Dear Saturday brunch at The Southern,

Short rib hash from The Southern. Pick the best pieces from every meal and you have this glorious concoction. Photo/Dear Food

Short rib hash from The Southern. Pick the best pieces from every meal and you have this glorious concoction. Photo/Dear Food

Brunch is my favorite activity. I have a developed skill set for brunching on the weekends. I’ve seen it all, I expect it all. But nothing could have prepared me for this.

Many Chicagoans know about you, The Southern. Nestled in the hip and trendy Bucktown, you do all the food things that food people love to see: Fresh and local ingredients, high-quality craft brews and cocktails. You combine the best of southern living with a big city twist. So, I was ready for the wait. I was ready for the one-page brunch menu (because why not make a few things really well instead of 100 things mediocre?), but I was not ready to want every single item on that one-page menu.

And it wasn’t just a, “I’m so hungry, everything looks really good” type of want. It was a legitimate, dire need to taste every dish. I did the next best thing: got an appetizer, and made my brunch partner vow to give me a piece of his food.

I ordered the short rib hash. Let those words melt into your ears, just like the braised short rib did in my mouth. Alongside the most delicious sweet potatoes, wild mushrooms, pickled beets (for a killer kick of flavor), you put a classic sunny side egg on top. Eating this felt like the moment when you finally kick off your wretched, uncomfortable work shoes after a long day at the office. It felt like settling into a warm bath. It warrants a sigh of relief after the first bite.

That’s not all. There’s this magical, whimsical dish called breakfast macaroni: Mac and cheese, bacon, scrambled eggs and biscuit bread crumbs (you can see it in the background below. And that is an oatmeal stout on the table as well. Judge me not, it’s brunch!). Savory and starchy, gooey with a tiny crunch, it was an exercise in self-control to not devour it all in one sitting.

But the pièce de résistance was the fried chicken Benedict.

I've had a lot of eggs Benedict in my life. But never with fried chicken. Photo/Dear Food

I’ve had a lot of eggs Benedict in my life. But never with fried chicken. Photo/Dear Food

The only way to describe this food is to imagine the best fried chicken you’ve ever eaten, then cover it in Bearnaise sauce (a child of Hollandaise, just with herbs). Putting eggs Benedict with fried chicken is like wrapping chocolate in edible gold: Two tremendous things becoming one.

Well, The Southern, you’ve just about done me in. What else can I say about Saturday brunch, but thanks and see you next week?

Love,
A

Alma is a journalist by trade, living and working in Chicago while staying true to her tree-hugging spirit, L.A. spirit. Favorite pastimes include watching great television, listening to fantastic podcasts and daydreaming about writing a novel. Favorite foods run the gamut from sweet to salty to savory to eggs Benedict. And chocolate. Especially chocolate.