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Go for the Pancakes at Kingsbury Street Café’s Brunch

Add a cupcake when you’re done for good measure.

Whole-wheat carrot pancakes with maple cream cheese   Photo: Carrie Schedler

The shtick: Sidewalk café that does a mean baked good.

The vibe: Kingsbury Street Café aims to be the prototypical sunny stroll-by spot where the light streams in pleasingly over the bakery case of housemade cupcakes and muffins and the clinking of mimosa glasses can be heard from around the room. The small issue is that it could not be located on a less scenic stretch in Lincoln Park—its patio faces a Whole Foods megaplex and its neighbor is gentleman’s club Vip’s. They make the best of it with massive windows, giving the dining room some serious airiness, and the aforementioned patio, which is lined with pussy-willow-filled planters and is a delightful place to station yourself for a while. The clientele is mostly 20- and 30-something women congregating in groups, almost all of whom were locked into philosophical discussions of Beyoncé’s Lemonade during our visit. They are mostly either surprisingly well-dressed for a Sunday morning or straight out of barre class, possibly both. 8 out of 10

The drinks: A passable house Bloody Mary ($9) brings the tomato but not nearly enough heat. The coffee options, though, are a lot more fun—a potent Ethiopian drip ($4), a refreshing iced Vietnamese coffee ($4.50) swirled with sweetened condensed milk, and an above-average chai tea latte ($4.50). 7 out of 10

The food: The menu seems to straddle two modes of eating: First, “I was bad this weekend” penance cuisine (egg white frittatas, breakfast quinoa, juice-like fruit coolers) and, second, “it’s my cheat day” straightforward indulgence (multiple modes of pancakes, stuffed French toast, a croque madame). The better options come from the latter category, particularly a plate of their borderline essential pancakes. The lemon ones dot most tables, but the whole-wheat carrot option ($12) with a scoop of maple cream cheese and a sprinkle of pecans manages to be both hearty and decadent should citrus not be your thing.

Elsewhere, there’s a salmon hash with poached eggs ($16) that’s made with tater tots instead of standard potato cubes but is cursed with the unfortunate visual likeness of cat food—we found ourselves digging out the tot bits from among the mound of bland, flaky fish. The unfortunately named Piggy Moo Cluck sandwich ($11) also failed to make much of an impression in spite of its promise of maple-glazed bacon, eggs, and cheddar cheese. We did, however, revel in our post-meal caramel cupcake ($4) from the bakery case up front, with wonderfully fluffy white cake and sticky-sweet swirls of icing. 6.5 out of 10

The service: A little variable—sometimes sweet and charming, other times distant and chilly. Either way, it’s always fast. 7 out of 10

Overall: Decidedly solid—while not every dish hits, there are enough solid choices (cakes, both cup and pan) and a lovely enough patio to keep it in the rotation. 7 out of 10

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