The Slow and Savory Review
Well, Our Ladies had quite the adventure last week, didn't they? But as Brandy always says, "You have to have the bad ones to know the good ones," and that certainly did prove true for this week's visit to the newly opened Kanela Cafe in Wrigleyville. Accompanying them were old standby Biscuit Brown and the prestigious Mama Bee (her bag was searched for honey before they got to the restaurant).
Having made reservations before hand, they were placed at a table right away. Done mostly in browns and whites with scattered track lighting and exposed brick, the interior was sophisticated, but not unfriendly, which is an important balance when it comes to a breakfast restaurant. Though the tables were a little crowded together, making things a bit loud, the party of four were still able to sit comfortably.
The table began with a round of iced mochas, which were made with Julius Meinl coffee. Though quite delicious, they weren't very sweet, and were a little on the small side. The table picked two starters, some Monkey Bread and Loukoumades, or Greek style fritters (much of Kanela's menu exhibits a touch of Greek influence). The Loukoumades were quite delectable, being covered in a honey lemon syrup and chopped walnuts, they delivered a pleasing amount of sweetness and an interesting texture. Mama Bee, resident expert on all things covered in honey, mentioned the flavors and texture reminded her somewhat of baklava. But the real hit was the Monkey Bread. Warm, buttery and with just a hint of cinnamon, the sections pulled apart with ease as good Monkey Bread should. Bunny, who had never experienced Monkey Bread, was an instant convert, her only complaint being that the portion was not nearly big enough.
It was time for Bunny's monthly plate of Eggs Benedict, so she chose the Smoked Pork Belly Benedict with brussel spouts and cranberries. "Possibly the most original benedict we have yet encountered," Bunny said after her first bite. The eggs were beautifully poached, the pork belly not too greasy, and yes the brussel sprouts and cranberries were quite a surprise, but they worked rather well with the richness of the other ingredients.
Mama Bee selected the Kanela Chip Pancakes. Topped with a melting bit of heavenly brown sugar butter and a drizzle of creme anglais, the pancakes were a little heavy, but plenty moist and perfectly sweet. Mama Bee thought so highly of them that she didn't ask for a pot of honey to drown them in, which is quite the accomplishment.
Biscuit chose the Lorraine Scramble, with Gruyere cheese, bacon, scallions, and of course, scrambled eggs. Perfectly mimicking the flavors of a Quiche Lorraine, the concoction was light, fluffy, and very flavorful. The potatoes on the side were quite good, though Mama Bee and Brandy thought they were a tad too herby.
Last but not least was Brandy, who ordered the Bacon Waffle, a confection sounding too good to be true. Waffles made with bits of bacon in the batter were topped by chocolate covered pieces of bacon and bourbon caramel sauce. Their delightfully energetic server came over to apologize, saying he had mistakenly forgotten to put in the order, but within seconds of him leaving the table, the waffle was delivered. Though the waffle alone was not very remarkable, the rich, smokey chocolate bacon pieces made for a decadent treat, especially when dipped in the bourbon caramel. Again a little short on portion size (especially when compared to the rest of the entrees), but this time it made sense, for the richness of such a dish is probably best if limited.
There is nothing like being made to feel you are being served by friends, and Kanela definitely imparted that feeling. The food was tasty, well presented, the service impeccable, and the prices were a good average for the quality of the meal. Just don't throw your plate against the wall at the end of the meal and shout "Opah!" as apparently that is discouraged. Brandy will not make that mistake again.
The Short and Sweet Review