Friday, April 26, 2013

Cafe Vienna or The Taste of Music

The Slow and Savory Review

There have been numerous times in Brandy's life when she has served as a muse to various artists of all sorts.  Whether it was posing for painters, proposing prose for poets, or inspiring the whole Dadaist movement by accident one drunken night, Brandy has always been at the forefront of the arts where ever she goes.  There was even a time when she became a muse for a very talented violinist while living in Austria.  Brandy had taken up a job as a waitress in a small but busy cafe where members of the artistic community liked to gather.  One day, she was doing a particularly complicated maneuver which included pouring coffee for a sculptor, delivering pats of butter to a novelist, and taking the order of an old actor all at once when she made a turn a little too sharply and knocked the block of marble the sculptor had been working on off his table and onto her foot.  The scream she left out as her poor toes were crushed beneath the stone silenced the little dining room for a moment, but the a tall young man stood up and proclaimed her utterance to be the single most beautiful tune he had ever heard.  As it happened, this man was the first violinist for the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, and he immediately offered Brandy an outrageous sum of money to quit her waitressing job and help him develop his new opera.

It was perhaps this time in her life that Brandy was reminiscing about when she happened upon Cafe Vienna (formally Austrian Bakery) in Lincoln Park.  Unable to resist the lure of Bavaria, Brandy entered to find an elegant, yet homey bakery, stocked with loaves of bread, delicious looking cake slices, pastries, and cookies and populated by a few heavy wooden tables and a long counter by the window.  A smiling girl behind the counter bid her to help herself to a menu and a place to sit, which Brandy did happily.

The menu boasted an interesting mix of American staples and traditional Austrian fair.  Though Brandy was eyeing up one of the house specialties (the Chicken Schnitzel in particular) the lure of breakfast foods was too great.  She started off with a small order of French Toast, which came served with maple syrup and powdered sugar(which the waitress kindly informed her was one slice of bread, cut in half.  "That should be perfect, dear," Brandy answered, "I only want a little bit of sweetness for now.").  This was quite simply French toast done right; no fancy flavorings or toppings, just soft, eggy bread with a very thin caramelized crust, a hint of sweetness from the sugar. and a buttery finish.

For her entree, Brandy chose the Croissant Sandwich, which she customized with bacon, mushrooms, onion, and Swiss cheese.  Brandy appreciated that the meal included a cup of coffee, a courtesy rarely seen any more at more fashionable places.  The term "sandwich" was here used very loosely, as the plate seemed to be a delicious looking heap of Brandy's chosen ingredients mixed with scrambled eggs with the top of a croissant resting cheekily on top (further investigation uncovered the bottom of the croissant buried beneath the mound of food, which made Brandy laugh, "I feel like Bunny, digging for treasures!").  Brandy happily dug into the dish with knife and fork.  The croissant proved more bread like than a traditional French croissant, which is usually more flaky and buttery, but Brandy thought this firmer version stood up better to the rustic meal.  The eggs and their accompaniments had a distinct flavor of butter without being greasy, and the veggies were wonderfully flavorful.  Brandy especially liked that the bacon was cut into chunks, which proved to be delightfully chewy.

Though full to the brim with good food already, Brandy decided to take a few things on the road with her.  She chose a selection of breakfast pastries like a Chocolate Croissant and a Raspberry Danish to take her through the weekend.  While perusing the cases at the front of the shop, Brandy also spotted several decadent looking layer cake slices, and upon inquiring as to what their flavors might be, she decided upon the Opera Cake, thereby honoring the time she once spent with that young Venetian violinist.

Amazingly after all that, Brandy left Cafe Vienna with only about $27 missing from her pockets.  She loved the sociable girls who had not only been waitressing efficiently throughout the room that day but also manning the till and filling carry out orders, as they reminded Brandy of her days in her own little cafe in Vienna.  "Keep up the good work, ladies," she bid them as she walked to the door, "You never know when a broken glass or a dropped fork might inspire someone to write an opera!"

