- Aimee Levitt
- A sign of things to come in Rogers Park?
One sign that a neighborhood is truly gentrified and done for is the presence of a restaurant that serves brunch. (Another is a store that sells handwoven tablecloths and clocks made from old books. And also a dog groomer.) Brunch is for people who would rather go out and pay $15 for something they could just as well assemble at home by scrounging through their refrigerators and pantries without having to bother with getting out of their pajamas. It’s an essentially useless meal, for people who have the money to pay for it and the time to wait in line.
People in Rogers Park take a certain pride in the fact that the neighborhood is not (yet?) completely gentrified and that it remains one of the most diverse in the city. Yes, there are boxy new condos near the lake that make the area look a little shinier than it used to, but it’s still mostly the same mix of immigrants, students, artists, and longtime homeowners that it’s always been. You can buy Bulgarian cheese at the grocery store and hear Haitian creole on the street. There are still plenty of taquerias on Clark Street and Jamaican jerk joints on Howard. Until recently, the only real brunch options were the 70s throwback Heartland Cafe or one of the coffee shops that also serve egg sandwiches.
But would it be OK to have just one place to get an ordinary bourgeois brunch if you were so inclined? Would that be the start of a slippery slope that will eventually clean up and destroy the neighborhood as we know it? (Eula Biss, who is much smarter than I am, wrote an essay about this back in 2008 that’s still applicable.) Anyway, I guess that’s besides the point because the Peckish Pig has been open on Howard since March.
The Peckish Pig is officially a gastropub that brews its own beer on the premises. Like owners Jamie and Debbie Evans’s other property, the Jarvis Square cafe Towbar, its menu has a slight British inflection, with “butties” (sandwiches), sticky toffee pudding, and fish and chips, but mostly it specializes in comforting pub food: flatbreads, burgers, fried chicken, pork belly with mashed potatoes.
- Aimee Levitt
- The scone at the Peckish Pig, still warm, served with butter, jam, and clotted cream.
But it’s a particularly comforting place to go on a weekend morning, where you can settle into a deep plush armchair with a cup of coffee and a crumbly scone with sweet clotted cream or a bag of light, pillowy doughnuts still warm from the fryer and rolled in cinnamon sugar. The main dishes are good, too, particularly the kedgeree, rice mixed with flaked fish and peas and just enough curry to be surprising but not jarring, and the potato cakes, latkes’ less-heavy English cousin.
It’s almost as though it was transported from another neighborhood. (Technically, it is in another neighborhood: it’s on the Evanston side of the street, but close enough that it makes no difference.) But that doesn’t seem such a bad thing, just as long as it remains an addition to Rogers Park, not a harbinger of things to come.
The Peckish Pig, 623 Howard Street, Evanston, 847-491-6778, thepeckishpig.com