On my first night in Chicago, my sister recommended Café Too as a good neighbourhood breakfast option. Man, am I glad I paid attention to that recommendation. Both meals I've had at the café have been delicious and economical. And besides the great food, eating at Café Too supports a great cause. With their motto of "Dine Well. Do Good.", it's one of a few establishments in Chicago designed and operated to treat the symptoms of the homelessness epidemic, under the auspices of the Inspiration Corporation.
The "do good" part comes about by the café training and employing the homeless, at-risk youth, and other unemployed under their Culinary Arts program, both front and back of house. I can tell you, the service I had on my two visits was stellar; extremely friendly, professional and efficient. Students are mentored by the two head chefs at the restaurant, as well as by recent top graduates. Newer students also have the opportunity to shadow final year students. My apologies for the sound quality, but I had a chance to talk with Ann, a front of house employee and graduate of the program, about the history, present and future of the Inspiration Corporation's culinary initiatives.
Ann from Café Too talks about the program
Now, to the "dine well" part. They seem to have nailed this as well. The breakfast sandwich I had earlier in the week was perfectly executed, though, in retrospect, I should have selected good old cheddar as my cheese option. And I highly recommend the honey vanilla latte.
When I went back from their weekend brunch, I was torn between the caprese benny and my eventual choice of the sweet potato pecan pancakes with a honey crème anglaise. Zoh. Mah. God. Rich, creamy, yet still fluffy and not overly sweet, these pancakes had it going on. There was an almost cream cheese like texture and flavour that was beautifully punctuated by the pecans. Every element of this dish was on point. The thin and crisp slices of side bacon were just perfect too.
If you're ever in Chicago, or if you live there, but haven't explored Uptown, Café Too is well worth a visit to this... colourful neighbourhood. You'll be greeted warmly and fed well. Tell 'em I sent you.
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