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The Dearborn Does a Solid Pre-Theater Brunch

This is the room where eating happens before matinees, probably.

Chicken-fried chicken at the Dearborn   Photo: Carrie Schedler

The shtick: A well-appointed place for a pre-theater meal.

The vibe: Seriously, this is a good-looking space. All your favorite décor-blog trends make an appearance: distinctive globe pendants, dark wood, exposed beams, subway tiles. The crowd’s a little less fashionable—it’s an amalgam of tourists, matinee-catchers, and regular Chicagoans meeting their tourist and/or matinee-catching friends for a meal. It’s not a knock against the place: we all deserve to have a cool-ish option for when we meet our theater-loving out-of-town friends near their Loop hotels. 7 out of 10

The drinks: The main event is a Bloody Mary ($12) that’s been adorned with what has to be half its weight in garnishes—a hunk of sausage, shrimp, a fried olive, and potato chips. Sadly, the garnishes are the best part: There’s not much going on in the weak drink. I stuck to the beer back. 5 out of 10

The food: Much like slightly gussied-up sister restaurant the Beacon Tavern, this place won’t rock your world, but it’s a welcome respite in yet another particularly dull brunching neighborhood (in this case, the Loop). Yes, there are well-executed, trendified basics available: crisp chicken-fried chicken ($16) practically drowning in red-eye gravy, a smoked salmon benedict ($18) topped with plump slices of fish. But your attention should be directed to the sides, where you’ll find three shareable baked goods that deserve space on your table. My recommendation: the cinnamon roll ($7), a sticky, syrup-soaked monster that will be demolished far faster than anything else you’ve ordered. 7 out of 10

The service: Friendly and attentive. 8 out of 10

Overall: You will probably have brunch here before going to a matinee performance of Hamilton and you’ll enjoy it just fine. 7 out of 10

145 N. Dearborn St., Loop

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