Friday, June 29, 2012

Longman and Eagle or Wake Me when its Brunchtime

The Slow and Savory Review

"Where am I?" is never the first thing one wants to think upon awakening, but that was exactly Brandy's first thought when she opened her eyes and found herself in a room that was not hers.  After locating her spectacles under the bed upon which she slept, she was able to examine her surroundings properly.  Rustic brick wall.  Rustic headboard.  Rustic table and chair.  "Must be in a farm house," she thought, "Well, that must have been one hell of a Pride party last night."  But upon approaching the window, she found herself to be looking out upon a bustling city street.  Just making out a Blue Line station across the way, she had the sudden realization that she was in Logan Square. 

Soon, Brandy was lured from her room by a delicious smell, which turned out to be emanating from the attached gastro-pub called Longman and Eagle.  Looking around the homey, yet rustic room, Brandy spotted Biscuit Brown seated at the bar.  "What are you doing here?" she asked Biscuit, taking the bar stool beside her.  "You told me to meet you here for brunch, of course," Biscuit said, a little puzzled.  She then produced her phone, on which was a rather poorly typed message from Brandy, giving the name and address of the restaurant they were currently seated in.  "Oh," Brandy said in surprise, "Well then, let's get a table."  "Our name is on the list.  The lovely gal up front said there were six parties in front of us."  "Well, lets get some hair of the dog then," Brandy said, snatching up the brunch cocktail menu.

Brandy chose a delightful sounding concoction made with Gin and lime called The Violet Buck.  It turned out to be rather refreshing and bubbly, just the thing to bring Brandy back into her regular consciousness.  Biscuit ordered a glass of Weekend Punch (which apparently had an ever changing recipe.  This day, it happened to be leaning towards Caribbean flavors) which was lovely and tropical with an almost savory taste to it, due to the addition of some bitters.  "No garnishes," Brandy remarked, "Odd to see such elaborate cocktails with not so much as a twist of lime peel or a sugared rim."

Chatting with the bartenders brought about the realization that Longman and Eagle wasn't just a gastro-pub, but did in fact have rooms for rent, like the inns of old.  This information comforted Brandy, as she had been worried her night was spent in someone's bed she did not know.  "Haven't done that since my fifties," she whispered to Biscuit.

A short wait later and they were escorted to a table in the back room of the restaurant, which while a bit darker, still held the same rustic charm.  Another round of drinks was ordered with Brandy sampling a drink entitled Daisy if you Do and Biscuit getting a Bloody Lawrence (or Larry for short).  Brandy didn't much care for the Daisy if you Do, which tasted mostly of strong alcohol, but with a soft strawberry finish, but the Bloody Lawrence seemed to be a revelation to Biscuit.  Though looking like a traditional Bloody Mary, the Bloody Lawrence actually replaced the vodka with whiskey and added a beer back.  It was love at first sip for Biscuit.  "I feel like this is how a Bloody Mary should always be," she said in awe, her eyes wide.

Brandy, still feeling a tad groggy, decided she needed more refreshment to start the meal with and ordered a bowl of Chilled Asparagus Soup.  The bowl was beautifully presented with swirls of creme fraiche, scattered mushrooms, and a delicately poached egg in the middle.  The soup was like liquid velvet, with a brilliant roasted garlic flavor.  The mushrooms made for a nice chewy element, and the slightest little hint of truffle oil mixed with the silky, tangy creme fraiche was the perfect amount of gilding on the lily.  Brandy could have done without the egg, but it did help to lend a little richness to the soup.

Biscuit sided with her Southern roots and went for a plate of Biscuits and Gravy with a side of Cheese Grits.  The grits were a bit of a disappointment to her, in that, while very creamy, they weren't exactly cheesy.  The biscuits, although plated a little sloppily, were soft and doughy and scrumptious.  The creamy sausage gravy had a very interesting sweetness to it, which mixed rather well with the spicy meat.

Brandy chose the Peeking Toe Crab Benedict for her entree.  The eggs were poached ever so softly, almost too softly, as she found the whites to still have a bit too much jiggle to them.  The base of the Benedict was the same house made biscuits as Biscuit's biscuits, which were soft and supple.  The crab was nicely sweet without any sort of fishy taste.  Brandy did wish for a little difference in texture, as the soft eggs, soft crab, and soft biscuits all started to blend together.  "Some little bacon lardons would be lovely in this," she said.  The overall softness of the dish also made the two tiny crunches (she couldn't tell if it was from a tiny bit of crab shell, or a tiny bit of egg shell) she experienced all the more noticeable.  On the side, Brandy had chosen some house potatoes, which proved to be rather delicious with crunchy outsides, creamy insides, and a perfect amount of savory flavor.

