Friday, December 19, 2014

Revival Social Club or Drinking Full Circle

The Slow and Savory Review
"I think I've figured out how to make a time machine," Brandy's good friend Brocco Leigh Binto (genius inventor and scientist) told her one day over tea.  "Oh?' was all Brandy could muster in response.  "It's all a matter of getting the wavelengths at the right frequency, you see?" Brocco tried to explain, "You just have to isolate the exterior timeline from the interior timeline so that you can have a living organism traveling through the fourth dimension without it effecting that organism's bio-molecular make up, you see?"  "Um... of course."  "Of course, I'll need to apply for some grants to develop the right kind of equipment, but I'm sure that won't be hard.  So, where would you want to travel to in time?" "Excuse me?" "You could be the first time tourist!  Name any era, any place, and I can send you there."  "Why wouldn't you want to be the first time tourist then?" "Well... someone has to operate the equipment, of course."  "Of course.  Well, if I must be your guinea pig, I suppose we'd better start off easy.  Why don't you send me back four years ago to Bunny and I's very first Chicago brunch?  I'd be interested to just how educated my palate has become since then."  "You've got it!  Where was your first brunch?"  "It was at M. Henrietta.  Oh... I still dream about the beautiful little baked egg and that delectable bread pudding..." Brandy trailed off.  "Stay with me," Brocco said, snapping his fingers in front of Brandy's face, "Can we go there to collect the exact coordinates?" "Sadly, the lovely place is no more.  However, I've heard there's a new restaurant there, and they do serve brunch..." "Then what are waiting for?  Let's go!"

The restaurant that had taken M. Henrietta's place just off the Granville Red Line stop was called Revival Social Club.  Though the outside was familiar to Brandy, the inside had had several changes from its predecessor; the once butter yellow walls had been painted a more sleek grey color, a bar had been constructed on the eastern wall that was not only stunning architecturally, but also utilizational for storage, and the whole dining space had been opened up and decorated with graphic canvases that lent the place the air of a speakeasy.  "I'm not sure if we've just traveled into the past of the future!" Brandy declared, stepping into the place.

The pair of friends started off with some drinks: the Southern Decadence for Brandy and the Kentucky Mule for Brocco.  Brandy loved seeing the original twists on classic cocktails that pervaded the menu, as well as some very original concoctions made with Dark Matter coffee (but we'll get to those later).  Brocco did like his Kentucky Mule, which was made with bourbon instead of the traditional vodka, thinking it had a nice effervescence to it while being simultaneously smokey and citrusy.  "That's not a flavor combination you see every day," he said, taking some sort of dodad out of his pocket and scanning the drink.  Brandy's drink, the Southern Decadence, was constructed from it's name sake tea from Rare Cellar Tea, some vodka, soda, and garnished with a grape and some fresh mint.  Brandy liked that it was nicely light, sweet, and refreshing, but still with a rather sophisticated herbaciousness from the mint.  "It's good, but probably more of a summer drink," she admitted.

The meal began with the Iron Skillet Monkey Bread (Brocco heard about half of the smiling waiter's description before he asked for an order of the confection).  The two bite sized balls of dough came warm to the table, a bourbon caramel glaze bubbling around the edges of the skillet.  The bread like spheres were light and airy on the inside, and while the glaze was sticky and sweet, it didn't overwhelm the dish.  "I might use my time machine to go back and eat this again," Brocco moaned, scooping up the last little dough ball.  "Or you could, you know, just order another..." Brandy suggested.

For his entree, Brocco ordered the Treehugger Omelette, which was loaded with roasted poblano peppers, onions, tomato, and spinach.  Brocco liked that the eggs were a little on the denser side of things, as it gave the omelet more substance, and the veggies were still a little crisp, adding texture to every bite.  The dish also came with a side of Fingerling Potato Hash, which was dressed in paprika and chives.  The potatoes were soft, not too salty, and had a lovely subtle flavor that made for a nice change from the typical kinds of breakfast potatoes found at other spots.  Brocco also ordered an additional side, a Double Chocolate Chunk Muffin, which also came warm.  Surprised by his first bite of the muffin, Brocco soon realized that the richness of the chocolate had actually been cut with a little cinnamon, giving the muffin an almost Mexican chocolate flavor.

Brandy went for the Short Rib Sandwich with a side of Candied Bacon and Popcorn Grits.  The short rib meat on the sandwich was unbelievably tender and juicy, and Brandy liked that the fried egg on top of it served to make the dish all the more richer, but she couldn't help wishing for a little slice of tomato or the crunch of some onions.  "I see this a lot," Brandy explained to Brocco, "A nice meaty breakfast sandwich is often served without veggies, but I usually find that even a little bit of greenery does wonders to brighten up an otherwise heavy dish."  Brandy was rather surprised by the grits, which really did taste of popcorn!  "I know this looser style of grit is more traditional," she said, scooping up a spoonful of the porridge like goodness, "I actually do like my grits a little more polenta like, usually, but these have such an unusual flavor that I'm willing over look that."  The grits had also been topped with a pad of maple butter, which didn't add as much sweetness as Brandy would have expected, but did provide a bit of guilding for the lily, so to speak.  The Candied Bacon was everything one could want from something of that name; thick slices of bacon coated in a thin layer of brown sugar to make the perfect kind of salty and sweet brunch snack that left one licking one's fingers for minutes after they were gone.

