Friday, July 21, 2017

Revist: New Summer Menu at Grand Lux Cafe

"Two words: Hen Night," Brandy said to her good friend Starr. "What does that mean? Are you asking me to go out for fried chicken?" "No, silly, a Hen Night! You know, with cocktails and gossiping and lots of fresh summery nibbles?" "Oh! A Girl's Night Out!" "Right! We call them Hen Nights on my side of the pond." "Gotcha. Where should we go?" "Somewhere downtown with a lovely view so we can people watch. And somewhere with an extensive and varied menu so we have lots of options for snacking. And fantastical drinks, of course. Comfy seating." "Sounds like somewhere we both know very well. Grand Lux Cafe it is!"

And so, Brandy and Starr headed down to the Magnificent Mile, grabbed a prime booth by the window overlooking Michigan Ave, and started off a night of frivolity and a whole lot of inappropriate giggling.

Drinks were in order, of course, to kick everything off. Brandy went with the classic Mai Tai, which she found to be perfectly fruity and delicious. Starr went for the more sophisticated sounding Asian Pear Martini, which she actually found quite sweet and strong, but with a pleasant flavor at the front.

Picking from the new summer items, Brandy and Starr ordered the Tuna Poke Tacos, a delightful fusion of Latin and Asian cuisine. The taco shells were actually deep fried wonton wrappers, which had a brilliant crunch that matched well with the soft and silky filling of tuna, avocado, soy sauce, and sesame seeds. "Now these are the definition of finger-licking good!" said Starr as she finished off the last of her taco. They also ordered the Pot Roast Fries, which Brandy instantly fell in love with. "Tender meat, cheese sauce, and crispy potatoes. This speaks to the most primal part of my soul," she said as she stuffed another handful of fries into her mouth.

Next, to lighten things up, they split one of the new summer salads, which came dressed with roasted pears, strawberries, feta cheese, and almonds, in a balsamic dressing. Brandy has always been a big fan of fruit in her salad, so this mix of sweet, creamy, and crunchy ingredients was just perfect for her.

Starr went for the Fish and Chips as her entree, which also came with a side of peanut coleslaw. The fish was tender and light with a nicely crisp tempura batter. She also liked that the dish came with a side of house made tartar sauce, which combine well with the lashings of vinegar she added to the fish. The slaw was also a nice little surprise, as it had a unique peppery flavor and plenty of crunch.

Brandy went with the new Brie and Bacon Burger. The combination of the melty brie cheese, the smokey bacon, some peppery greens, creamy mayo, and a sweet red onion jam was so utterly perfect in Brandy's mind. Of course, the combination of the sweet and savory flavors was an instant hit, but Brandy also really liked that no one thing really overwhelmed anything else. As a side dish, Brandy
also ordered the Crispy Glazed Brussels Sprouts, which turned out to be the best thing she tried all night. Sweet, a little crisp, savory, and so very delicious, Brandy could have eaten several more servings of these sprouts if she hadn't already indulged in so much deliciousness.

Finally, the ladies wound down their evening out with a pair of coffee cocktails and an order of Warm Butter Cake. The rich and gooey cake was so perfect with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a sprinkling of marinated strawberries as accompaniment. Even though both ladies were full to the brim, they still managed to finish off every last bite of that cake, which is certainly saying something.

"Ah, we need to do this more often!" Brandy sighed with contentment. "Not too often though," said Starr, "Otherwise you're going to have to buy me a gym membership!"

The writers of this blog were invited to dine by the restaurant free of charge in order to facilitate the writing of this post.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Food News: Meet Chef Dana Herbert at Macy's on State Street!

NoteThe writers of this blog have been compensated by Everywhere Agency for the information contained in this post, but the opinions stated were not influenced.

Bunny has once again returned to the surface for a breath of fresh air, and this time she is coming back into Chicago with a mission. "My sweet tooth is itching," she texted Brandy, "and that means something exciting must be about to take place. You know I don't usually just start craving sugar out of the blue."

