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    Post #1 - June 3rd, 2007, 10:02 pm
    Post #1 - June 3rd, 2007, 10:02 pm Post #1 - June 3rd, 2007, 10:02 pm
    Again, it's somewhat surprising to not find an official thread on the Bongo Room, one of the few not-expensive Chicago restaurants I had heard of before talking to locals.

    I went to the South Loop location for brunch today at about 11:30. It was quite crowded on this sunny Sunday morning, so I ended up waiting about 35 minutes for a table. Armed with my Blackberry and its instant messaging capabilities I dug in for the long haul.

    When I eventually was seated it took me a moment to get accustomed to the near chaos of the place. Screaming little kids, large groups of friends, locals nursing hangovers, obvious tourists, it was an eclectic and lively crowd. Within about a minute my server was at my side, asking me if I was ready to order. Obviously, I was not, but that's the nature of a place like this. You've just to roll with it. My server was hardly fawning and even a bit curt but given her working conditions I don't blame her. She took my order, served my food, checked on my progress, brought my bill in a timely fashion. Sure, it doesn't have the feel of a neighborhood joint where one would linger, but I have no real complaints.

    Seeing that I'm me, I felt the need to order two main dishes. One could argue that, save for maybe the small egg plate and the croissant sandwich, each plate could easily feed two. Needless to say I got a ton of food. My server was really nice in letting me know that I could order the pancakes in orders of one or two (as opposed to the three listed on the menu). She didn't have to tell me this so it was nice not getting forced into the upsell.

    So I had the BLT Benedict and the Oreo Banana Pancakes. In general this place rides a very fine line between awesome and nauseating, often times straying well into each of the two extremes. The fact that I can get a stack of pancakes with crushed Oreos in the batter, topped with a creme anglaise, bananas, and whole Oreo cookies is totally awesome. It even tasted pretty damn good. Perhaps predictably, however, I felt nauseous afterwards. The same could be said of the epic eggs benedict with bacon, spinach, and a basil hollandaise. There's something satisfying about cutting into a brunch dish that easily stands a couple inches high and just going to town on it. I thought the hollandaise was underseasoned and the hashbrowns an embarassment (not a hint of crispness), but overall I was satisfied.

    With a (not so) large grapefruit juice I ended up spending like $30 on brunch. I'm not complaining though, it was a unique experience. It's not somewhere I'd go back every week, but I do plan on returning.

    Bongo Room
    1152 S Wabash Ave
    Chicago, IL
    312-427-9972
    http://www.bongoroom.com/
  • Post #2 - June 3rd, 2007, 10:08 pm
    Post #2 - June 3rd, 2007, 10:08 pm Post #2 - June 3rd, 2007, 10:08 pm
    Again, it's somewhat surprising to not find an official thread on the Bongo Room, one of the few not-expensive Chicago restaurants I had heard of before talking to locals.


    It's so crowded nobody goes there...

    P.S. Hat tip to JILS for nominating this tagline:

    In general this place rides a very fine line between awesome and nauseating
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  • Post #3 - June 4th, 2007, 11:12 am
    Post #3 - June 4th, 2007, 11:12 am Post #3 - June 4th, 2007, 11:12 am
    BryanZ wrote: Within about a minute my server was at my side, asking me if I was ready to order. Obviously, I was not, but that's the nature of a place like this. You've just to roll with it. My server was hardly fawning and even a bit curt but given her working conditions I don't blame her. She took my order, served my food, checked on my progress, brought my bill in a timely fashion. Sure, it doesn't have the feel of a neighborhood joint where one would linger, but I have no real complaints.



    The upside of this observation is that it demonstrates how Bongo Room's proprietor and staff has their stuff down pat even during crunch time when the line is out the door and the room is full to capacity. Unlike some other places down the street (Eleven City Diner is especially guilty of this still), food quality is always consistent and timely regardless.

    I actually really enjoy the food at Bongo Room, but I would also happily eat just dessert for dinner on any given day if I could get away with it. It's true that the portions are huge, and I usually end up taking half of my food home with me in a doggy bag that I can eat clandestinely in front of the tv after my kids have gone to bed for the night. As far as the crowds are concerned, it is best to try and get there when they first open for the day around 9:30 am because it does get terribly crowded by 11am or so on the weekends.

