I am friends with some serious foodies. I am talking about women who can make tamales from scratch and make restaurant-level dinner parties look easy.
My friend Yvette definitely knows her way around the kitchen. When she invited me out for brunch I left the restaurant choice in her court. She produced a massive Vietnamese feast for her own wedding shower (!) so clearly I was in good hands. Her choice? Marmalade in Ravenswood. When I saw her text, I nodded in agreement, because I had a happy family celebration there around the time that Marmalade was still a new kid on the block. Now, sit back, relax, and take in cinco reasons that Marmalade is a good fit for a family brunch.
Nothing spells summer in Chicago like P-A-T-I-O. Our crew included Yvette’s teenager and even her fur baby, and my toddler. Everyone was happy munching away al fresco on Marmalade’s front patio. It’s not every day that I venture out to restaurants with my little guy because dining with a toddler can present challenges, but I have found that patios are perfect to handle those inevitable spills and messes.
When I consider the world of brunch I see it as divided into hemispheres of deliciousness: sweet and savory. I guess those lines blur occasionally (Hello, chicken and waffles!), but I digress. I was faced with a difficult choice at Marmalade, because the menu features solid sweet and savory options. I went with the Artichoke Omelette, a creation that features a few of my favorite ingredients: roasted tomatoes, spinach and goat cheese. It was packed with flavor, and I savored every bite. My little guy Isaiah did sample my fancy egg dish, but seemed to prefer Yvette’s simple fluffy scrambled variety.
Get your sweet on
I definitely remember going the sweet route at that big old birthday brunch bash way back when. I am sure that things have changed since that early visit, but it looks like Marmalade has some creative options that are making me crave a heaping helping of sweetness right about now. Raspberry Pineapple French Toast and Ravenswood Crepes, I’ve got my eye on both of you!
Laid-back and family-friendly feel
I caught up with owner Gus Katsafaros, a friend of my brother Ben who is no longer with us. Chatting with Gus brought back good memories of our family brunch with Ben way back when. While the team at Marmalade clearly takes food seriously, Gus has a friendly demeanor that seems to carry over into the laid-back vibe.
During our meal, we faced Isaiah running around, Yvette and I chasing him, Isaiah flagging down a busboy and, yup, a bit of toddler-induced mess, but I did not get the what-is-that-child-doing-in-a restaurant glare from anyone. The Marmalade crew engaged with Isaiah, so I felt comfortable. It also helped that Yvette somehow has more energy than my super active toddler.
Location, location, location
This real estate saying takes on a special meaning when it comes to brunch. After savoring a big and tasty brunch, my favorite pastime is taking a slow stroll around cute shops. With Neighborly just across Damen for Chicago souvenirs that don’t suck and two Hazel boutique outposts along Montrose, Marmalade checks the location box for me.
Two mamas, a college-bound teen, non-stop toddler and even a pooch enjoyed our brunch at Marmalade. I would call pleasing that entire crowd a win any day of the week. Just don’t stop by on Tuesday, because they are closed. Happy brunchin,’ everybody!
If you go
1969 West Montrose Ave., Chicago