Lunchbreak: Eggplant Benedict

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Manuel Calderon, Executive Chef, The Optima

The Optima

1252 North Wells, Chicago



Monday-Thursday 4 p.m.-12 a.m.

Friday 12 p.m.- 2 a.m.

Saturday 10 a.m.- 3 a.m.

Sunday 10 a.m.-12 a.m.

For more information or reservations go to AND check out the musical guests on their calendar.

LIVE ENTERTAINMENT: Music is a cornerstone of The Optima’s undeniable appeal, and live late-night entertainment will be abundant this summer on the hot spot’s sleek mezzanine level.

THEMED EVENING SPECIALS AND MUSIC: The Optima will offer unique daily specials with accompanying musical themes to compliment Happy Hour offerings:

Monday – The Local Social
The Optima celebrates the local artisans that bring Chicago some its most superior and unique craft beer and spirits. Guests will enjoy drink specials that are created each week to highlight different local artisans, as they listen to tailored playlists from some of Chicago’s best local artists and musicians.

Tuesday – Taco & Tequila Time-Warp
Specialty tacos and tequila shots will be offered at unbeatable prices, and selections will rotate weekly. Throwback jams will take guests back in time as they feast.

Thursday – Bourbon & Boots Party
Special pricing on select bourbon, whiskey and other southern-inspired cocktails is best enjoyed while listening to history’s best southern rock and country anthems!


Eggplant Benedict:



  • Eggplant cut into ½ in thick discs
  • Poached egg
  • Roasted bell pepper hollandaise sauce
  • Eggplant -2 pieces breaded and cook
  • Poached eggs- 2each
  • Lemon Juice (1 tsp)
  • Clarified Butter (1 lb)
  • Pinch of Cayenne
  • -salt to taste
  • -About 2 ounces of warm roasted bell pepper folded into the regular hollandaise
  • Each Benedict will contain about of 1oz of Roasted Bell pepper hollandaise

Panko Mix:

-1 quart of panko mix

-6 sprigs of thyme(trimmed)

-1 tablespoon of chili flake

-2 each lemon zested

-1 tablespoon of salt

(Roubo coupe or vita prep until panko mix is fine)


  • Eggplant:
    • Cut eggplant
    • Put eggplant in salt for 10 minutes, this cuts the bitterness of the eggplant
    • Rinse & pat dry after 10 minutes
    • Coat eggplant in panko mix
      • Panko mix contains thyme, chili flake, lemon zest, panko
    • Deep fry eggplant with panko mix for about 3-4 minutes, until crispy
  • *Use fryer oil any oil just remember every oil has a smoke point, mostly prefer canola oil. If you're using a fryer, the temp should be 350 degrees. If using a pan, fill up about a 1/2 of the half of the pan with oil in low heat
  • Poached Egg:
    • Boil water
      • Add distilled vinegar to water, 1 cup water to an ounce of distilled vinegar
    • Drop cracked egg in boiling water
    • Cook egg for 1 min – 1 ½ min in boiling water
    • Remove egg from water, egg will be delicate
  • Hollandaise sauce – Use a double boiler
    • 3 egg yolks in bowl, whisk
    • Put egg yolks over low heat to temper the egg yolk
    • Add a little bit of clarified butter at a time while mixing the egg yolk over heat
    • Once clarified butter is almost completely mixed with egg yolk, add a small amount of room temp water to mix
    • Mix the rest of the clarified butter into yolk mix until desired thickness is reached
    • Add a dash of cayenne pepper, lemon juice, and salt to mix
    • Fold in roasted red bell pepper puree to mix
      • Roasted red bell pepper puree consists simply of red bell peppers that have been roasted and puree, nothing added.
      • Prep: Roast the peppers over burner until roasted, set aside in a bowl cover with plastic film. Clean and discard the burnt skin, once clean purée in vita prep and reserve.
  • Assembling components:
    • Start with eggplant
    • Stack egg on top
    • Finish with hollandaise
    • Garnish as desired (Optima uses parsley)
    • Add starch if desired (Optima uses roasted potatoes which contains Yukon gold potatoes, rosemary, basil, red onion, red bell pepper, olive oil, salt & pepper)​



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