For as long as I can remember, which isn't long, the focus of American cuisine has trended in two decipherable and opposite directions: (1) cooking and eating more healthily, and (2) extreme flavor indulgence at, sometimes, the expense of good health. It could be the lack of necessity (I haven’t yet eclipsed the quarter-century mark), or maybe it is the way I was raised (my dad served many a bacon-wrapped bratwurst for brunch), but I’ve found over the years that food trends rooted wholly in maximizing flavor and deliciousness have held my attention far better than the ones that purport to keep my cholesterol down.
I was in Franks ‘N’ Dawgs recently (and later in Epic Burger and later in the Old Town Pub) when I picked up on a menu option that seems to have become the latest tasty-but-not-particularly-healthy food trend: the fried egg topper. As a topping, the fried egg really stands alone. Unlike traditional toppings – cheese, chopped peppers or onions, condiments – which work subtly, the fried egg is loud and, in the eyes of some, objectionable as it transforms modest dishes into barely-finishable protein heavyweights.
All health jokes aside, the fried egg lends more to what it is topping than just an inflated calorie count. A running yolk, for example, adds a nice bit of texture to an otherwise traditional hamburger or plate of noodles, while a tender white works very well with most cuts of steak. The natural flavor of the egg, on the other hand, is palatable and steady enough to contribute positively to a dish, but not so potent that it intrudes on or overpowers other key ingredients. Really, there are a number of reasons that an egg, although unconventional, works well as a topping, but I’m not sure any of them account as much for its sudden popularity as the simple fact that it is delicious.
If you’ve never bothered to top an ordinary dish with a fried egg, I suggest you do. Similarly, next time you are dining out and see the option of a fried egg topper on the menu, go ahead and order it. To make it easier for you, I've compiled a list below, which details a few of Chicago’s more popular and more bizarre egg-topped dishes.
Just know that the stomach ache will eventually subside, you only get to live once, and you can make up for the extra calories when you don’t order dessert.
Heck, order dessert too.
1. Franks ‘N’ Dawgs, 1863 N Clybourn, Lincoln Park
Brunch Dawg ($8.50) Slagel farms pork loin breakfast sausage with Cobb smoked bacon, fried egg & drizzled with maple mayo
2. Old Oak Tap, 2109 W Chicago Avenue, Ukranian Village
Fat Boy Pie ($11.00) BBQ Pork Shoulder, aged Wisconsin cheddar cheese, tomatoes, black olives, mashed potatoes, spicy fries, green goddess dressing, topped with a fried egg
3. Crisp, 2940 N Broadway, Lakeview
Original Bad Boy Buddha Bowl ($8.95) Eight different freshly marinated and/or sauteed chilled vegetables [spinach, bean sprouts, carrots, zucchini, cucumbers, mushrooms, moo (Korean radish), corn] on a bed of rice and topped off with a fried egg. Served with Buddha bowl sauce (Gochujang).
4. Old Town Pub, 1339 N Wells, Old Town
Division Street Burger ($10.00) Served with jalapenos, onions, goat cheese, fried egg, and chipotle mayo
Also check out…
5. Paddy Long’s, 1028 W Diversey, Lakeview
The Paddy Panini ($10.95) Irish sausage, Irish bacon, and cheddar topped with a fried egg
PS. – The boss would like to add something about spices. If you are just frying eggs at home, our house favorites are Lake Shore Drive Seasoning, Pepper-Lemon Seasoning, and the eye opening Vulcan's Fire Salt!