While Tremont offers up one of the best concentrations of restaurants in the city, one stands out for its focus on brunch.
Lucky’s Cafe sits away from Lincoln Park and the center of Northern Tremont. The parking can suck with only street spots, the place is small, and it closes at 3. But after trying the food, all that is overlooked.
First up, the extensive drink menu. House blend, mochas, americanos, black jacks, so on and so on. The Thai ice tea jumped out at me, a blend of teas, milk, and spices. It tasted a bit like an iced chai, but with a more pronounced black tea taste. Refreshing for a summer day.
Speaking of chai, Lucky’s serves up one of the better chais I’ve had. Strong presence of spice but not overpowering, a subtle sweetness, and altogether balanced.
Lucky’s menu isn’t big in number of choices, but that doesn’t make choosing any easier. With the options diners have to decide, brunch or lunch, sweet or savory.
Difficult as those choices were, none of my decisions let me down. The Shipwreck contained all sorts of goodness: cheese, home-fry style hash browns, bacon, zucchini, and egg, rolled into one big all encompassing breakfast dish. All it needed for the ultimate morning meal was pancakes and syrup.
But instead of pancakes, they had a sweet corn griddle cake on the daily special. The hybrid pancake/johnnycake had the floury, cakey taste expected with pancakes, but with the slight sweet from the ground up corn. A plateful of honeyed whipped cream, blueberry compote and candied walnuts finished the dish. The whipped cream got to be a little overwhelming in such a large quantity, but the blueberries added the right amount of flavor to enhance the dish without covering the taste of the cakes.
If you find a seat near the front, the pastry counter will entice as you eat. Rows of torts, cheesecakes, scones, and other goodies make an easy sell. I recommend both the coconut blueberry scone and the mini key lime pie, but perhaps most notable are the s’mores.
A layer of graham cracker crust with texture like a pumpkin bread, topped with marshmallow and covered in melted chocolate, with a marshmallow to top it all off. The Lucky’s version doesn’t have the same feel or consistency of those campground s’mores. This is a more sophisticated s’more. Sophisticated, but not stuffy.
That’s how the restaurant feels in general. The food is hearty and portions are good. While Lucky’s may be pricier, figure $10 to $16 for a dish, you get your value from it. And chances are there will be leftovers to take home.
Most impressive is their focus on food quality. They source from local farms and even have their own garden set up behind the patio. Many of the sauces or jams are homemade. Even the graham crackers and marshmallows for the s’mores are homemade.
That effort and dedication show through and make Lucky’s well worth a visit. Or as many visits as it takes to try everything.