The Short and Sweet Review

Austrian Bakery and Deli on Urbanspoon

Friday, April 19, 2013

Unicorn Cafe or All out of Magic

The Slow and Savory Review

Its been a few weeks since Brandy visited her dear friend Baranina, infamous Polish popstar, who was stranded in Evanston due to some repairs being made to her private jet, so you can imagine Brandy's surprise when she got a call from Baranina, saying she was still there.  "What on earth happened to your jet that its taken a month to fix?" Brandy exclaimed.  "It was the solid gold cup holders.  One of them cracked and had to be melted down and smelted again, but they couldn't find the original mold.  In any case, its fixed now and I'm about to leave, so I would love to see you one more time."  Rolling her eyes so hard Baranina could practically hear it over the phone, Brandy agreed to meet with her once more before Baranina once again set off on her world tour.

This time, they chose an unassuming little coffee house in Evanston called Unicorn Cafe.  Brandy was immediately taken by its name, as she has always had an affinity for the magical beings.  "I think I saw one once when I was a child," she told a sceptical Baranina, "I was gathering wildflowers in the woods one day and I saw a white flash run through the trees.  I know it was a unicorn because my father had always told me those woods were infested with them.  Of course, he also said there was a mermaid in the pond in our back garden, but that turned out to be a larger than average slug."  Though hopes were high, both ladies were a little let down to find the interior of the place to be an odd combination of classic coffee shop hardwoods and cream colored walls, decorated with kitschy unicorn memorabilia, pictures, and nik-naks.  "They need to pick one side or the other," Brandy grumbled, "Either go keep it classy with more majestic unicorn decor, or dive in head first and paint the walls rainbow."  She and Baranina waded through the sea of students, who were all plugged into their various electronic devices, oblivious to the world around them, to a tiny table in the far corner.

Having staked their claim, they approached the large counter at the front of the shop to place some orders.  Brandy had a hard time getting the attention of the young girl at the cash register, who halfway through Brandy's order began conversing with one of the other employees.  Brandy gave her several stern coughs and eventually finished her order.

The ladies started off with some classic cafe drinks: Iced Coffee and a Chai Latte.  Both were not much more than average flavor-wise.  Both Brandy and Baranina thought the drinks tasted rather watered down, but at least the portions were fairly generous.

While they had both ordered some sandwiches, Brandy and Baranina decided to snack on some sweet treats while they waited for their lunch to be brought to the table.  Brandy chose a slice of Lemon Cheese Pie, un unusual decision for her as she normally steers away from anything lemon flavored (Brandy had a tragic childhood incident with some furniture polish she has never quite recovered from).  She found the pie to be quite bright and pleasant, with a creamy texture to the filling that kept the lemon from being too overpowering   Even the crust had a nice flakey consistency without being too thick.  Baranina picked a Red Velvet Cupcake, which was not quite as good as the pie.  The cake was extremely dry and flavorless, crumbling to nothing every time a bite was taken, and the frosting was overly sweet and chalky.  "This is why I usually only eat cupcakes made fresh by my personal chef," Baranina said, setting the unpleasant pastry down.

The sandwiches arrived shortly after.  Baranina had picked the Moroccan Panini, which consisted of some grilled eggplant, sweet basil, tomato, and Swiss cheese.  All in all, the sandwich was pretty flavorful though the veggies caused it to get soggy very quickly, even though it had been toasted.  Baranina had to resort to a fork and knife towards the end.

Brandy chose the Reuben, a classic deli sandwich made from roast beef (as opposed to the more traditional corned beef), Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and tangy dressing.  She found the sandwich extremely bland lacking in flavor.  Because roast beef had been used in place of corned beef, there was practically no seasoning, and an almost nonexistent portion of sauerkraut didn't help to boost the eating experience.  "This food is sadly not as magical as the name of this establishment would imply," Brandy sighed.

