The Lunch and Brunch Bunch

Midday meals just may be the new dinner as restaurants unveil new menus

Warm weather has finally arrived (it's here to stay, right?), which means we all want to spend as much time in the sun as possible. Check out these new lunch and brunch offerings at Chicago dining destinations, which just might be the incentive you need to get out of the office (or bed) a little earlier.

You know it's summer when Lincoln Park's North Pond starts its lunch service, which will begin on Wednesday, June 3. The rustic-meets-modern setting of the restaurant perfectly complements chef Bruce Sherman's simple lunch dishes, which let the seasonal ingredients shine. Try such entrees as seared lamb leg medallions paired with a lentil-and-lamb cassoulet with baby carrots, peppers, onions and breadcrumbs while looking out over the park grounds -- your lunch hour will never be the same. North Pond's lunch menu will be served Tuesday through Friday from 11:30AM-1:30PM into October.

Speaking of lunch, if you're looking for a tasty grab-and-go option for a picnic, on the patio or even at your desk (bummer), check out the new artisanal sandwich menu at Eno in the InterContinental Chicago on Michigan Avenue. The new offerings, which will debut Monday, June 1 and will be available from 10AM-2PM Monday through Friday, include such hearty meat-and-cheese combos as coppa and aged gruyere with apple-and-onion chutney on pretzel bread; and hickory-smoked turkey and goat cheddar with whole-grain mustard. Each are priced at $7.50.

If your weekdays are jam-packed, make a reservation for Sunday brunch (nothing guarantees an early weekend morning better). Soak up the sun on Citizen Bar's multilevel patio while enjoying a new brunch menu served Sundays from 11AM-3PM, including such comfort food faves as steak and eggs with hashbrowns ($10); chilaquiles with white corn tortilla chips, chipotle salsa, scrambled eggs and sour cream ($8); and Amaretto French toast made with brioche, vanilla creme anglaise, cherries and apricots ($8).

The recently reopened La Tache bistro in Andersonville has introduced its new Sunday brunch menu, which is served each week from 10AM-2:30PM. The 20-seat outdoor patio offers a perfect perch for a summer weekend morning complemented by such indulgent French-American dishes as crab cake Benedict with two poached eggs, brioche and potatoes with hollandaise sauce ($12); "gougere," a baked white cheddar pastry puff served with scrambled eggs, leek confit, spinach, truffled asparagus puree and pistachios ($11); and a croque madame sandwich with rosemary ham and gruyere, served with two eggs and potatoes ($10).

Brunch gets musical accompaniment at Old Town Brasserie's new Live Jazz Sunday Brunch served every week from 11AM-3PM. Executive chef Andy Motto has created a French-accented menu showcasing seasonal ingredients. Start your day with a la carte entrees such as a smoked salmon crepe ($9); a poached farm egg with Alaskan king crab, bernaise sauce and brioche ($12); or an omelet of the day ($8) while listening to live jazz piano. And then it's time for a nap, preferrably in a hammock somewhere.

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