"I must say, of all the places to wake up in, this one was a rather good one," Brandy said, patting her stomach, "Good food, good service, comfortable atmosphere... couldn't ask for more, really."  Even the bill didn't seem to be oppressive, coming in at just about $25 a person.  In fact, Brandy so enjoyed her experience at Longman and Eagle that she was soon inquiring about the weekly and monthly rates for rooms.

The Short and Sweet Review

Longman & Eagle on Urbanspoon

Friday, June 22, 2012

Postcards from Bunny

Greetings dear readers and Happy Pride Weekend to all the brunch aficionados of Chicago!  As Pride weekend is one of the most brunch-tastic holidays of the year, we hope you will peruse our archives to find a great restaurant at which you and yours can enjoy a wonderful meal before the parade.

In the meantime, we've had a few little blips from Bunny (who is currently celebrating Chicago Pride at Rainbow Falls in Hawaii).  First up is this spectacular event at one of Bunny and Brandy's favorite Chicago eateries, ING, sponsored by the wonderful people at Chicago Foodies:

Chicago Foodies Unique Dinner Series: “A Lifetime of Guilty Pleasure” CHICAGO, IL: June 19th, 2012--  The foodie culture in Chicago is constantly evolving as chefs and restaurants focus efforts on more exciting and original dishes, leaving Chicago Foodies to ask: What was your guilty pleasure when you were 10? What will it be when you're 80?

On Saturday, June 30th Chicago Foodies ( will host the 2nd event in its Unique Dinner Series, “A Lifetime of Guilty Pleasures” at iNG Restaurant (951 West Fulton Market). Chef Homaru Cantu will lead diners through a six-course journey of guilty pleasures from infancy to maturity, demonstrating the range and depth of his menu and broadening the palette's of fine-Chicago diners.

“The Unique Dinner Series gives chefs creative license to take risks that they would not otherwise take at their restaurants,” said Chicago Foodies founder and editor-in-chief Josh Brusin. “Chefs are challenged to step outside of the box, resulting in a wildly innovative culinary experience.”
Earlier this year, Chicago Foodies kicked-off the series at Moto with "16 Courses of Black" prepared by Cantu and his team, including Ben Roche and Top Chef contestants Chris Jones and Ritchie Farina. Twenty-four diners experienced a progression of flavors and textures - all in achromatic black.

“It’s about as extreme as high-end dining gets,” said Chef Cantu.

“A Lifetime of Guilty Pleasures” is limited to 36 guests. For reservations, email your request to: Tickets are $100 per person.
Saturday June 30th

iNG Restaurant
951 West Fulton Market
Chicago, IL 60607


Our other little tidbit is some exciting news from our good friends at Robert Mondavi Private Selection:

Discover the Central Coast with Robert Mondavi Private Selection Robert Mondavi Private Selection is kicking off summer by taking consumers on a virtual tour of California’s Central Coast.  Breaking the perception that great American wine only comes from Napa Valley, wine industry leader Robert Mondavi Private Selection puts the California Central Coast appellation on the map.  Spanning from Santa Cruz County to the Santa Barbara County, the appellation represents a region which Private Selection is proud to source their grapes from.  

Through the use of social media channels including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube, Robert Mondavi Private Selection will discover and share hidden gems of the Central Coast, showcasing the ‘best of’ landmarks ranging from Hearst Castle, to cafes and diners, bed & breakfasts, antique shops, vintage clothing stores, and other favorites most commonly known only to locals.  These ‘locals-only’ hideouts are pure and true to California’s Central Coast culture as is Private Selection.  Robert Mondavi Private Selection sources 100% of their grapes from the region’s growers – a characteristic unique to the brand and one which sets it apart from super premium category competitors. 

The allure of the California coast was obvious to Robert Mondavi who believed that wine can enhance any meal and be enjoyed by everyone.  The Central Coast region holds tremendous varietal quality and versatility that could be used by Mr. Mondavi as a winemaker.  The result: high quality, affordable fine wine born of the best of California’s diverse growing regions.  The digital tour stops at some of the least expected businesses and locations further proving that high quality food, wine, and fun doesn’t have to come at a high price.  