    Just my $.02
  • Post #4 - June 4th, 2007, 12:33 pm
    Post #4 - June 4th, 2007, 12:33 pm Post #4 - June 4th, 2007, 12:33 pm
    SMT wrote:The upside of this observation is that it demonstrates how Bongo Room's proprietor and staff has their stuff down pat even during crunch time when the line is out the door and the room is full to capacity. Unlike some other places down the street (Eleven City Diner is especially guilty of this still), food quality is always consistent and timely regardless.

    I actually really enjoy the food at Bongo Room, but I would also happily eat just dessert for dinner on any given day if I could get away with it. It's true that the portions are huge, and I usually end up taking half of my food home with me in a doggy bag that I can eat clandestinely in front of the tv after my kids have gone to bed for the night. As far as the crowds are concerned, it is best to try and get there when they first open for the day around 9:30 am because it does get terribly crowded by 11am or so on the weekends.

    Just my $.02


    Curious, does the above in general apply to the Wicker Park location as well as the South Loop? I certainly live alot closer to one than the other...

    SSDD
    He was constantly reminded of how startlingly different a place the world was when viewed from a point only three feet to the left.

    Deepdish Pizza = Casserole
  • Post #5 - June 4th, 2007, 12:38 pm
    Post #5 - June 4th, 2007, 12:38 pm Post #5 - June 4th, 2007, 12:38 pm
    In all honesty I haven't been to the Bongo more than twice in Bucktown since it moved it's location from under the EL tracks to Milwaukee. I just refuse to stand in line for eggs. It appears that more and more tourists are flocking to this place since it's now in guide books. It's Forno or Bon-Soiree for me.
  • Post #6 - June 4th, 2007, 2:12 pm
    Post #6 - June 4th, 2007, 2:12 pm Post #6 - June 4th, 2007, 2:12 pm
    headcase wrote:
    SMT wrote:The upside of this observation is that it demonstrates how Bongo Room's proprietor and staff has their stuff down pat even during crunch time when the line is out the door and the room is full to capacity. Unlike some other places down the street (Eleven City Diner is especially guilty of this still), food quality is always consistent and timely regardless.

    I actually really enjoy the food at Bongo Room, but I would also happily eat just dessert for dinner on any given day if I could get away with it. It's true that the portions are huge, and I usually end up taking half of my food home with me in a doggy bag that I can eat clandestinely in front of the tv after my kids have gone to bed for the night. As far as the crowds are concerned, it is best to try and get there when they first open for the day around 9:30 am because it does get terribly crowded by 11am or so on the weekends.

    Just my $.02


    Curious, does the above in general apply to the Wicker Park location as well as the South Loop? I certainly live alot closer to one than the other...

    SSDD


    Yes...same crowds.
    Being gauche rocks, stun the bourgeoisie
  • Post #7 - June 4th, 2007, 5:09 pm
    Post #7 - June 4th, 2007, 5:09 pm Post #7 - June 4th, 2007, 5:09 pm
    headcase wrote:
    SMT wrote:The upside of this observation is that it demonstrates how Bongo Room's proprietor and staff has their stuff down pat even during crunch time when the line is out the door and the room is full to capacity. Unlike some other places down the street (Eleven City Diner is especially guilty of this still), food quality is always consistent and timely regardless.

    I actually really enjoy the food at Bongo Room, but I would also happily eat just dessert for dinner on any given day if I could get away with it. It's true that the portions are huge, and I usually end up taking half of my food home with me in a doggy bag that I can eat clandestinely in front of the tv after my kids have gone to bed for the night. As far as the crowds are concerned, it is best to try and get there when they first open for the day around 9:30 am because it does get terribly crowded by 11am or so on the weekends.

    Just my $.02


    Curious, does the above in general apply to the Wicker Park location as well as the South Loop? I certainly live alot closer to one than the other...

    SSDD
    I've gone to the Wicker Park location a number of times around 11am on Saturdays, and I've been to the South Loop location around 1pm on a Sunday. I have to say that even though the WP quotes long wait times, I've never had to wait more than 20 min. It helps that there have always only been 2 of us, and we're always willing to sit at the counter. I've only been seated at the counter once.