Though the prices weren't terrible, between the uninterested employees, the lackluster edibles and drinkables, and the confusing atmosphere, Brandy wasn't sorry to see the outside of Unicorn Cafe.  "Perhaps the next time you visit," she said to Baranina as she hugged her goodbye, "We'll be able to find somewhere a little more promising.  I've heard good things about this place called Starbucks."

The Short and Sweet Review

Unicorn Cafe, the on Urbanspoon

Food News: Taste of Streeterville

Every foodie's favorite part about the warming Chicago weather has almost come to pass.  Yes friends, we are glad to say that food festival season is nye!  One of the first events that will kick off the season of sampling is the Taste of Streeterville, a gathering of some of the finest restaurants and chefs from one of Chicago's most fashionable neighborhoods.  This year's event is being held on Tuesday May 7th at the Intercontinental Chicago and will feature delicious selections from restaurants such as Michael Jordon's Steakhouse, Wow Bao, Su Casa, Quay Restaurant and Bar, The Palm, and many more!

Tickets for the event can be purchased through this link:

BUT WAIT! THERE'S MORE!  Make sure to use the coupon code "foodieBB" to get $50 off your ticket!  This code expires April 30th, so make sure you take advantage while you can!

What better way to start food festival season off in style?  We hope to see all you brunch fans there!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Food News: Dine out For Life on Halsted

There isn't anything much better than having dinner at one of your favorite restaurants, unless its also helping to save lives at the same time.  That is just what you, dear readers, will be able to do on April 25th during Dining Out For Life night.  Thirteen of the best restaurants on Halsted in Lakeview will be donating a portion of the proceeds from every dinner served to which help in the fight against AIDS.  

By having dinner at any of the participating restaurants on April 25th, a portion of the proceeds (33% for the most part)  will go to Edge Alliance. Edge Alliance was founded 20 years ago to provide housing and life progress services to assist individuals/families diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. With donations, they have constructed a campus in the North Lawndale community consisting of two family-focused apartment complexes and one for single women and men.  So why not make your weekly date night mean even more by supporting a great cause?  

The following is a list of all the restaurants participating in this event, including some of Bunny and Brandy's all time favorites: 

4. Hearty
12. Wood

Food News: Dishcrawl in Evanston

We have a winner!  Congrats Judymcclo!  Please contact us at to claim your prize!

And remember friends, if you didn't win this time, you can still use the coupon code below to get 10% off tickets for this amazing event!

(Original Post Below)
Greetings readers!  Have a new and exciting feature for you all today called Food News, which will hopefully give you all the scoop on all the latest scuttlebutt on the Chicago food scene.  Part one of today's post is also a GIVEAWAY so make sure to stay tuned until the end!

Dishcrawl is one of our favorite foodie events in the city, because not only does it introduce its participants to a whole host of different foods in different neighborhoods around Chicago, but its also a great way to meet fellow eaters and drinkers!  The premise of Dishcrawl is that each event focuses on a different Chicago neighborhood or suburb, and for the price of a single ticket (usually around $45) participants are treated dishes from four different restaurants, all within walking distance of each other.  Its a fantastic way to learn about a neighborhood you may not have explored yet while making new friends and tasting some excellent cuisine.  

And now for the GIVEAWAY!!!!!

One of Dishcrawl's next events will be held in Evanston on April 23rd @ 7:00pm and they have kindly offered our reader's a 10% discount on tickets by using the code bunnyandbrandy10 at the checkout! They have also kindly given us a ticket to give away to you, our lucky readers!  All you have to do is tell us in the comments below which Chicago neighborhood is your favorite for getting a bite to eat!  This contest will run for 1 week (ending at midnight CST Thursday April 18th) and will be decided using  Make sure to leave us your email address so we can let you know if you've won!