Launching at a time when gas prices might deter folks from taking their annual summer vacations, an event that two thirds of Americans generally take, the Robert Mondavi Private Selection Central Coast tour kicks off north of Santa Cruz and heads south through Monterey Bay and San Luis Obispo.  The tour wraps up in late August in the Santa Barbara County. 

Food and wine enthusiasts are encouraged to check the Robert Mondavi Private Selection Facebook page daily for updates including recipes, interesting Central Coast information, and educational messaging about the winemaking and tasting process.  Readers should also stay tuned to Pinterest for contest opportunities.

Robert Mondavi Private Selection Facebook:
Official website:

Friday, June 8, 2012

Hellas Pastry Shop or Greek Lightning

The Slow and Savory Review

It's a very sad thing that in this hustle and bustle world of ours, there is sometimes just not enough hours in the day to truly enjoy life as it should be enjoyed.  Brandy, who while well versed in smelling the roses, is not always immune to this tragedy either.  But while others often choose to sacrifice (gasp!) breakfast in favor of expediency, this is one thing Brandy refuses to ever do.  So even when her schedule is full to the brim (such as it was this week, having been invited to judge an egg poaching competition, as well as serving as a free lance consultant for a start up coffee company, and helping a gourmet butcher to flavor his signature bacon, not to mention all the preparation for the Queen's special Diamond Jubilee Super Secret Mimosa Reception) she stoutly refuses to miss the most important meal of the day, no matter what the cost.

Being in need of rather quick bite, but refusing to compromise her very high standards, Brandy headed to Hellas Pastry Shop in Ravenswood, a sweet little bakery with a heavy dollop of Grecian goodness.  Though not as flashy on the inside as some of other Chicago bakeries, a feeling of warmth all but emanates out of the clear glass cases where all of the baked good are kept.  A smiling lady greeted Brandy right away and tried her best to keep up as Brandy walked from case to case and rattled off her order.  She even handed Brandy a free cookie, saying, "This one's for you, honey."  "Well, its all for me, but thank you!" Brandy smiled.

The first of Brandy's choices was a Spinach Pie, a sort of more Italian twist on the traditional Greek Spanakopita with mozzarella and ricotta replacing feta cheese.  Brandy very much enjoyed this recipe, as the milder cheeses took away the bitter bite that feta can sometimes bring to that particular dish.  The pastry crust was very light a flaky with just a little bit of chew to it.  Brandy suspected this was most likely hand made phyllo dough, a rare find in this day and age, as it is traditionally very complicated to make and get right.

Next was a nameless pastry which Brandy was told was "like an eclair."  She actually found it to be a delicious mix between an eclair, a Boston cream donut, and a whoopie pie.  The pastry was topped with a thin but rich chocolate glaze that very much reminded Brandy of an eclair, but the pastry itself was more cake like, being soft and moist, and also soaked in some sort of syrup.  The cream in the middle was not like a traditional pastry cream, but more along the lines of a thick whipped cream or a marshmallow fluff.  It was so rich and decedent that Brandy could only eat half of it at a time.

For her tea, Brandy nabbed some of Hella's signature Honey Cookies, a take on a traditional Greek cookie called Fenikia.  The texture was soft and crumbly, like a pecan sandie, but with the cookies having been soaked in honey, there was a certain moistness to them.  The sweetness was surprisingly not over powering, and the little dusting of crumbled nuts on top (Brandy guessed that these were almonds, but couldn't quite tell) was the perfect touch.

Brandy also grabbed a bag of Grape Juice Cookies, another twisted Greek recipe called Moustokouloura which is traditionally made with wine must (a sort of grape nectar that is created during the first step in the wine making process).  Though they didn't much taste like grape, these cookies were like a more subtle version of gingerbread.  The most present flavor was a subtle cinnamon, brought to the front by molasses, and the texture was quite soft and doughy.

Brandy was very glad to have these little treats to get her through such a busy weekend, and with unparalleled kindness from the shop keepers, on top of reasonable prices (around $25 for 2 spinach pies, 2 pastries, 6 honey cookies, and a dozen grape juice cookies) Brandy is more than likely to be returning for a less rushed experience.
The Short and Sweet Review
Hellas Pastry Shop on Urbanspoon

Friday, June 1, 2012

Yoshi's Cafe or Far Out Far East

The Slow and Savory Review
It's sometimes hard to keep the attention of someone as well traveled as Brandy.  Great Wall of China?  Seen it.  Leaning Tower of Pisa?  Been there.  Big Ben?  Heard it.  Grand Canyon? Done that.  But for some reason, Brandy has always had a special fascination with the Far East, which is probably why she was rendered into fits of jealousy when she found out about Bunny's interview last week with the delightful Chef Takashi Yagihashi.  "I have a closet full of kimonos!" she was heard to exclaim, "I drink sake by the gallon!  I've even won an international title for speed rolling sushi!  But she's the one who interviews Chef Takashi?"

