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Bread Pudding Revival

Local restaurants put a modern twist on this classic dessert.
Monday May 17, 2010.     By Erica Walkup
Centerstage Chicago Nightlife City Guide Arts

Bread pudding French toast at Prairie GrassBread pudding French toast at Prairie Grass.

What if it were socially acceptable to eat your favorite dessert for breakfast? If that dessert is chocolate cake or ice cream, you're probably out of luck. But if you find yourself ordering bread pudding every time the dessert menu comes, look no further than these Chicago-area restaurants. From booze-infused desserts to sweet and savory breakfast items, you can satisfy your bread pudding craving any way — and any time — you want.

Bread pudding French toast at Prairie Grass Cafe and The Bristol
There are two types of brunch people in the world: savory lovers and sweet tooths. For the latter, there's the decadent bread pudding French toast at Prairie Grass in Northbrook. Chef/owner Sarah Stegner says the dish ($10) is made with pecan cinnamon coffee cake that is cut into pieces and baked with custard. Once cool, it is sliced and sautéed until the outside is golden brown and served with warm maple syrup. For city dwellers, the dessert-like bread pudding French toast at The Bristol features dried apricots, bourbon-spiked whipped cream and syrup from Spence Farm in Fairbury, Ill. ($10).

Savory bread pudding at Xoco
Early risers are in for a treat at Rick Bayless' Xoco. One of the stars of the casual Mexican eatery's breakfast menu is the savory bread pudding ($3.50), only served until 10 a.m. Made with migas (the interiors of the bread used for the tortas), the dish starts with a custard base combined with house-cured ham from Maple Creek Farm in Michigan, artisan jack cheese and poblano peppers. Topped with bacon crumbles, the pudding is baked until soft and moist and garnished with queso añejo and cilantro. Best of all, the dish is small enough that you'll still have room for a couple of Xoco's mouthwatering churros.

PB&J Wonder Bread pudding at Hearty
In keeping with their style of turning classic comfort foods into modern masterpieces, the Hearty Boys recently reintroduced a peanut butter and jelly bread pudding to their dessert menu. Made in muffin tins, the dish starts with Wonder bread, sweet egg custard, peanut butter maple cream, cream cheese custard and a black pepper and red wine strawberry jam. After baking, it is served with salty peanut cream and syrah syrup for $8. If you're lucky, you may also get to try the butternut squash bread-pudding appetizer (with truffled Havarti fondue and a grilled veggie skewer), which is sometimes offered as a special.

Piña colada bread pudding at Coobah
This popular Southport Corridor restaurant puts a Latin twist on all of its dishes and cocktails, and dessert is no exception. Served warm in a square baking dish, Coobah's piña colada bread pudding ($7) is flavored with spiced pineapple, coconut cream and Bacardi coconut rum. Topped with toasted coconut ice cream and a fresh strawberry, the result is fruity, satisfying — and the perfect size for two. Take your indulgence even further with a cappuccino, glass of Spanish wine or the restaurant's signature mojito.

Porter bread pudding at Fountainhead
For a restaurant with more than two-dozen beers on tap, it's no wonder that some of it has ended up in the dessert. For $7, the porter bread pudding at this new Ravenswood hot spot starts with rye, French and sourdough bread from nearby La Farine Bakery, which gets soaked in eggs, heavy cream and Left Hand Black Jack Porter from Longmont, Colo.'s Left Hand Brewing Co. In case one beer wasn't enough, the unique dessert also features a caramel sauce made with Three Floyds' Robert The Bruce Scottish Ale. Executive chef Robyn Marfurt recommends any porter, IPA or stout to complement this beer-lovers' treat.


Explore More

Bars & Clubs

Brand-New Bars

Brand-New Bars

Get divey on Grace; go downstairs at River North's Curio.

Food & Dining

New Restaurants

New Restaurants

Go Dutch at Vincent and satisfy a familiar sweet tooth at BomBon.

What's Happening Today
  • Fat Cat
    $15 buckets of Bud, Bud Light, High Life, and Miller Lite
  • Eve
    $20 for brunch entree and mimosas
  • Four Treys Tavern
    $2.50 PBR
  • Durty Nellie's
    $10 buckets of Bud and Budlight, $9.50 pitchers of Great Lakes Burning River, Great Lakes Commodore Perry and Goose Island Honkers Ale
  • Motel Bar
    $5 Skyy cocktails, $5 Martin Miller cocktails and $5 Guinness
  • J.T's Porch
    $5 Absolut, $4 Bacardi, Jack Daniels, Jim Beam, Captain Morgan
  • Tuman's
    $3.50 Point Pale Ale drafts, $2 PBR drafts, $3 Jameson, Gentleman Jack and Jim Beam Black shots (available only during post-season Hawks games)
  • Sterch's
    $3 Effen vodka; $3 Heineken