Breakfasts and Beds: The W and The James, Chicago
644 North Lakeshore Drive
++1 312 943 9200
55 E Ontario St
++1 800 745 8883
by Shreddie Kruger
Americans approach breakfast with the gusto us Brits reserve for grumbling about the weather and joining promising looking queues. So when choosing a hotel in America the only important factor is what their breakfast is like. Everything else is insignificant. A hotel with no beds and rats scurrying around is fine by me if it serves a sensational breakfast.
So… if you are visiting Chicago you must avoid the W at all costs. Their room service breakfasts had me seething with irritation. Not only does a modest breakfast of muffins, tea, juice and granola cost $33, but it also comes without milk, is wrapped in Clingfilm and is utterly miserable. Their cooked breakfast is more expensive. And to make matters worse… worse. Eggs are over cooked and lack the illicit trickling of yolk that we all need to set our days off on the right track. I left the W vowing never to return.
With the W spurned the James stepped in. The contrast couldn’t have been more stark. Breakfast is served in David Burke’s Primehouse restaurant, at the base of the hotel, where they age their beef for up to 90 days in a room clad in Himalayan salt. So expectations were high. On the first day my enormous blueberry pancakes with maple sauce instantly turned me into the Cheshire Cat. I giggled all the way to our meeting and spent the rest of morning flying on a sugar high until I spiraled out of control with a migraine as the syrup wore off!
The next morning things got silly. Not content with eggs Benedict, I couldn’t resist ordering a dish titled “fill your own doughnuts”. How could you? It’s impossible. A small cardboard box arrived filled with sugared, hot doughnuts the size of golf balls and two squirty pipettes laced with vanilla cream and butterscotch. Wow. Now, this is what breakfast is all about. Before you could say the word “coronary” I had filled two doughnuts full of gunge and was running around the restaurant like a banshee who’s just injected taurine into his eyeballs.
So if you are on a business trip to Chicago go to the James and make the most of their stupendously good breakfast. And avoid the W at all costs – they put the W into Woeful.