    I like their variety of pancakes - I usually opt for one that is fruit based so that it's not overly sweet. They's always light and fluffy. A couple of weekends ago, I tasted their lobster benedict - I loved their roasted red pepper hollandaise - it was very addictive.
  • Post #8 - July 22nd, 2007, 10:15 pm
    Post #8 - July 22nd, 2007, 10:15 pm Post #8 - July 22nd, 2007, 10:15 pm
    In the past month and a half I've been back to the Bongo Room twice. Each time I tell myself I shouldn't like the food as much as I do, yet each time I'm thoroughly satisfied with the experience.

    On one visit I had the chocolate French toast and a the Thai chicken sausage. The former was decadent and delicious. A breakfast farce, yes, but worth my while. The latter was dry while tasting at once bland and somewhat off. A wonderful triple whammy to be sure.

    My next visit, I sampled a bunch of stuff. It should be noted that the Jewel Osco across the street stocks the very fine Korbel Extra Dry (yes, Extra Dry, not Brut). Never before has such good orange juice gone so well with such shitty sparkling wine--I'm of course discounting Sunday morning brunches at school with Andre/Tott's/Cook's, as those are hardly consumable. Anyway, I tried the lemon buttermilk pancakes, breakfast burrito with chorizo, mango-strawberry French toast, blueberry pancakes, and crab eggs benedict. All dishes were enjoyable, but it was the crab benedict that really stood out. This was a brunch dish that would easily pay $25 for in a luxury hotel. I never would've ordered it on my own but when offered a taste I was very pleasantly surprised.
  • Post #9 - July 24th, 2007, 7:42 pm
    Post #9 - July 24th, 2007, 7:42 pm Post #9 - July 24th, 2007, 7:42 pm
    Little known fact at the BR - You can order one of anything off their menu (i.e. one Oreo pancake or one chocolate french toast). Happy eating.
  • Post #10 - July 24th, 2007, 9:04 pm
    Post #10 - July 24th, 2007, 9:04 pm Post #10 - July 24th, 2007, 9:04 pm
    EVERYONE knows that, jeez.
  • Post #11 - July 24th, 2007, 9:23 pm
    Post #11 - July 24th, 2007, 9:23 pm Post #11 - July 24th, 2007, 9:23 pm
    I didn't know that.
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
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  • Post #12 - July 24th, 2007, 9:52 pm
    Post #12 - July 24th, 2007, 9:52 pm Post #12 - July 24th, 2007, 9:52 pm
    BryanZ wrote: My server was really nice in letting me know that I could order the pancakes in orders of one or two (as opposed to the three listed on the menu). She didn't have to tell me this so it was nice not getting forced into the upsell.


    You would if you had read my post.


    Anyway, I wasn't being serious. It's a good thing to know.
  • Post #13 - July 26th, 2007, 3:46 pm
    Post #13 - July 26th, 2007, 3:46 pm Post #13 - July 26th, 2007, 3:46 pm
    The first time I went to Bongo Room I was pretty happy with the Oreo pancakes. Seriously, who wouldn't be?

    The second time I went, I ordered the Duck Confit salad which I thought was just terrible. I took one bite and wanted to gag. The duck looked and smelled strange, the dressing was the worst I've ever tasted. Needless to say, that was the only bite I took, 'cause my appetite had run for the door.

    I saw the waitress glance at me a few times, as she was just wandering around (the restaurant was pretty empty). She only came over when the guy I was with had finished his meal.

    "Oh, you didn't like it?" she asked when she picked up my plate.
    I hesitated and said, "No, actually, not at all."
    She wrinkled her nose, said, "I'm sorry," and walked away with it. Didn't ask what was wrong, didn't ask if she could get me something else, and of course the salad showed up on the bill.

    I could have forgiven the awful meal (I mean, that's what I get for ordering salad) but I was disappointed in the service. I'm young (21) and look even younger. I got the feeling the waitress was thinking that I shouldn't have ordered grown-up food if I wasn't going to like it; I just wonder if a gray-haired man in a business suit would've gotten the same treatment.

    Okay, just had to get that off my chest. Moral of story, I'll be heading to Orange next in search of yummy French toast.
  • Post #14 - July 26th, 2007, 3:56 pm
    Post #14 - July 26th, 2007, 3:56 pm Post #14 - July 26th, 2007, 3:56 pm
    peglegged_heart wrote:I just wonder if a gray-haired man in a business suit would've gotten the same treatment.


