Circa 33 Brunch

Circa 33 on SE Belmont is probably most  known for in the evening as a neighborhood Prohibition-themed cocktail bar. But, did you know they also offer an al fresco dining alley area, and on weekends by the restrooms when the red light is on, host a speakeasy type bar? And don’t overlook the additional hidden gem of its weekend brunch, served 10 AM – 2 PM, featuring a curated list of dishes which include several vegetarian and vegan friendly options and of course, cocktails. Today I share my brunch visit, and here’s a look at the secret speakeasy – which will be put to good use on a Prohibition Party in a couple weeks!
Circa 33 interior during the day. Circa 33 is a Prohibition-themed cocktail bar and on Fri Sat boasts a hidden speakeasy - look for the light to be on - and you can enter past a bookcase door with a special code Circa 33 brunch, Bloody Mary c.1921 with vodka, summer-spiced bloody blend, creole-salt rim and choice of bacon/veggie/combo garnish

The name Circa 33 is a nod to the neighborhood street block they are on (SE 33rd block on Belmont) as well as the year prohibition was repealed, 1933. Their cocktails are a mix of drinks from the late 1800s and early 1900s as well as more current inventions that follow the framework of spirit, sugar, citrus, and bitters. You’ll see a dozen options of specialty cocktails. If you are not into cocktails, not to worry – they have almost a dozen wines by the glass and smaller selection of beer, and non-alcoholic beverages like a ginger limeade. Below, you’ll see the Circa 33 cocktail, The Huntress which is c.1937 with Effen vodka, bubbles, black currant, citrus, Becherovka herbal liqueur
Circa 33 is a Prohibition-themed cocktail bar. This Circa 33 cocktail, The Huntress is c.1937 with Effen vodka, bubbles, black currant, citrus, Becherovka herbal liqueur
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What has Pech been eating?

Aw, what a crappy summer day. I woke up in the very early hours because there was so much thunder. It is still wet and grey and gloomy and humid out there. I was going to see Batman (and walk all the way over there), but I will skip that and just go straight to my tea meeting.

Tea meeting? That's right, there's a group of a few girls meeting for tea at the W. I thought it sounded intriguing: "Think afternoon tea is only complete with miniature watercress sandwiches and white-gloved service for dainty ladies? Think again! WAVE restaurant is redefining afternoon tea by tempting both girls and guys to partake in a "Uni-Tea" experience beginning April 30th, 2008. Sure you'll find tea, but you'll also find tea-infused vodka elixirs (Mar-TEA-nis), plenty of bubbly and a selection of hand-crafted brews in the form of beer for the boys.WAVE's resident "Spice Girl"" Executive Chef Kristine Subido, has created The Teatotaler, a selection of savory and sweet bites to satisfy any appetite.

For $30 per person, The Teatotaler menu includes: A selection of five savory small bites (guest choose either the "Gals" or "Guys" menu); sweets accompanied by Devonshire cream, lemon curd and jam; an individual pot of hot tea (13 varieties are offered from green, oolong and herbal blends) or an iced tea of the day. Here are my pics: I had the Gals and three pots of my Coco Truffle tea! Since it was grey it was actually a good setting for some hot tea.


Tempting bites include a choice of one savory option (Gals or Guys) and Sweets:


Gals: Brie, basil and roasted tomato grilled brioche; Smoked salmon and roasted fennel cannolli; Bleu cheese and red grape cannolli; Chilled shrimp and cucumber salad on rosemary bread; Curry deviled eggs


Guys: Beef tartar toasts with white truffle drizzle; Grilled beef tenderloin and dried fruit chutney; Mini Angus beef sliders with bread and butter pickles; Sea salt and parmesan frites with lemon aioli; and Serrano ham, quince and manchego grilled brioche

Sweets: Macaroons- sea salt and caramel, lemon, chocolate and berr; Scones- butter and orange-vanilla; Madeleine- vanilla and orange zest; Market fresh fruit tarts; Tea cakes- lemon-poppy seed and chocolate chip

And for the non-teetotaller, the following beverage additions are available to The Teatotaler experience:

– Mar-TEA-ni – Choose from Raspberry Nectar, White Ginger Pear or Citrus Mint tea-infused elixirs paired with Grey Goose Vodka for an extra $10 per person.

– Bubbly TEA – Add a little life to your tea party and enjoy a glass of Moet Chandon White Star or Schramsberg Rose for an extra $12 per person.

– Masculini-TEA – A different kind of brew for the boys! Enjoy one of a selection of four handcrafted beers like Goose Island Matilda or Chimay Triple for an extra $8 per person."



In other food news, I visited Mexique recently based on a write-up in Time Out Chicago, but was not as impressed as I had been expecting from the somewhat rave review (the writer focused on praising the Mexican flavors, even though this is supposedly Mexican French fusion). I did go there their opening week though, so maybe they have worked out some kinks since then- when I went they didn't have an online presence and two weeks later they do, and more write-ups in the local news, and the menu they list some online looks like got some tweaks. Anyway, the first weekend of July, I went for lunch, and I had some tacos (Cochinita Pibil with purple pickle onion and mango habanero couli- all I tasted with the pork and onion, and Duck Leg Confit with roasted onion and pineapple relish- again the meat, this time juicy duck was the main flavor profile and I was expecting a bit more citrus acid from the pineapple relish but this was not bad at all, I would have it again) and also the chorizo, asparagus, and cheddar cheese quiche which turned out to be more egg than kick from chorizo and I wondered where the asparagus was hiding. The chorizo was executed just as a thin layer of meat underneath the quiche crust. Yep. At least it was good exercise since I walked all the way there (a couple mile) to the restaurant, and then from there took myself to Wall E and then walked back to my apartment, which adds up.


I also took myself to brunch at Sepia, which I have been meaning to do for a few months and it's only a 5 minute walk away between my apartment and Steven's. It is not really a cheap brunch (especially considering Lou Mitchell's and Meli's are right around the corner from me), but it had two home runs.  First, there's Sepia's bacon bloody mary: house made celery salt on the brim of a bloody mary, vodka is infused with bacon and the in-house smokey chunky spicy bloody mary mix. Awesome. And it has a good kick! I would have had another if I wasn't already buzzing. To go along with this, I ordered Sepia's humongous smoked salmon brioche sandwich with applewood smoked bacon, gruyere and a side of duck fat crisped potatoes. I also got an additional order of these potatoes and I was not sorry. I think I'd try something else besides the sandwich though- it was too much for me, and although I did like the bread I wanted to taste less bread and more of all the great ingredients inside. They also put in way too many raw onions


And one more meal! I went to Joy Yee's for dinner with my parents on Friday, and then again with my parents and Steven on Sunday. We went to the updated location in new Chinatown, and I had to pose with some of the humongous new offerings this location has (Vietnamese noode bowls, rice bowls with two soft shell crabs or giant prawn, etc). Hee.

My mom loves the Korean bbq beef spare ribs here- they are really a huge portion.