By Melissa Wiley in Food on Apr 30, 2012 6:00PM
Eggy’s goes to some pains to disclaim that its name is not a reference to eggs per se, but to a certain Robert Mallin’s lovably egg-shaped head. Mallin apparently embodies what Eggy’s, the homespun brainchild of the owners of Custom House Tavern, wishes to bring to this highrise-heavy lakeshore east neighborhood: the camaraderie, warmth, and easy conversation characteristic of 1960s sitcoms and their diners. After struggling to actually find this perky piece of nostalgia along an almost covert corridor adjacent to Millennium Park, we left behind some arctic spring winds for a vibrant interior that did in fact smell largely of eggs. Fortunately, we were craving an omelet and Eggy’s obliged with neighborly gusto.
Once greeted by our passably folksy waitress, we ordered an iced tea and the inexplicably named "verb" omelet, which consisted of egg whites, avocado, Swiss cheese, spinach, and jalapeno and came with a helping of salsa and potatoes. We also opted for pumpernickel toast on the side, mostly because we just like saying “pumpernickel” more than “wheat.” Squeezed cozily up at the counter amid the weekday lunch rush, we observed several parties of what we technically term “business people” crossing the threshold only to depart soon after, all too keenly aware that “lunch hour” is an overly optimistic phrase, and Eggy’s was in demand that day.
When our food arrived, our empty stomachs were raring for some quick and dirty digestion, so we planned to have only sweet nothings to say about our findings regarding the "verb." In complete honesty, however, we would more probably term the omelet the “preposition,” because it lacked the dynamism that is the verb’s birthright in grammarian circles. It was, in other words, noticeably short on the promised fixings to set off the egg whites. Had it in fact been an action verb, transitive if you will, we would have considered the transaction at the end of the meal a reasonable exchange and ourselves the happy direct object. But such was not the case, though we give the kitchen credit for keeping a full house of customers looking fairly happy, in spite of the paucity of the promised spinach and avocado.
Sliding off our stool $16 poorer, we couldn’t shake the feeling that Eggy’s might be overselling its vintage charm. That, or we really needed to drop the eggs and order something more Chicago 2012 and less Mayberry 1961, something like kale and quinoa salad with red wine vinaigrette, toasted walnuts, apple, and agro dolce onions, which appears on the lunch rather than the all-day breakfast menu. We also realize that if we worked around the corner instead of a mile and a half or so away, the urban retro diner shtick alone would be enough to lure us back in, if only to break up the corporate routine and remind us how much we like black and white TV. No one makes us laugh quite like Don Knotts in The Andy Griffith Show, so hats off to Eggy and his oblong head for at least making us smile.
Eggy's is located at 333 E. Benton Place, Suite 103, 312-878-1222. Open Mon-Fri: 6:30 a.m. - 9 p.m., Sat-Sun: 7:30 a.m. - 9 p.m.