Welcome to Bunches o’ Brunches, a semi-weekly series featuring superior brunch and breakfast booze from new restaurants and menus throughout Chicago and neighboring suburbs.
This isn’t Restaurant Row. It’s Madison Street in Forest Park, a suburb twenty minutes from downtown Chicago. Here, parking and pubs are plentiful. Families march like ants down the sidewalk, dodging bearded hipsters ducking into antique shops. Storefronts bolster apartments full of young and old who save their upscale dining budget for weekends in the city. However, the neighborhood’s restaurant scene is changing.
Last September, The Heritage opened at 7403 W. Madison Street. It has been boldly progressive from the beginning in both design and dish. Inside, exposed brick and matte black walls complement white marble tabletops and glistening wood floors. Gilded mirrors virtually expand the intimate setting, which seats under 55 persons. Culinarily, it is considered seasonal American which means the rotating menu is one-part arbitrary, one-part availability. The Heritage works with a group of local farms, placing orders each week from updated lists of fresh ingredients.
The beverage program is top notch, managed remotely by Longman and Eagle alum Nick Kokonas (nope, not that one. Although, The Heritage does use Tock, designed by the other Nick Kokonas. Confusing.) Since we’re naming names, there are no rookies on this team. Partners and chefs Sieger Bayer and Michael Spiewak have served time in Nellcote, Old Town Social, and Leghorn. General manager Jeff Wilson spent three years with Longman and Eagle.
Of course, all of this means nothing unless the food is fantastic. So, how’s brunch at The Heritage?
Brunch at The Heritage
The menu isn’t pigeonholed into a region or cuisine. Instead, the focus is on sustainable, local ingredients. From there, chef’s prerogative reigns with fresh homemade donuts, huevos rancheros, French toast, and one of the best cheeseburgers in Chicago. That’s saying a lot.
We begin with Old-Fashioned Donuts. Perfectly crisp on the outside, soft like a pillow inside, large donut holes are presented around a ramekin of caramel sauce. The latter is topped with artisan salt that doesn’t bleed through the entire sauce but stays politely in place to accent the sweetness below. My husband describes these donuts as “delicate, sweet, hush puppies” because he’s a softy. I felt guilty starting with indulgences, but not guilty enough to stop myself from inhaling the last pastry. We move on to a CheeseBurger and Huevos Rancheros.
Everyone has their favorite Chicago burger and a few spots are nationally celebrated. Recalling my fave West Loop cheeseburger, I don’t remember it being better than this. The Heritage has chosen a bun that is almost like a brioche, so soft and crumbly. A thick slice of cheese, and a thicker slice of bacon, top a well-seasoned burger complemented by a dill pickle aioli. In the middle of it all, bright warm yoke drips down to the plate. It is served with fries that are perfection – not greasy, not crispy either but a happy in-between. They’re like the potato version of The Heritage’s donuts. Soft, not soggy. Just right.
The Huevos Rancheros are made with black beans, salsa verdo, and queso fresco. It’s a mild mix of latin flavors atop a crispy tortilla that gives the dish a nice touch of needed crunch and texture.
- Drink: Coffee. It’s local and smooth.
- Start: Old-Fashioned Donuts. They’re enough to share. But you won’t want to.
- Brunch: The Cheeseburger. This memorable burger is only offered during brunch service, so take advantage.
Visit The Heritage for happy hour Tuesday – Thursday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m and try the Roasted Oysters.
7403 W. Madison St, Forest Park, IL 60130
Disclosure: Meals were provided by The Heritage. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author, Kari Herrera, and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of The Heritage.