In order to prove her superiority in all things Japanese, Brandy, along with Biscuit and Birdie Brown, headed to Yoshi's Cafe, a posh Japanese/French fusion spot in the heart of Lakeview.  Brandy had always been an admirer of the summer porch, with its miniature chandeliers and roaring fire feature, but with the weather veering towards 100 degrees, the inside seemed a more favorable spot.  The interior was very clean, bright, and elegant, though a little cramped.  A large bar dominated the center of the room with white linen clad tables surrounding it, and what seemed to be a private room at the back, blocked off by a sliding paper door.

Upon sitting down, the group were presented with a basket of freshly baked croissants, marmalade, and whipped butter.  Birdie wasted no time in diving for the marmalade, while the ladies listened to their adorably attentive waiter explain the specials.  As mimosas were half priced, a round was ordered, with Brandy and Birdie choosing the lychee flavored variety, while Biscuit sided with the plum wine mimosa.  Both types seemed traditional at the start, but the lychee one proved to be more light and sweet, while the plum wine was a bit more acidic.  Brandy especially liked the skewered lychee nut that had been balanced over her glass.  "It almost looks like a scallop, its so huge!" she remarked.

To start off with, the table split an order of French Toast, made with house baked brioche and served with fresh fruit, creme anglaise, berry sauce, and maple syrup.  The toast was so soft and warm that it seemed to melt on the tongue, and everyone agreed that the combination of the rich creme, bright berry sauce, and fresh fruit really made this seemingly simply dish a standout.

For her entree, Biscuit chose the Baked Egg in Brioche.  Though she found the eggs cooked a little inconsistently ("This egg is runny as a grey hound after a weasel, but this one's like a bloodhound sitting on a porch," she said, gesturing to each egg in turn) Biscuit had only good things to say about the buttery and tender bread.  Her side potatoes too were fairly pleasant, though nothing special.

Brandy had chosen the substantial Wagyu Beef Burger with Truffle Fries.  Rather sweetly, the fries were actually "truffled" tableside by the waiter, who poured just a little touch of truffle oil over them.  The fries were actually quite crisp and fragrant, though Brandy would have loved some means of transporting the truffle all the way down to the bottom of the paper container that held them.  The burger itself was so thick and juicy that Brandy could barely get her mouth around it, and after a few bites, the bun ceased to be a viable means of fluid free transport.  Brandy very much enjoyed the peppery arugula, caramelized onions, and wedge of brie that came atop the burger, though she thought the four pots of sauce (horseradish, mustard, ketchup, and BBQ) that came on the side were a bit over kill, especially for such high quality beef.

Brandy had been so enraptured by the burger that she completely missed the Japanese Style Breakfast, one just like Chef Takashi had described to Bunny.  Fortunately, Birdie didn't miss it.  The filling array of food was thus: a large wedge of pineapple, a bowl of miso soup, spinach cooked with sesame seeds, white rice, and a fish of the day, which happened to be cod in a mushroom ginger sauce.  The fish was beautifully cooked, being tender and flaky, with the mushroom sauce helping to combine the animal of the sea with the earth.  The soup was warm and filling, the spinach salty and sweet, and the pineapple was nicely cut along the rind for easy eating.  "Reminds me of when I was stationed in Osaka," Birdie mused, "There were these lovely women who worked at our base and they used to bring us plates like this every morning."  "That was a hotel, dear," Biscuit corrected him.

Though a rather pricey brunch (most entrees ranging between $13-$18, but the mimosas were half priced), Brandy thought their little excursion to the Far East was well worth it.  Being so full after their entrees, the party couldn't even be enticed into dessert when shown all the sweets on offer by their very tempting server.  Gladly though, as they walked out the door, they were each handed a little carry out box by the hostess, which contained an almond flavored French macaroon, making for an especially lovely ending to a very special meal.

The Short and Sweet Review

Yoshi's Cafe on Urbanspoon