Closing out the meal, Brandy found herself intrigued by one section of the cocktail menu that mentioned house made coffee liqueurs, created using different blends of Dark Matter Coffee, and so she ordered up a little cordial sized glass of the Drunken Unicorn (so name because it utilized Dark Matter's Unicorn Blood blend).  The little glass of chocolate brown liquid was concentrated and thick, but smooth and luxurious, with all of the coffee's bitterness and acidity toned down with the rum it had been infused with.  Seeing the bliss of Brandy's face as she sipped the little coffee, the waiter insisted she also try the house made Limoncello, and he brought her another tiny glass of bright foggy yellow liquid.  This limoncello was also incredibly smooth with an almost creamy like flavor.  Though the drink was very sweet, it had somehow not taken on the syrupy quality other limoncellos can sometimes have.

Mightily impressed with the new occupants of one of her formerly favorite restaurants, Brandy had to be practically dragged away from the table by Brocco once he had collected all of the data he needed.  With most dishes priced around $10 and most cocktails around $12, Brandy thought the quality of ingredients and care put into their preparation was more than justified.  The subtle plating of the dishes as well as the perfect portion sizes showed that someone had really thought out not only the flavors, but the entire experience of eating at Revival Social Club, from the setting down of the plates all the way through the savoring of the last bite.  Even more impressed was she by the inventiveness of the bar, which not only paid homage to a by gone era of cocktail craftsmanship, but also showed originality in creating their own coffee liqueurs, a product not common even in the fanciest denizens of drink.  "Remember what you said about going back in time to eat that dish again?" Brandy asked Brocco.  He nodded.  "Maybe that's not such a bad idea after all," Brandy said, scratching her chin.

The Short and Sweet Review

Revival Social Club on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Food News: A Taste of Taiwan at Park Grill

Last week, Brandy had the privilege of attending a very special dinner at Park Gill in Millennium Park, hosted by the Taiwan Tourism Bureau, because, as we all know, she is quite the bon vivant.  "Sadly, I've not had the chance to explore Taiwan, one of the few countries in this world that I've not been to," Brandy said about the experience, "So I will be quite interested to learn more about what I assume is a beautiful place.  After all, they do call it the heart of Asia!"

The goal of the Taste Taiwan campaign is to educate chefs, food industry professionals and travelers on the differences between Chinese and Taiwanese cuisine and to show that Taiwan has rich culinary traditions all its own.  To do this, hundreds of chefs nationwide applied to go on an epic culinary tour of Taiwan in order to help them design a dish that they could take back to their restaurants and give all of their diners a taste of Taiwan as well.  Only three chefs were chosen, one of which was Jared Case of Park Gill, and his adventures (along with Stuart Cameron from NAO Steakhouse in Toronto and Anthony Jacquet of Whisper Restaurant in Los Angeles) were captured in a vibrant documentary, for which a trailer can be watched via the campaign's YouTube channel and will air on CNBC on December 28th.  For eight days, the chefs were exposed to everything from fine dining to street food to rustic home cooking, all with the goal of showing the sort of techniques and unique ingredients Taiwan has to offer.

Returning to Chicago, Chef Jared prepared several Taiwanese inspired dishes for the crowd, like Grilled Shrimp with Pineapple Relish, Tuna Tartar Wontons with Black Sesame, and Peanut Satay Noodles.  His crowning glory was a dish he called Drunken Oysters, inspired by a journey the chefs took by boat down a river, where they harvested fresh oysters and ate them with sips of beer.  His dish featured warm grilled oysters on the half shell with diced cucumber, cilantro, a little Sriracha, and Taiwanese beer to make things nice and authentic.

You can experience Chef Case's Drunken Oysters for yourself now until February at Park Grill, and if you do, make sure to take a picture of yourself enjoying them and tag it with the hashtag #TasteTaiwan for a chance to win an all expenses paid culinary tour of Taiwan!  "Perhaps I shouldn't be telling people about the contest," Brandy contemplated, "After all, then I'll have a better chance of winning and seeing Taiwan for myself!"