In fact, Brandy didn't think this out of the ordinary at all. She was rather used to Bunny's near psychic ability in sensing when there is good food to be had. Knowing better than to take her friend's instincts lightly, Brandy began researching, and quickly realized that there was indeed something exciting on the horizon. "Your sweet tooth never fails," she text Bunny, "Seems Chef Dana Herbert is hosting a big-to-do at Macy's. Can you get to Chicago by next week?" "I'm already at the airport," was Bunny's quick reply.

Bunny had been a fan of Chef Herbert ever since his big win on Cake Boss: Next Great Baker, where he first demonstrated his knowledge, artistry, and passion for pastry to the public. But it's not just the sweets Chef Herbert is good at; he is also trained in culinary arts, meaning he can pretty much handle anything thrown in his direction. His cookbook, Sweet and Savory Union, therefore could not be a more perfect for Bunny and Brandy, who live their lives by the principles of finding the perfect balance between savory and sweet.

On July 28th at 12pm, Chef Herbert will host a free fun-filled event in the Culinary Council test kitchen on the 7th floor of Macy's on State, where he will demonstrate some of his favorite award winning dishes and serve them to the gathered crowd before heading down to the lower level to sign cookbooks and hobnob with foodie fans (you can even get one of Chef Herbert's cookbooks as a free gift by making a $35 purchase from the Macy's Home Department the day of). Anyone can attend the free demo by RSVPing in advance by calling 1-800-329-8667. For more information on the event, please visit and to learn more about the Macy's Culinary Council and all future events, please click here

Friday, July 14, 2017

The Blanchard or Sunday in the Park with Brandy

The Slow and Savory Review

Photo from Time Out
It was a quiet Sunday morning and Brandy was sitting on a bench, feeding pigeons with crumbs from her day old scones. Across the way, she spotted an intriguing figure, also seated on a bench, but uninterested in the pigeons. The woman was dressed all in black, from her skin tight leggings, to her long sleeved turtle neck, to the beret that sat jauntily atop her mop of flaming red hair. In one hand, she held a cigarette, which was trailing a thin stream of smoke into the wind, and the other hand held a paperback copy of The Stranger in front of her face. "That's a lovely book," Brandy called to the woman, "Though I do think the narrator gets a bit pouty at times." The woman lowered her book and took a long drag of her cigarette. "You're a fan of French existentialism?" she asked. "I was in my youth, but as I got older, I learned to stop brooding so much and just enjoy myself." "I envy you, mon amie. With the state of the world these days, I find little time for anything but worry." "Understandable. I worry too, sometimes, but then I just head out for some sunshine and a good meal and that normally does a great deal of good for my state of mind." "And what do you suggest for someone who is eternally trapped in the black and unrelenting prison that is their own mind?" Brandy paused to think, throwing a handful of crumbs to the pigeons. "A stiff drink," she said at last, "And I don't mean that frivolously. Often, I find the way out of a sticky situation is to do something I find uncomfortable in order to change my way of thinking, and that means a little bravery is needed. When the will isn't strong enough on its own, a decent dose of liquid courage can help. What makes you uncomfortable, friend?" "Happiness," drawled the stranger reading The Stranger. "Well, let's find a way to make you uncomfortably happy," said Brandy.

Seeing as how they just happened to be right outside the venerable bastion of French fusion cuisine known at The Blanchard, Brandy asked her new friend to join her for a meal. The woman, as it turned out, was named Blette Bleunoir, and though her dower continence remained, she accepted Brandy's invitation with a nonchalant shrug of her shoulders.

The Blanchard's classic style and open floor plan put them at ease right away, as did the soft, icy blue color scheme.

Taking a page from her own book, Brandy picked up the cocktail menu straight off and ordered the Lady Dynamite Mimosa, a turn on the classic brunch cocktail that included encapsulated bubbles of yuzu juice. Brandy found that the cocktail had a lovely, sophisticated flavor to it that had a soft vanilla finish and pops of extreme brightness from the yuzu that really woke up the palette. Blette went for the house Bloody Mary, which was surprisingly made with a watermelon gazpacho base and a cucumber infused liquor. Blette very much enjoyed the mix of sweet and refreshing flavors that really set this drink apart from other bloodys, but the fact that the spices were still present meant that the cocktail hadn't strayed too far from the shaker. In fact, this cocktail was so unique that Brandy ended up ordering her own, making this only the second bloody mary in history that Brandy enjoyed enough to finish a whole glass of.

