Sunday there's something else, because we can be creative and create dishes that are just seasonal," said Gresh.

The "Ribstickers" cart offers braised short rib over polenta and salmon filets with spicy eggplant and bok choy, beef skewers cooked over a hot stone, and steak au poivre with creamed spinach.

Finally, a dessert cart is wheeled over to each table, replete with cheesecake lollipops, dessert shooters of various flavors and mini pies.

Gresh sums it up best when he offers his only piece of advice: "You have to pace yourself."

Even though the restaurant bills its offerings as an "American-style" dim sum, there is one cart with Asian items, such as dumplings and steamed buns, but honestly, these are the weakest items.

And unlike traditional dim sum, where customers are billed for whatever they choose, there is a flat fee of $35 for adults, $16 for kids. Clients can take as much as they'd like from any cart.

David Burke's Primehouse
616 N. Rush St.

American-Style Dim Sum Brunch
10:30 a.m. - 2 p.m.
$35 adults/$16 per child

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