Ever since it opened eight years ago SmallBar Division has been known for its carefully curated selection of craft beers. It was one of the early bars riding the craft beer wave and their commitment to working with small producers who know their stuff gets stronger every year. Owner Phil McFarland and Chef Justin White have that same philosophy when it comes to their food.
They’ve got a fantastic brunch menu, and several of their items were highlighted at our first Chef’s Table brunch event. It was a gorgeous Sunday afternoon, and as each person arrived our server, also named Justin, greeted us with Organic Grape Aqua Fresca, a fresh and not-too-sweet beverage made from concord grapes and poured over a thick lime twist. After we were all present he brought us spicy bloody marys with a Half Acre Daisy Cutter back. These were followed by smashed banana muffins topped with milk caramel, brown sugar streusel and bourbon cream; the best ooiest gooiest pecan sticky buns, and crave-worthy farmers cheese and tomato jam with crostini. As if all of that wasn’t rich enough, it was paired with a Goose Island Bourbon County Stout. With its robust coffee and chocolate flavors it is perfectly suited for brunch!
Seriously – these sticky buns are worth a visit all on their own.
The bloody mary is made with tomatoes from the tomato jam. It is spi-cy and as fresh as can be. Those weren’t the only two drinks
Our next course showcased the lunch part of brunch, with an arugula spinach salad with pears, candied pecans, a white balsamic vinaigrette and fried goat cheese. Paired with a Sweet G, a cocktail made from Hendrick’s Gin, St. Germaine, ginger beer, honey syrup and lemon juice, the two would be perfect on their patio on a balmy day.
Our final course was tiger shrimp with creamy polenta, tomato confit, and a poached egg. I can’t begin to describe how good this dish is, and it’s my job to be able to describe it! We were ready to throw all sense of decorum out the door and lick the bowls, it was that good. It was rich; it was creamy; when I broke the egg yolk and it mixed in the with that polenta it was like a bite of creamy heaven. Sweet Chicago it is good!
This was served with a yukon gold, carmelized onion and bi-color corn hash and grilled country bread with fresh blueberry jam, and paired with Central Waters Oktoberfest.
If you’re looking for a new brunch place, look no further than SmallBar Division. You’ll be pleasantly surprised and pleasingly sated, and you’ll know that not only do they deserve their recognition for fine beer, but also should be recognized for their equally fine cuisine.