River Roast warms up the winter with their Blues & Brews Brunch

 opened this fall and was one of the most highly-anticipated restaurant openings of the year.  As a new restaurant, it continues to evolve and improve and one of the most delightful improvements has been the introduction of the weekend “Blues & Brews Brunch.”

Executive Chef John Hogan combines his two favorite things for diners to enjoy along with him: Chicago blues music and food!  At River Roast, food is more than sustenance; it is an entire experience with friends or family and on Saturdays and Sundays, Chicagoans can get in on a set to world-class Chicago blues.

The upcoming performance schedule is as follows:

Dec 6 Dave Herrero
Dec 7 Smiley Tilmon
Dec 13 Linsey Alexander
Dec 14 Mississippi Dave
Dec 20 Willie Hayes
Dec 21 Pete Gallanis
Dec 27 Toronzo Cannon
Dec 28 Mike Wheeler

I was recently invited to experience the “Blues & Brews Brunch” with a friend and it was a wonderful afternoon – both the food and the music provided during our visit by Breezy Rodio.

We started the day by sampling two of River Roast’s signature cocktails, the Roast Bloody Mary and the special Punch.  I am a great Bloody Mary fan and this was an excellent one – not too hot for my taste.  The heat is from the horseradish, and the addition of a little ‘crackling’ as a garnish is a nice surprise.  River Roast is justifiably proud of the punch, and my guest loved sipping on this delightfully sweet (yet not overly sweet) concoction.

While sipping on our cocktails, we ordered one of the restaurant’s most popular appetizers, the Shrimp and Crab Toast.  Think a tremendously upscaled version of that shrimp toast you get in a Chinese restaurant.  In this case, the toast points are light, crunchy, and savory with oil.  The crab is clearly fresh, and the addition of a little avocado adds a nice additional flavor.  The serving comes with four pieces and had we not been ordering a full meal, we would have just ordered a couple more of these and had a lovely time listening to the blues.

River Roast specializes in the preparation and presentation of whole, roasted items which are then served tableside.  Everything on the menu looked amazing, but we opted for the Whole Roasted Chicken served with River Roast Crispy Potatoes.  As a side, we opted for another signature dish – Hogan’s Peas.

The chicken is prepared perfectly.  I know that sounds like hyperbole, but quite honestly I don’t think I have ever tasted a better roasted chicken.  They serve it whole and carve it tableside for you.  The skin is savory, browned, and crunchy.  The meat is unbelievably juicy and full of flavor.  The chicken is served atop River Roast’s famous potatoes.  Now, I am not normally a fan of potatoes but these are the culinary equivalent of crack.  You will not be able to stop eating them.  Believe me, even if you think you won’t like them . . . try them anyway.  You can thank me later. 

As for the peas, Chef Hogan has created something truly special.  The staff will tell you that, growing up, he hated eating peas so as a chef he decided to create a preparation that would finally make them edible.  Clearly, he has succeeded.  The fresh peas are cooked just enough to keep them slightly al dente (not at all mushy).  The combination of bacon, pearl onions, bibb lettuce, and a savory sauce elevate this side to something special.

Of course, no brunch is complete without a .  Although it was a tough decision, based on the wonderful dessert menu, we finally opted for the Fat Elvis (chocolate peanut butter pie with peanut, graham cracker, and pretzel crust – topped with dried bananas and pretzels).  There’s nothing else to say except, “Yum! Order this!” I don’t normally like bananas, but even I would order this again.

The restaurant is located at 315 North LaSalle in the old Fulton's space.  River Roast’s “Blues & Brews Brunch” is available Saturdays and Sundays between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.  You can reach River Roast at 312-822-0100.  For more information, visit their .  You can also follow their social media conversations at , and .  

Photos in this post courtesy of River Roast.

River Roast Chicago
315 North LaSalle, Chicago, IL 60654
James Beard award-winning Chef Tony Mantuano and Executive Chef John Hogan’s menu of contemporary American tavern fare is satisfying and soul-warming.

Plan your Chicago Experience - free signup!

Chicago