Brunch spots seldom achieve that magical balance between the almost-breakfast and not-quite-lunch definition that rules Sunday mornings in Chicago. One of the few that can easily swing between those two meals plus queue up the taste buds for dinner is Glenn's Diner (1820 West Montrose Avenue). I like this neighborhood spot because it's an easily accessible mid-way spot between Northside friends and downtown city dwellers. Plus, it's only a few, convenient steps from the Montrose Brown Line station.
Step inside Glenn's and you're immediately drawn to the giant blackboards with hand-written notes about the seafood specials or the "breakfast bar" with shelves of cereal favorites. A bowl of cereal is not a terribly original brunch plan, but they up the ante here with a chilled bowl, side of fruit and a choice of nearly 30 different boxes of popular and sugary cereals. I'll be honest, I'd rather get my Cocoa Puffs fix than have a whole box of the stuff in my house as a constant temptation. The cereal and a number of other breakfast items are available for breakfast at any time.
See Seafood Everywhere
The grown-up in me returns for hash and eggs with smoked trout from Rushing Waters Farm in Wisconsin -- the potatoes are a perfect foil for the salty chunks of trout. I also get my seafood fix with a decadent Seafood Strudel that mixes shrimp, crab, hard boiled egg, cheese and pastry that's topped with mushrooms and hollandaise sauce. It's completely satisfying. The Crabcake Eggs Benedict takes the classic breakfast stand-by and improves it with lumps of delicious, flaky crab. If you want a non-breakfast seafood experience, take note of the blackboards and make plans for dinner on a return trip.
Sweet Georgia's Brunch Choice
If you like pecans, Glenn's has them in many forms. Find them sprinkled over savory spinach salad with blue cheese crumbles, down them over fluffy pancakes and syrup, or order a candied dish of sweet, Georgia pecans to add nutty goodness to any of your brunch choices. When I really need a pecan fix, I prefer to hold out for a slice of pecan pie. It's hard to go wrong.
There's more than seafood and pecans on the menu. If you want a real brunch cross-over, try Chicken and Waffles, or choose a fluffy four egg omelet with your choice of fixings. The sweet French Toast is made from a family recipe that infuses thick slices with honey and cinnamon, as is much better than what I typically find at diners.
If you want dinner, Glenn's Diner is a great choice for affordable seafood and I can't argue the decision to arrive later. Still, I think brunch is a better choice. Between the endless menu, sweet and savory choices, drink menu and seafood highlights, there's a meal to satisfy everyone in your morning crew. I'll meet you in line!