Blette allowed Brandy to order them a couple of starters to set the tone of the morning; the Oeufs à la Yvettes “Egg Tart” and the Grilled Spanish Octopus. Octopus is something that pushes Brandy's comfort levels, as she usually convinces herself that she doesn't like it, but almost always enjoys it once she's had it, so she thought it was more than appropriate for demonstrating her point to Blette. From the moment this dish hit the table, Brandy didn't need any convincing. Beautifully plated and accompanied by some charred kumquats and fire roasted salsiy, the octopus was so tender and succulent that it barely needed to be cut with a knife. The char on the meat itself brought a lovely note of wood smoke and a subtle hit of chili spice kept each bite surprising, as did the little sour punch from the kumquats. The egg tart, in contrast, was much more subtle, with a rich buttery crust and a silky interior that simply melted away on the tongue. The poached shrimp on the top was so tender and perfectly cooked that Brandy and Blette found themselves in a silent battle over the last piece of it.

Blette, challenged to order something that would invoke feelings of happiness, warmth, and comfort, asked for the Croque Madame as her entree. The classic breakfast dish featured a good slab of smoked Nueskes ham with melty Gruyère and came smothered with morney sauce, which was then brûléed, and topped with a perfect over medium egg. Brandy detected the slightest hint of a smile forming on Blette's mouth as she took bite after bite of the cheesy, meaty dish. "This reminds me of my mother," she said at one point. "Did your mother used to make this for you?" Brandy asked. "No, my mother didn't cook," Blette replied, "But just as everything here is in perfect balance and nothing is over powering anything else, so too was the balance my mother tried to maintain between all fifteen of us in the family." "Goodness, you had a lot of siblings!" "No, mon amie, I am an only child. It was my parents and I and a dozen French bulldogs."

Brandy, stepping firmly into her comfort zone for her entree, ordered the Blanchard Burger. The sheer size of the thing was actually quite intimidating, but after one bite of that juicy, flavorful burger, Brandy was filled with joy that she would be able to make this particular dining experience last. The meat was perfectly cooked and had been topped with ooey gooey butterkase cheese, shallot confit, a creamy garlic aioli, and a thick hunk of bacon. The bun was soft enough that it didn't overwhelm everything else, but still had enough structure to convey the burger to one's mouth without loosing so much as a drip of cheese. Brandy rather appreciated that the burger came served with a few tiny cornichon pickles, which served to cleanse the palate every few bites. The garlic aioli was the thing that imparted the most flavor into the burger, but Brandy has yet to turn her nose up at anything with a heavy garlic flavor.

Lastly, the two ladies combined for a little sweet and savory experiment, ordering the Citrus Zest Crepes for dessert, but adding some seared foie gras to top them off. The result was indeed a very unique experience, between the eggy crepes, the rum spiced caramelized banana filling, and the rich and buttery foie. Blette thought the combination worked rather well texture wise, while Brandy really liked the way the vanilla flavor that had been infused into the bananas carried over to the rest of the dish. "Normally, combining sweet and savory elements makes me quite anxious, but I'm glad we tried this," said Blette. "Oh darling, sweet and savory are what I live my life by," Brandy replied.

The Blanchard made quite the impression on Brandy with their stunning presentation, their creative turns on classic recipes, and most of all with the incredible value of the dishes (most were under $20 a plate) when the portion sizes and the quality of the ingredients were put into consideration. The service had also been extremely helpful, as Brandy had relied heavily on some of their waitress's recommendations, meaning this brunch was darn near perfection in Brandy's mind. "Well, mon amie," sighed Blette as she adjusted her beret, "If I may say so, it was a very good thing that we came across each other this morning." "Are you saying you are happy you met me?" Brandy grinned, her eyebrow raised. "I suppose," Blette drawled. "Does it still make you uncomfortable to be happy?" asked Brandy. Blette considered this for a moment. "Yes," she replied, "But luckily, happiness is fleeting. Soon, I'll be right back to feeling comfortably melancholic." "A few more of these watermelon bloody mary's and you'll be able to stave that off for at least the rest of the afternoon," said Brandy.

