Being different can be cool. Take, for example, the hairstyles of middle and high school guys in the 1990’s. If mushroom cuts were playing it safe, then frosted tips made you pretty sweet. At Mortar and Pestle, a daytime only restaurant in Lakeview, they’re not dishing out generic mushroom cuts. Instead, the food options are a little edgy and different, like Nick Lachey in his 98 Degrees prime.
Walking in, you wouldn’t expect anything that interesting to be going on here. Mortar and Pestle looks like it was designed in strict accordance with the Urban Outfitters architecture plan. The look says we want to be non-conforming, but in a conforming, comfortable way. Overall, it works, because this is a nice place to sit for breakfast, brunch, or lunch any day of the week between 8am-3pm (closed on Tuesdays). Things don’t actually get interesting until you look at the menu.
In their own words, Mortar and Pestle serves “globally inspired” food. In our words, the menu is eclectic, to say the least. Not many places offer vanilla pancakes, foie gras and eggs, thai curry coconut soup, and a traditional cubano sandwich all at once. And that’s just a small glimpse of a menu that has a lot of really interesting things going on. Which brings us to an overall point: Mortar and Pestle serves great food, but it might not be ideal for everyone.
What we mean is if you’re looking for a typical breakfast or lunch like plain pancakes, an omelette, or turkey sandwich, you’re not going to find it here. There are a few items like avocado toast, biscuits and gravy, and a patty melt that keep it simple, but overall, everything has a little spunk. Is french toast available? Yes, but it's one gigantic piece with a foie gras torchon on top.
So consider Mortar and Pestle for your next daytime meal. You don't want to go through all of life with frosted tips, but it's a cool look to try on.
Avocado toast. Perhaps you're familiar with it? Plenty of the green stuff here.
An excellent muesli, and one of the best we've had. The house granola, nuts, and fruit mix together well, but it's the brûléed bananas that give it an extra bit of sweetness and make it great.
This dish is seriously rich and decadent, and it's probably better to share than eat yourself. A plate of scrambled eggs comes with truffle carpaccio, foie gras, crème fraîche, chive, and a side of toast. There's a lot of foie gras, and a lot of truffle.
The thickest single piece of french toast you've ever seen with a foie gras torchon, bacon powdered sugar, and maple syrup. It has a crispy edge with soft, bread-like inside. It's interesting, but not necessarily something you have to try. A good extra dish for sharing.
A typical english brekafast with two eggs, tomato, beans, sausage, and a country pâté. This is as basic as you'll get here.
An Alaskin king crab benedict topped with poached egg, sriracha hollandaise, and watercress. There's a lot of crab on these, so you get what you pay for. Get a side of potatoes to go with it.
The name is not misleading. A grilled cheese with tallegio, comte, and cheddar cheese, plus avocado, tomato, and bacon.
Every now and then we find ourselves craving a patty melt, and if you find yourself in that position, Mortar and Pestle does a good one.