It’s hard to put my finger on exactly what Wild Eggs, on the edge of Washington Park West, is trying to be: a strip-mall chic, neighborhood breakfast joint or a modern art gallery devoted entirely to egg photos. I had been expecting just another franchise with decent food with a chain-y feel, and despite wanting to write it off, there was something unique that piqued my interest.
The dining room features some strange oddities that should have seemed out of place, but somehow just added to the quirkiness and character. Walls full of speckled eggs had me wondering from what animal they hatched and from which science museum they were stolen, while the circular coffee bar in the center looked like a modular space ship about to take flight. Even the way the silverware was set down sideways on the table had me scratching my head as to why the staff wouldn't place them vertically like every other restaurant.
Despite said weirdness, the room is bright, cheery and welcoming. Unlike Lucile’s across the street, the wait at Wild Eggs was just 15 minutes even with a spill of customers — and the wait was made more tolerable with the option to order drinks directly from the host stand. Open for breakfast Monday through Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and for weekend brunch from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., Wild Eggs is a solid option to get your breakfast fix any day of the week.
The drink menu is extensive and has you covered for anything you may crave, from fresh squeezed OJ and lemonade to bottomless, artisan house blend of Brazilian Mogaina and Honduran Marcala coffee. Mimosas are available by the pitcher or glass in regular, pomegranate or Grand Marnier variations and while there were other alcoholic options, the hair of the dog was completely overshadowed by the elaborate coffee creations.
The food menu is also intimidatingly long and leaves you wondering if anything can really stand out, since it boasts everything but the kitchen sink. To my relief, all dishes were egg-septional creations, thanks to the Eggsecutive Chef (yes, that is a real title). Hungover and not in the mood to make any decisions, I left the ordering to my friend, who is a regular and insisted that to get the full experience we share three massive plates between the two of us.
First up was Kalamity Katie’s Border Benedict, a decadent green chili cheddar corn cake creation topped with a heaping pile of chorizo bits, queso, pico, perfectly diced avocado cubes and scallions, with a drizzle of sour cream daintily spread across the poached eggs. It didn’t stay in tower formation very long because that was just the pick-me-up I needed. Shoveling salty skillet potatoes into my mouth was the cure to what ailed me.
Sticking with our south-of-the-border theme, my brunch companion suggested chilaquiles — not something I would typically order (who wants tortilla chips for breakfast?), but she assured me they were not your standard preparation. More like huevos rancheros, these were described as a Mexican breakfast casserole with soft tortillas, refried beans, salsa verde, queso and a sunny-side-up egg baked into a skillet. Sided with a shot of jugo de limon y chile (lime-chile juice), that’s one you just have to close your eyes and throw back. Coughing like a college co-ed taking her first pitiful shot of cheap tequila, I could feel the hair growing on my chest from the shocking mix of bitterness and heat.
We subbed the standard potatoes that came with the dish for the kitchen's grits of the day to cool my throat, a surprise that ended up being the highlight of the meal. Much lighter in texture than your normal dense, flavorless grains, these were more like a meaty oatmeal (and were good enough to make me reconsider my dislike of oatmeal). I could have polished off ten bowls — and I forgot all about the harsh wake-up call from the lime-chile shot.
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Of course, no good brunch ends without dessert, so the bananas foster waffle was a must. A deceivingly simple Belgian waffle topped with a lowly scoop of ice cream was delivered to our table, but all the good stuff came on the side. As soon as we poured on the thick, caramel-y rum sauce, everything started melting and the race to devour the mess began. Completely full by that point, we didn't finish, but the soupy mess held up well in my fridge for a much later afternoon snack.