Table Fifty-Two

Chicken and waffles at Table Fifty-Two (Jason Little/For RedEye / June 19, 2012)

Table Fifty-Two
52 W. Elm St. 312-573-4000
Rating: !!! 1/2 (out of 4)
Brunch times: 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday
Reservations: Required

Forbes recently released its list of the world’s most powerful celebrities. Lady Gaga is first, Oprah is second, and they both love Art Smith’s Gold Coast restaurant Table Fifty-Two. Famous for his refined takes on Southern recipes, Smith launched Sunday brunch last month. Following in the footsteps of these legendary ladies, I made a reservation and prepared to indulge, Southern-style.

Server says: She recommends the short ribs and grits ($31), the egg-white omelet with asparagus, mushrooms and heirloom tomatoes ($16), and the crab cake ($21), the restaurant’s spin on eggs Benedict.

We say: Sure, Art Smith is looking pretty svelte these days thanks to his “healthy lifestyle,” but I didn’t come to his house to eat an egg-white omelet. The crab cake dish deconstructs a traditional Benedict and pairs a perfect crab cake with a split biscuit, poached egg, remoulade and fennel tucked underneath.

About those waffles: Surely you’ve seen Gaga’s tweets about Smith’s chicken and waffles. Every other diner in the place seems to be shelling out $24 for them. I wasn’t thrilled about the price, but it’s true: They’re the best I’ve had, with a waffle that’s almost pastry-like and that ridiculously crispy chicken that’s bathed in buttermilk and dredged in herbs before hitting the fryer.

Sideshow: Every single one of the side dishes looks tempting, but the prices ($8-$12) will keep you from going overboard. Order a few for the table and share bites to make your brunch even more indulgent. A monstrous chocolate cinnamon roll ($12) gets more fudgy as you reach the center, but for that much dough, we prefer the bacon doughnuts (also $12, pictured), little bites of heaven sprinkled with smoky chunks of bacon. Smith’s famous three-cheese mac ($12) is crusty, bubbly and insanely cheesy in the best way possible.

Day drinking: Not especially kicky, we’d pass on the pricey bloody mary ($14) next time for the Kentucky champagne ($12), a bubbly bourbon number.

Bottom line: Just like dinner at Table Fifty-Two, Sunday brunch is soulful, decadent … and expensive. This is a special occasion brunch, no question, so start looking ahead on your calendar for a good excuse.