We very much hope you all can make it out to this amazing event, and make sure to tell us all about it if you do!  Good luck!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Grandma J's Local Kitchen or Home Sweet Home

The Slow and Savory Review

It's hard for someone as restless as Brandy to ever truly feel at home.  Having lived in almost every continent on Earth (excluding Atlantis), Brandy has called all sorts of places home; from igloos to bungalows, to wigwams and yurts, Brandy has had the pleasure of settling down for periods of time in all sorts of domiciles, which has taught her that home truly is where the heart is.  "Sometimes I lived in a home," she says, "But at other times I've just had a room in which to sleep.  Granted, sometimes it was a quite comfortable space, but in the end I'd rather have a mess of a home than an immaculate room."  Having settled down for quite some time now in Chicago, Brandy can honestly say she has found one of those homes, and is after all quite comfortably surrounded by the various trinkets and trappings of her travels.  Sometimes that comfort can make it difficult to leave the home, but Brandy's ultimate thirst for adventure (and laziness when it comes to washing her own dishes) always wins out.

It was while out on North Avenue one day that Brandy was driven west by a hoard of hipsters and ended up in  Humbolt Park, just in front of an unassuming store front labeled Grandma J's Local Kitchen.  It was the chintzy curtains in the window that first drew her attention, and upon entering the place, Brandy had to stop and wonder for a moment, for she appeared to have walked into her own home.  Delightfully mismatched chairs and tables were scattered around the small room, decorated with an eclectic mix of chachkies and vintage photographs.  Even some of the ceiling tiles above had been covered in various fabrics, giving the appearance of a patchwork quilt.  Brandy was so overwhelmed by the feeling of being at home that it was a good few minutes before she came to her senses and found a seat (she also had to resist the urge to go looking for her dressing gown and slippers).

Along with the menu, Brandy's table was presented with some diced melon and an orange slice in a teacup, as well as some iced water in mason jar.  The Swedish Coffee on the menu grabbed her attention straight away, but the young woman serving her let Brandy know that because of a late start to the morning, the Swedish coffee wasn't quite ready, as it took a sort of elaborate process to brew, so Brandy went with the regular coffee instead.

The menu began with an intriguing list of "snacks," from which Brandy chose two; the Deviled Eggs and the Crispy Kale.  The eggs could not have been more perfect with soft whites, creamy filling, and crispy bacon adding a subtle little twist to such a classic dish.  Brandy also greatly appreciated the small salad served with the eggs, which helped to break up the richness.  The kale was also delightful, with the outer part of the leaves perfectly crunchy and in middle still a little crisp and chewy.  The dish had been topped off with some lemon zest, which added a brilliant brightness to it.  "It's like eating a sunny day in the park," Brandy mused.

For her entree, Brandy chose the Chicken and Waffle Fritters and was presented with a gigantic plate of fried goodness.  Brandy was truly taken aback by the massive portion of chicken she had been given, which also came with a pile of delicious looking fried dough, local honey, real maple syrup, and a few home made potato chips.  "They've done a really smart thing here," Brandy said, grinning to herself while nibbling on one of the fritters.  For those who may not understand, waffle irons are the bane of a small kitchen's existence, as they take up a massive amount of counter space and really only do one thing, but by instead choosing to fry the waffle batter into fritters, the chef had cleverly avoided this problem while still providing an excellent dish that was both original and classic.  The chicken was some of the best Brandy had ever had; incredibly juicy interior, coated in a cornmeal crust that had an amazing crunch and flavor.

Brandy could have happily sat all day at her little table, having the kitchen bring her every dish on the menu from breakfast till dinner (which would have been made easier by the amazingly low prices of around $3 for small plates and $10 for large ones, an incredible value for the quantity and quality of the food), but with the scarcity of space she just couldn't bring herself to deprive others of the experience of eating at Grandma J's.  The feeling of warmth and care she got, however, was well worth the trip, and she carried it with her all the way home, to her own eclectic bohemian living room.

The Short and Sweet Review

Grandma J's Local Kitchen on Urbanspoon