The writers of this blog were invited to dine at the restaurant free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

The Short and Sweet Review

Friday, July 7, 2017

Forno Rosso Pizzeria Napoletana or Brunchy Woman

The Slow and Savory Review

It's not an uncommon site to see Brandy sitting at the counter of her local tea shop, sipping on the latest exotic blend in order to determine whether or not she needs to buy a bag's worth to add to her tea chest. It was one of these typical late mornings that a mysterious stranger wandered into the tea shop and took the seat beside Brandy. They smiled politely at each other. They eyed each other's cups of tea. Then, just as Brandy was about to finish off her last sip, the stranger reached out with a bejeweled hand and snagged the cup. "Interesting," the stranger intoned in a soft voice, "I see that you are about to take a trip across the city." "Are you reading my tea leaves?" Brandy asked. The mysterious woman smiled, slyly. "Of course," she said. "What rubbish," Brandy scoffed, "I don't believe in any of that heebee jeebee nonsense." "I also see here that you are a great lover of food," said the woman. Brandy rolled her eyes. "And that you are about to eat one of the best pancakes you've ever had." This caught Brandy's attention. "Really? Where?" "I'm not sure," said the woman, squinting, "I see pizza paddles and a bar and... that's odd. A pizzeria? Why would a pizzeria be serving pancakes?" "Ah... I think I know where that is. Would you care to join me?" "It would be my pleasure."

The stranger, as it turned out, was a woman by the name of Belladonna Blabrun, who made her living in the acquisition and sale of fine healing crystals and all natural tinctures. Brandy was still skeptical about her purported clairvoyant skills, but she was intrigued, as the woman's clues about the restaurant with the pizza paddle led them to Forno Rosso in the West Loop, an up scale pizzeria that had recently started a rather unique brunch service. "I'm not sure about those tea leaves predicting a legendary pancake, but I suppose anything is possible," Brandy said.

With all of the pricey, upscale restaurants in the area, Forno Rosso felt welcoming and unpretentious in comparison. The windows that surrounded the dining area made everything feel open and breezy, while the mix of reds and browns in the interior gave a cosy, rustic impression.

Right away, Belladonna and Brandy spied some promising items on the cocktail menu. Belladonna went with the Grand Mimosa, which was a traditional mimosa with the addition of some raspberry peach liqueur. While the mimosa did taste a bit sweeter than a typical mimosa, it just wasn't quite unique enough to catch Brandy's full attention. Instead, she went with the F'rosé, a whimsical concoction of rosé and raspberry sorbet. Though not normally the type of brunch cocktail Brandy gravitates towards, she found that she rather liked this outlandish pink drink and thought that it was utterly perfect for summer.

Belladonna and Brandy decided to start with a pair of savory shareable plates, accompanied by a bowl of roasted olives for snacking. First up was the Burrata Avocado Toast. Normally, Brandy is a little put off by avocado toast ("It's a lovely dish, but it's usually under seasoned and over priced," she says) but the addition of burrata straight from Italy seemed to set this one apart. Indeed, the silky, creamy cheese did add some pizzazz to the foundation of avocado and focaccia. Belladonna liked the halved cherry tomatoes as well, which added a much needed brightness to each bite. Next, they shared the Breakfast Pizza, a show piece for the restaurant's wood fired Neapolitan style crust. The pizza came topped with fresh mozzarella, scrambled eggs, more cherry tomatoes, and grilled asparagus. Brandy found the toppings to be in perfect balance, providing just enough vegetation to keep it light and enough cheese to keep it satisfying, while the crust had a brilliant chew and char to it.

Next, they moved on to a pair of eggy entrees; the Prosciutto Frittata and the Eggs in Purgatory. Belladonna very much enjoyed the Eggs in Purgatory, which consisted of three eggs poached in a slightly spicy tomato sauce that was so delicious and deeply flavorful that she couldn't resist scooping up forkfuls of it even after the eggs were gone. Brandy found her frittata to be a little on the salty side and a little dry, but otherwise quite good. It had a fluffy texture to it, which contrasted well with the pieces of mushroom scattered throughout it.

