What happens when two budding food critics go visit one of the most popular restaurants in Chicago?
Opinions inevitably clash. Lots of silence because we’re just eating. And when we do talk, food tends to dominate the conversation.
The name Mindy’s Hot Chocolate is both misleading and totally accurate, because while the restaurant’s hot chocolate drinks are absolutely sensational, their brunch, lunch and dinner options all look equally as enticing.
I had made an 11:45 reservation for this “Chicago Must” restaurant for a sunny Saturday brunch, so we didn’t have to wait for seats. As we effortlessly slipped past the small crowd of people waiting at the front of the restaurant, I could feel the slightly envious, I-want-to-be-you-right-now glares on our backs.
We had a bit of a crisis picking from the brunch menu, which changes regularly. Additionally, brunch is only offered on the weekends.
We eventually settled on ordering their famous burger ($15), which came highly recommended by my friend Eileen, a cup of their Chai hot chocolate ($7), and their Brioche French Toast ($14), suggested to us by our waiter.
They had graciously split it into two cups for us, each served with two homemade marshmallows, soft, sweet and fluffy. The drink smelled like dark chocolate and bitter, spiced Chai. The menu description listed this drink as 1/2 Chai, 1/4 dark chocolate (72% French chocolate) and 1/4 Mexican hot chocolate (with cinnamon and cayenne).
My first sip revealed a very well-blended, smooth drink served at a reasonable temperature. Natalie described it as having the creaminess of a milkshake, but without that overwhelmingly thickness. She said that the ratios of different mixes of hot chocolate were perfectly balanced and that it was these flavors that gave this restaurant its “wow factor” and outstanding reputation.
She rated it as average, commenting that she doesn’t really like burgers topped with bacon, as the combination is too crunchy and smoky for her palate.
Silver linings included the thick and soft Brioche bun as well as the fancy mini squeeze bottles of ketchup and hot mustard, details that demonstrated the thought invested in their food prep.
The French Toast also gave Natalie and I mixed feeling. While I personally don’t enjoy the crunchy and sticky texture of toffee, I loved the innovative combination of toffee and sweet potatoes, with the vanilla sour cream balancing out the heavy sweetness. The crust of the toast had a baked-like texture that Natalie described as too crunchy, and not soft enough.
Surprisingly enough, we both really enjoyed the breakfast sausage that came with the plate, as it was very juicy and added a salty, savory complement to the sweetness of the French toast.
The restaurant’s reputation and popularity attracted all sorts of people; locals, tourists and foodies included. The restaurant was very busy that Saturday, and loud enough to interrupt conversations. The service was mediocre and the restaurant seemed a bit short-staffed that day, but the tardiness of the server certainly wasn’t a deal breaker.
I’ll certainly be back to try other menu items, and I encourage you to make the trip to Wicker Park as well! Next time, I’d like to try one of their scrambles. Many tables around us had ordered it, and I thought, did we not get the memo about scrambles?
1747 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60647