The shtick: Rock ’n’ roll brunch for obsessive locavores.
The vibe: Three Aces has a very appealing look, a mix of divey (brick everywhere) and funky (cool posters adorning the walls, Trading Places playing on the TV). It’s the kind of place you want to hang out in all the time, even more so when the stellar patio is in commission. 8 out of 10.
The food: The best option on the menu is the same regardless of what time of day you visit: the Ace burger ($13), a monster-sized flavor bomb that’s punched up with bacon jam and melty aged Cheddar on a pretzel bun. It’s a contender for the city’s best burger. Period.
The rest of what we tasted never quite reached those heights: Ace’s Benedict with mortadella and black pepper biscuits suffered from unevenly cooked eggs (one runny, one almost congealed), the Tuscan stew known as ribollita begged for a little more body in its broth, and the porchetta pull-apart sandwich (basically a pulled pork shebang on Parker House rolls) was cute in concept but needed a few more coats of aïoli to make things a little more cohesive. Everything could have been a little warmer, too. 5 out of 10.
The drinks: Let’s start with the good news: In addition to an excellent beer menu, Three Aces may have one of the tastiest Bloodies we’ve tried, all full-bodied and blustery with plenty of spice and a buzzy vodka kick. The platonic ideal of Bloody Marys, if you will.
But it is easy to forget about how delicious said Bloody Mary is when you’re faced with the serious coffee problem we encountered. When you order coffee here, your only option is a personal French press for $5, so you can top your own mug off as you go. Sounds lovely, right? Except there’s a finite supply of the French presses in the house. Even though the restaurant wasn’t close to full when we visited, all of the contraptions were in use by another party, so our waitress told us we were out of luck and would not be able to get any coffee at all. There’s not even a pot of drip stuff they keep on hand in case of emergencies. In short, if there’s a large party hoarding all the presses, you’re screwed. Not okay. There has to be some kind of backup caffeine delivery system for this inevitability. 5 out of 10.
The service: Sweet servers, but good lord, things were painfully slow—there’s no reason for a meal for four in a half-full restaurant to take more than two hours. One can only linger for so long on a backless bar stool. 6 out of 10.
Overall: Just want a burger and a bloody? This is your place! Unfortunately, the rest of the brunch could use some fine-tuning. (And some extra coffee pots.) 6 out of 10.
1321 W. Taylor St., University Village, 312-243-1577
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