    He probably would have. I have found that, in general, Bongo Room's servers subscribe to the "too-cool-for-school" mentality. Not that I haven't had decent service there, but it's always been tinged with a bit of attitude and lacksidaisicalness. If the confit was taken off your bill, her tip would be lighter. However, one way to deal with it would be to lighten her tip anyway, and/or speak to the manager, letting him or her know your complaint about the food.

    I hate it when people are order freaks and claim that "oh, you shouldn't order this at this particular place," but I'll break my own rule and say, duck confit is probably not ever going to be a successful dish at a place that specializes in flipping pancakes. I hope you that wasn't your first taste of duck confit because I'm sure a good version of it is miles from the one you had. :)
  • Post #15 - July 26th, 2007, 5:14 pm
    Post #15 - July 26th, 2007, 5:14 pm Post #15 - July 26th, 2007, 5:14 pm
    i feel better knowing that i'm not the only one that's gotten bad service there. lth as a support group? who knew?
  • Post #16 - July 27th, 2007, 8:06 am
    Post #16 - July 27th, 2007, 8:06 am Post #16 - July 27th, 2007, 8:06 am
    I never understood the hype of this place. It is over-crowded, over-priced and to me is nothing more than a overly glorified IHOP.
    Last edited by butter674 on July 27th, 2007, 2:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
    Butter
  • Post #17 - July 27th, 2007, 8:42 am
    Post #17 - July 27th, 2007, 8:42 am Post #17 - July 27th, 2007, 8:42 am
    butter674 wrote:I never understood the hyper of this place. It is over-crowded, over-priced and to me is nothing more than a overly glorified IHOP.


    But how were the portions? :lol:
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #18 - October 17th, 2010, 6:32 pm
    Post #18 - October 17th, 2010, 6:32 pm Post #18 - October 17th, 2010, 6:32 pm
    I've generally been a fan of Bongo Room, although I have often found some of their sweet breakfast items to be too sweet. I have also found that this problem is minimized by ordering a savory breakfast item and sharing a 1/3 or 2/3 order of one of the sweet breakfast items.

    Today, I was reminded why I like Bongo Room so much. It starts with friendly service and making sure I have my cup of coffee while I wait. It continued with a great eggs benedict, with the star being a perfectly poached egg. And then I shared the seasonal cranberry pancakes (a 1/3 order) which were excellent. They were served with a side of a cranberry and almond anglaise which, though quite sweet, was perfect spooned atop the tart pancakes. I noticed that someone at another table had ordered a full order of these pancakes and the anglaise was poured on the pancakes. Perhaps my sauce was served on the side because it was a 1/3 order. But I would suggest that if you are concerned about the overly sweet nature of some of Bongo Room's items, order any accompanying sauce on the side.
  • Post #19 - July 29th, 2013, 1:32 pm
    Post #19 - July 29th, 2013, 1:32 pm Post #19 - July 29th, 2013, 1:32 pm
    Today was my first trip to the Bongo Room and I was quite pleased with the spinach, beet and duck salad. It was too heavily dressed for my taste but it was delicious, and that crusty bread was nothing to sneeze at. Let's hope the greens stay nice enough for lunch tomorrow, too.
    I want to have a good body, but not as much as I want dessert. ~ Jason Love

    There is no pie in Nighthawks, which is why it's such a desolate image. ~ Happy Stomach

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  • Post #20 - July 29th, 2013, 3:34 pm
    Post #20 - July 29th, 2013, 3:34 pm Post #20 - July 29th, 2013, 3:34 pm
    Pie Lady wrote:Today was my first trip to the Bongo Room and I was quite pleased with the spinach, beet and duck salad. It was too heavily dressed for my taste but it was delicious, and that crusty bread was nothing to sneeze at. Let's hope the greens stay nice enough for lunch tomorrow, too.


    When in doubt, always order dressing on the side.
    Ava-"If you get down and out, just get in the kitchen and bake a cake."- Jean Strickland

    Horto In Urbs- Falling in love with Urban Vegetable Gardening
  • Post #21 - May 31st, 2014, 4:48 pm
    Post #21 - May 31st, 2014, 4:48 pm Post #21 - May 31st, 2014, 4:48 pm
    Ate at the Andersonville location today, and I have to applaud the consistency of approach, friendliness of the service, and quality of the food yet again. I have never had anything less than an excellent meal here. I never managed to go to the other locations, so I'm very happy they opened the A-ville outpost.

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