Eggy’s Diner (Chicago): A restaurateur listens to the people when creating the menu at her neighborhood spot

Angling to be the "neighborhood kitchen," Eggy's Diner in Lakeshore East offers both wholesome, fresh takes on diner classics and healthy, modern fare. Photo by Alex Janowski

When people talk, Sue Kim-Drohomyrecky listens.

Kim-Drohomyrecky  and her husband-partner Peter Drohomyrecky opened Eggy’s, their “urban family diner,” in April.  And at customer request, she and her team have already been tinkering with the menu at this new Lakeshore East neighborhood gathering spot.

“There are some places where you do plant your flag — this is who we are, this is where we go, this is what we do,” says Kim-Drohomyrecky, who also owns the upscale eateries Custom House Tavern and Maison, a new French brasserie.  But Eggy’s Diner, which serves casual and comforting fare, isn’t one of them.

Sue Kim-Drohomyrecky (shown here with husband-partner Peter Drohomyrecky) listens to her clientele, and she has tweaked Eggy's menu according to her customers' requests. Photo courtesy of Eater Chicago

“We’re evolving, and that’s the nature of the restaurant — because we’re the neighborhood kitchen,” Kim-Drohomyrecky says.

And the neighborhood includes the empty nesters, young families and urban professionals who live in this urban oasis just north of Millennium Park as well as the office workers and tourists who frequent the diner.

So in addition to classic and contemporary twists on omelets, sandwiches, burgers and other deli dishes, Eggy’s now offers  miso soup, fish tacos, black bean falafel sandwiches and more.  The additions “reflect the preferences of the neighborhood,” Kim-Drohomyrecky says.

The neighbors also wanted a place where they could regularly go for dinner as well as breakfast and lunch.  So on Monday, Kim-Drohomyrecky launched an evening menu that includes a selection of Eggy’s breakfast and lunch items, four dinner entrées and a daily comforting and classic “Blue Plate Special.”

Popular The Verb Omelet was inspired by triathlete Andy Verb, who specially requested this veggie dish. Photo by Alex Janowski

Kim-Drohomyrecky has learned that listening to people can pay off.  Take Eggy’s top-selling The Verb Omelet ($11.50).  It appeared on the menu via special request by Andy Verb, a triathlete who prefers egg-white omelets with spinach and jalapenos.  The Verb also includes avocado, Swiss cheese and a side of freshly made salsa.

“In the sense of the word ‘kitchen,’ [Andy] created the dish,” Kim-Drohomyrecky says.

The mother of two boys, 10 and 12, Kim-Drohomyrecky says she spent years looking for a restaurant that caters to busy modern people and their families.  With Eggy’s, she created precisely the eatery — with its mix of healthy eats and naughty treats — she had been searching for.  The diner specializes in food “that is honest, not fancy, but is really good,” she says.

“I wanted a place that is an extension of my own kitchen, where I’d cook for myself or my children….   [Our food] is prepared as carefully as if I were preparing it at home.”

For those who want to be good, Eggy's offers items such as kale and quinoa salad. Photo by Alex Janowski

Although I’m not technically a neighbor, I recently stopped by Eggy’s for lunch with my friend and fellow food writer Jax of Jax House.  Since there were only two of us checking out the menu, Jax and I had no choice but to put our respective diets on hold in the interest of research.

Sure, we could have “been good” and opted for, say, house-made granola with Greek yogurt and seasonal fruit ($4.50) or kale and quinoa salad ($7.25/$9.25).  Instead, we decided to be bad — really bad, which Kim-Drohomyrecky says is quite normal.

“Either people go all in or not,” she says.  Jax and I were “all in.”

We started on the breakfast side of the menu with Peter and the Wolf ($10.50), a potato, fennel, carrot and pastrami hash topped with the two most perfect sunny-side up eggs Jax and I had ever seen.  The dish, with its mix of veggies, carbs and protein, evoked an all-American version of Chinese fried rice.  The accompanying side of horseradish-tinged sour cream added additional zing.

Mexican-style Green Eggs & Ham is much more appetizing than Dr. Seuss' version of the dish. Photo by Alex Janowski

Green Eggs & Ham ($9.50) bore no resemblance to the dish Sam I Am aggressively pushed in the Dr. Seuss children’s classic.  Here, fluffy Anson Mills grits formed the foundation of a Mexican-style casserole that also featured baked eggs, smoky-spicy house-made Tasso ham, creamy avocado, pickled onion and queso fresco nesting under a blanket of tomatillo salsa.

Jax and I pushed on.  Skipping over scores of interesting-sounding breakfast goodies — pancakes, cornmeal waffles, etc. — we jumped over to the lunch items, where the whitefish sandwich ($10.50) hooked us.  Inspired by the Filet-O-Fish (no lie), Eggy’s version easily whups McDonald’s classic fishwich.

Fortunately, Eggy’s eschews processed square fish patties on pasty white buns.  Instead, Jax and I got a thick slab of batter-dipped-and-fried, boneless whitefish sitting atop an airy roll.  Cabbage and onion slaw provided crunch, while gooey melted cheddar cheese and sweet house-made tartar sauce added extra decadence.

Coconut layer cake is a slice of heaven. Photo by Alex Janowski

Then we moved on to dessert.

I secretly willed Jax to order banana cream pie.

Obviously not telepathic, Jax picked a lightly salted, fudgy sea-salt brownie ($4.50).

I went with Southern-style coconut cake ($6.50).  This dreamy layering of fluffy white cake, smooth buttercream and sweet, flaky coconut provided a sweet end to a beautiful day in this neighborhood.

Eggy’s Diner
333 Benton Place, Suite 103
Chicago, Illinois  60601

Eggy's Diner on Urbanspoon

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2 Responses to Eggy’s Diner (Chicago): A restaurateur listens to the people when creating the menu at her neighborhood spot

  1. Jacky says:

    I am dreaming of that white fish sandwich. And I wish I had heard you willing me to order the banana cream pie. I’ll do better next time.

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