Finally, they ended their meal with a pair of sweet dishes: The Nutella French Toast and, of course, the fabled Wood Fired Pancake. The French toast had an excellent texture that was at once soft and chewy, but still held together under the weight of all the toppings. The Nutella made the dish down right decadent, while the bananas helped to elevate it from a sweet dessert to a true breakfast item. The pancake, though, was the star of the morning. Existing in the nebulous space between flapjack and Dutch Baby, this pancake came served in a skillet, puffed to perfection in the same wood oven the pizzas were cooked in, and topped with whipped cream and marinated cherries. The texture was almost creamy on the interior, making it very unique, and the cherries had just the right amount of tartness and sweetness to really elevate the flavor. "I've never had anything quite like this!" exclaimed Belladonna. "Surprisingly, neither have I," said Brandy, "Now this little dish truly is magic."

Brandy was very pleased to have discovered a such a casual brunch in the West Loop, but one that was still full or surprises and ingredients of excellent quality. Oddly, the dishware was worth taking special note of, as it's bright colors and retro patterns really did help to invoke the feeling of being served in the kitchen of a Neapolitan grandma. "Praise Mother Earth, am I glad I decided to read your tea leaves," Belladonna said to Brandy, "I've never experienced a meal quite like that one in all my years." "Stick with me, sweetheart, and you'll see all kinds of indulgent brunches in your future," Brandy winked.

The writers of this blog were invited by the restaurant to dine for free in exchange for an honest review.

The Slow and Savory Review

Friday, June 30, 2017

Davanti Enoteca or Mambo Italiano

The Slow and Savory Review

"I am strung tighter than a rubber band holding together a jet engine!" Brandy moaned to her friend Starr one day. "What could you possibly be so stressed out about?" Starr laughed, "All you do is go out to brunch! That's what most other people do to relax when they're stressed out." "But brunch is precisely what's got me in such a tizzy! There's a lot about brunch that is stressful," Brandy pouted, defiantly, "What if I over order and can't taste everything at it's freshest? What if I over balance the sweet to savory ratio? What if I opt in for bottomless mimosas and don't drink enough of them to cover the cost? There are just so many things to think about when you're regarded as one of the city's ultimate brunch experts!" "Alright, alright, chill. I think that your problem is that you've gotten too bogged down by your own criteria. Tell you what, let's go to brunch, but this time, maybe put all your rules and procedures aside. Just go as a civilian for once instead of a brunch expert. Maybe then you'll remember what brunch is supposed to be about."

Agreeing to try and let go of some of her tightly held brunch traditions, Brandy accompanied Starr to Davanti Enoteca in River North. They were pretty smitten straight away by the retro posters that adorned the walls of Davanati Enoteca, giving it the feel of a neighborhood joint that had been there since the beginning of time. The brick walls and distressed woods and metals also created a warm, friendly atmosphere, as did the open and spacious seating arrangement.

"First order of business, no mimosas or bloody mary's," said Starr, "You have to go outside of the norm." "But... but... just look at that make-your-own-bloody-mary bar!" Brandy whined. "You don't even like bloody mary's!" "Fine. How about... ooo, there's something called the Davanti Spritz that sounds interesting!" And indeed, the spritz was quite lovely, with a bright citrus flavor from some some blood orange juice, pleasantly fizzy from a splash of Prosecco and soda, and sweet from an Aperol finish. Starr eyed Brandy as she happily sipped her large glass of spritz. "That sounds suspiciously like a mimosa to me," she said. "I don't know what you mean, dear," Brandy replied, airily. Starr chose the Cider House Mule, a Moscow Mule given a little twist by the use of a cherry apple cider instead of ginger beer. She found the cocktail very fruity and effervescent, and while she detected the cider flavor right away, she couldn't taste much of anything else.

Round one of their brunch then began with a pair of items from the Insalata and Antipasti sections of the menu: some Crispy Brussels Sprouts and the Truffle Egg Toast. Though Brandy has had many a crispy brussels sprout for brunch before, she usually reserves that particular delicacy for autumn and winter. "We're breaking traditions today, remember?" Starr reminded her. The brussels had an intense flavor that bordered on being a little too salty, as they had been mixed with crunchy bits of fried prosciutto, but the addition of a sunny side up egg really helped to tame them. The toast was a unique surprise, with it's aromatic waft of truffle oil spreading across the table the moment it was set down, to the compact and unique appearance that was somewhere between eggs in a basket and a savory French toast. "It certainly is a nice change of pace from avocado toast," said Starr. Brandy liked it as well, especially its melty fontina coating and the little bits of asparagus that dotted the plate, providing a burst of color and a respite from the otherwise rich dish.

