Baby-on-Board Review: The Bongo Room

By Elizabeth Shapiro in Food on Aug 22, 2007 3:00PM

2007_08_BongoRoom.jpgOh, how we wished we would have spent more time at the Bongo Room before we had our baby. This trendy Wicker Park eatery, famous for its sugary brunch specials, lives up to the hype. Taking a child to eat there, however, requires some savings and a bit of strategy.

First, the food is as rumored: tasty, sweet dishes make up a good portion of the menu. We tried their chocolate French toast ($10.75, pictured), a tower of chocolate bread swimming in maple marscapone and chunks of bananas. Although we were hungry, we just couldn't finish this massive dish; we wish had been given half as much for two-thirds of the price. There wasn’t a kids’ menu, but our child was placated with a fantastic fruit plate of pears, apples, bananas, oranges and strawberries ($3.25) as well as a side dish of spicy Thai ginger chicken sausage ($3.50).

2007_08_ChocolateToast.jpgThe Bongo Room doesn't open until 9 a.m., a bit on the late side compared to other brunch hotspots, and perhaps tough for parents whose kids wake up on the early side. We almost went home when we arrived a bit early to be greeted by a lengthy line of people waiting to get in, and there were several families waiting when we left a half hour later. Thankfully, the Bongo Room's kitchen is a model of efficiency, and their wait staff is top notch; we were seated quickly, and everyone's food began arriving within moments.

Here's where the strategy aspect comes in. The Bongo Room, clearly a popular spot, has crammed in their tables to maximize capacity. This is not a place to lug your jogging stroller. Since Chicagoist strives to ensure that all who are enjoying their meals around our child can actually do so, we spent a good amount of time reining in our toddler’s breakfast, as well as his extremities, so that they would not end up in others’ coffee mugs.

The Bongo Room is the place to go to satiate your sweet morning cravings, but there might be better places to bring your squirming toddler on a busy weekend.

We visited their location at 1470 N. Milwaukee, whose hours are 8 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday; 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. There's another Bongo Room location in the south loop at 1152 S. Wabash. Their website is under construction as of this posting.