Roister, the Alinea group’s newest restaurant, is located in our old stomping grounds in Fulton Market, so it was on our must-do list for Chicago. Based on our previous experiences at The Aviary and NEXT, we had high expectations going in, and Roister definitely delivered with a delicious brunch.
Unlike any of the other Alinea group restaurants, Roister is built around the kitchen, the centerpiece of which is a wood burning hearth. It’s open, spacious, and so meticulously organized that it seemed like more of a high-end food lab than busy kitchen. The playlist, selected personally by the chef, was awesome (everything from old school rap to Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan).
Even though Roister is more approachable than any of the other Alinea restaurants, it is still very modern. The cocktails are clearly complex, but they are served with a minimalist twist in straight, clear glasses with little adornment . “Simon Says: Drink This” looks like a glass of orange juice with ice (it’s actually made with vodka, mango, sweet wine, habanero, spearmint, and lime). “The Roister Mimosa” is a delicious twist on a classic mimosa, made with orange marmalade and brioche syrup (you read that correctly, bread syrup). If you’re looking for a classic bloody mary, try “Billy Pilgrim’s Breakfast,” made with aquavit, tomato, and sherry vinegar. Instead of horseradish, this cocktail gets its spicy kick from togarashi.
We can’t turn down a beet salad, especially one with beets roasted in tangerines, with endive and our favorite Point Reyes Blue Cheese (order yours here). We shared biscuits and gravy, which we ordered specifically because the server told us they were vegetarian and we were intrigued. These were probably our favorite thing we ate. The eggs are roasted on the hearth, and served with a green tomato ragout. The flavors were complex with shishito peppers. We didn’t miss the meat. This is a dish for sure that anyone should order for brunch!
One of the most popular items on the menu is the fried chicken sandwich, made with sunchoke hot sauce and chamomile mayo. It was super delicious, and we were perplexed by how something made with fried chicken could taste rich and light at the same time.
We finished our lunch with the foie gras candy bar. You may have heard of the The Aviary’s Snickers bar, but they’ve created Roister’s own version. The foie gras is made into a “nougat” filling, and then topped with marshmallows, pretzels, chocolate, and sea salt. The salty sweet combination was perfect. It’s like a normal candy bar, but on another level.
We’ll be back here next time we are in Chicago for sure! Tip: Lunch a la carte reservations are slightly easier to get and don’t require a deposit.