Next, they moved on to some pasta, specifically some Gnudi Pomodoro. The gnudi were incredibly light and airy, and matched well with the dollops of fresh buffalo mozzarella, shreds of basil, and a  slightly spicy sauce that really kept each bite from getting boring.

Starr picked the Prosciutto and Egg Sandwich as her entree, which came with a side of roasted tomatoes. She likened the massive sandwich to an Italian version of a croque monsieur, as the prosciutto had been placed between the two pieces of Tuscan toast, but the egg had been put on top, accompanied by a creamy sauce, making it more of a fork and knife affair. She found the amount of bread to be a little overwhelming, especially since she had expected more a hand held sandwich, but prosciutto was absolutely perfect.

Brandy went for the Davanti Burger ("Don't you always order burgers for brunch?" Starr asked. "Perhaps, but this one doesn't have an egg on it. That puts it firmly in the brunch category," Brandy retorted), which came topped with bacon jam, roasted tomatoes, broiled cheese curds, roasted garlic aioli, and fresh arugula. One thing that Brandy particularly liked was that instead of the expected side of fries, she was able to get a mini version of the signature escarole salad as her side. Normally, a side salad wouldn't be worth noting in her book, but this one came dressed with green apples, hazelnuts, a pecorino dotted with black pepper, and celery, and therefore was pleasantly unexpected. As for the burger, the thing was cooked to perfection, with a very juicy patty that had a good salt crust to it, some melty, chewy cheese, and a decent amount of sweetness from the tomato. The true accomplishment of the burger was that the bacon jam didn't overwhelm everything else, which it so often is wont to do.

The brunch menu at Davanti Enoteca was certainly a nice change of pace for Brandy. Very few of the dishes could be pegged as being simplistic brunch staples, as everything had a bit of a creative twist to it, and the preparation of everything was beyond expectations. Though the service moved a little slowly, the servers were all very friendly and had excellent suggestions when it came to the menu. "I'm very proud of you, going out of your comfort zone a little," Starr said to Brandy as they finished off the last of their cocktails. "I'm rather impressed with myself, if I'm honest," said Brandy, "Do you realize we have had nothing sweet at all during this brunch? I can't even believe that I'm not missing the other half of my sacred brunch ratio at all!" Then, after mulling this fact over for a minute, Brandy and Starr decided to head to the Glazed and Infused next door to pick up a donut or two.

The writers of this blog were invited to dine free of charge at the restaurant in exchange for an honest review.

The Short and Sweet Review

Friday, June 23, 2017

Roanoke or There's Tea Infused Bourbon in the Jar

The Slow and Savory Review

Brandy's friend Hawk had been going stir crazy. More often than not, he exemplifies what a strong and independent man should be, but with his wife, Bailey, traveling in the Southwest for a week, he slowly was becoming more and more lost without her. "My schedule is all thrown off. So is the cat's," he complained to Brandy, "and I don't seem to know where anything is any more. I've been eating over the sink because there doesn't seem to be any clean plates anywhere." "You poor thing," Brandy chuckled, "Let me take you out for a nice brunch so you can at least eat off a plate like a civilized human. Bailey will murder me if she comes back to find you've reverted to a caveman."

Brandy decided to take Hawk to Roanoke, a fairly new meat focused restaurant in the heart of The Loop. They were greeted by fiery torches and pillars just outside the door, peeking Hawk's more primal senses. The inside was warm with a definite masculine feel from the charcoal color scheme, which had been accented with gold, copper, and bronze.

Both Brandy and Hawk were immediately drawn to the cocktail menu. Hawk went for an interesting sounding concoction called the Holabird & Roche, which consisted of scotch, lemon, hazelnut syrup, cinnamon, and surprisingly, a banana liqueur. Hawk raised a single eyebrow as he took his first sip, indicating he was intrigued by the mix of flavors. "It's almost smokey," he reported, "and tastes like something I would like to be sipping in front of a fire in winter time. Very interesting." Brandy went with the Toast and Jam, which was rye mixed with hibiscus syrup, lime, and grapefruit. Brandy found the little punch to be bright and very flavorful, with a decent amount of zing, but a smooth finish. As Hawk and Brandy sipped their cocktails, they took notice of an extraordinary contraption on the bar. "What is that thing? It looks like something out of a mad scientist's laboratory," Brandy asked their server, who explained that it was a sophisticated apparatus used to infuse various liquors with the restaurant's choice of flavors. At that moment, they were using it to infuse bourbon with tea, cherry, and citrus peels. And even though Brandy already had a cocktail gripped rather tightly in her hand, she knew she had to try this wondrous product, so she ordered the Landmark Old Fashioned. The infused bourbon cocktail was extremely complex and smooth, with a nice little citrus finish that she rather enjoyed. "And how much does one of those thing-a-majigs cost? I think I need one for my own kitchen," she asked the server.

After sufficient beverages had been obtained, Brandy and Hawk moved on to some sweet and savory appetizers. First up was the sweets; house made cinnamon rolls, served affogato style with vanilla ice cream and a pour over of dark roasted espresso. The cinnamon rolls were no light and fluffy affair, as they had a denser texture and plenty of gooey icing. The coffee actually helped to tame some of the sweetness in them, but the ice cream made them feel more like a dessert than a breakfast item. Still, Brandy had to give them credit for their creative presentation.

For the savory side of things, they ordered the Rotisserie Roasted Cauliflower Salad as well as the Southern Fried Chicken. Brandy adored the vibrant colors of the salad, from the purple cauliflower to the greenery and pops of red from the grapes. It had an excellent balance of textures between the roasted veggies, the Marcona almonds, and the creamy goat cheese, and Brandy adored the bursts of sweetness from the addition of the grapes. Hawk, in the meantime, dug into the chicken, which he described as having the perfect kind of crunch and a very flavorful coating. The meat itself was a tad dry, but house made pickle slices and a spiced honey helped to pick everything back up.

For his entree, Hawk went with the classic Griddled Hamburger Sandwich (going off the recommendation of the chef himself, who told Hawk that he makes himself one every day when he comes into work). The burger didn't come adorned with any fancy bells and whistles; just tomato, lettuce, American cheese, pickles, dijonaise, some caramelized shallots, and a side of fries. Hawk actually loved the simplicity of it, commenting, "It's a classic burger, made the way they used to be before they got over copied and over produced." The meat was cooked to a perfect medium rare and even though the challa bun was soft and supple, it provided plenty of structure for the insides of the sandwich.

Brandy picked the Porchetta Eggs Benedict, especially wanting to sample the signature rotisserie roasted pork. She thought the succulent meat made a nice change from the usual pork belly or ham she sees on other benedicts, and she especially liked the rich flavor of the hollandaise. What really set this particular eggs benedict apart was actually the addition of some oven dried tomato, which gave each bite a bright sweetness to it. "Just like your burger, I feel this is a fairly classic dish, but done so well that it feels new again," said Brandy.

Finally. they ended as they began; with some sweetness from the Brown Butter French Toast. Slices of Texas Toast had been coated in a hazelnut crust and came served with warm blueberry maple syrup, dollops of luscious lemon curd, and fresh berries. The eggy inside of the toast was so soft that it was almost hard to get a forkful of it, but the bits of toasted hazelnuts added a nice textural contrast, while the lemon curd perked everything up. "You know what this reminds me of?" Hawk smiled, "Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches!" And funnily enough, Brandy could see what he meant.

Brandy and Hawk were quite pleased with their carnivorous brunch. The portion sizes were more than generous, the plating was well thought out, the service was friendly, prompt, and informative, and the offerings were unique enough to be interesting, but familiar enough to be comforting. "There now, do you think you remember how to be a functioning human being again?" Brandy asked Hawk. "I remember how, yes," he responded, "But now that I'm so full of food, I don't think I'll be able to physically function until after a long nap."

The writers of this blog were invited to dine at the restaurant free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

The Short and Sweet Review