The writers of this blog were invited to attend this event free of charge to facilitate the writing of this post.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Postcards from Bunny: Max's Wine Dive Saturday Cartoon Brunch

A few weeks ago when Bunny was gallivanting around town looking for great places for a drink, she noticed something she thought should be brought to Brandy's attention.  "I know you said you'd been to Max's Wine Dive, but did you ever go back for their Saturday Cartoon Brunch?" Bunny asked Brandy.  "You know, I haven't yet," Brandy mused, "But honestly, how special can a Saturday brunch be?  Everyone knows the good stuff is served on Sunday."  "I'm not so sure about that," said Bunny, "It looked to me like they had a bunch of special items that were only served on Saturdays.  Dishes I have definitely not seen anywhere else."  "Is that so?" Brandy responded, "Well then, I had better check it out."

Not having grown up in American (nor, indeed in the age of television), Brandy had to have some elements of the cartoon brunch explained to her by Max's General Manager Kate Bocson.  It seemed that the concept of all the Saturday morning specials originated from the idea of a child's fantasies come to life and made more adult.  To add to the theme, cartoons played throughout the restaurant and classic games like Hungry Hungry Hippos and Don't Break the Ice had been set out for the patrons to enjoy.  "Well, my idea of a nice Saturday morning usually involves some needle point and a nice cup of tea, but what do I know?" Brandy shrugged.

First off, there was the mind blowing Candy Mimosa Bar, which instantly brought out Brandy's inner child.  The idea behind the mimosa bar was that Max's, being wine focused, originally didn't plan on stocking other spirits, and therefore could not make the brunch staple cocktail that is the Bloody Mary.  Taking all the fun of a make-your-own-Bloody-Mary bar, Max's converted it to fit their signature mimosas and gave it a cartoony twist.  There were carafes of Kool-aid, containers of gummy bears, Swedish fish, and other rainbow colored confections, and a tall glass with bunches of red licorice whips.  At first, Brandy was a little skeptical of adding such sugary sweets to her fairly high quality mimosa, but after plopping in a couple of peach flavored gummy rings, she started to see the fun of it.

After delighting her senses with candy, Bunny dove into the special Saturday brunch menu.  First up was the Pizza Bagel; a Red Hen Bagel toasted and coated in gooey cheese and pepperoni.  Though unfamiliar with the American tradition of pizza bagels ("Why would you want a hole in your pizza?" Brandy kept asking), Brandy did like that the bagel was very tender and soft, making it easy to eat.  The slightly spicy pepperoni had a nice bit of chew to it, complimenting the brilliantly melty cheese.

Setting a foot on either side of the sweet and savory line were the Pancake Dippers; strips of bacon coated in pancake batter and served with a side of maple syrup for dipping, hence the name.  Brandy found herself wishing the bacon used was a little bit thicker, as the pancake element seemed to take over.  The pancake itself was firm enough to keep its structure as Brandy dipped it into the syrup, though it did have a slightly grainy texture that Brandy didn't enjoy as much as she would have liked to.

After that came the house French Toast, which Brandy had sampled during her previous visit, but had been revamped to account for the season.  Now, the French Toast came topped with lots of cinnamon, sugar, and macerated clementine segments, which Brandy thought was a very interesting choice.  She sort of liked how the acid of the oranges cut through the sweetness of the sugar and when combined with the cinnamon provided a very old fashioned flavor combination that definitely did remind her of Christmas.  The toast itself had the same great texture Brandy had enjoyed the first time around with a good bit of crispiness on the outside and a soft, custardy inside.

The Scooby Snack was the next dish to the table, and the mere sight of it had Brandy swooning with delight.  The plate was a mile high stack of chocolate chip pancakes smothered in fudge sauce and topped with graham cracker pieces and a toasted marshmallow fluff.  Not entirely understanding the cultural reference of the dish's name, the waitress kindly directed Brandy's attention to the classic cartoons playing on the televisions above the kitchen.  "But you couldn't give these pancakes to a dog!" Brandy exclaimed in horror, "They're not supposed to have chocolate!"  As expected, the dish was decadent and rich, though the pancakes were actual quite light in texture.  The glistening chocolate sauce had been finished with just a little hit of salt, which really elevated what could have been a tooth achingly sweet dish, and the bits of graham cracker kept everything lively with a bit of crunch.

Just when Brandy thought she couldn't take any more, Chef Jessica Brumleve emerged from the kitchen with a devilish grin on her face, carrying what looked to be a small mountain contained inside a punch bowl.  As it was set down in front of her, Brandy suddenly realized what it was: The Six Person Sundae.  Looking like something out of a movie, the monstrosity came topped with everything imaginable, including colorful cereal, crisp bacon, potato chips, brandied cherries, peanuts, more marshmallow fluff, chocolate sauce, and enough ice cream to satisfy a football team.  There was even what appeared to be a chocolate lava cake in the middle of the thing, possibly added for a little more wow factor or for structural stability.  Brandy could hardly believe her eyes.  "Am I supposed to eat this or swim in it?" she asked.  Had she not already been so stuffed full of deliciousness, she might have faired better, but Brandy did her level best to make a respectable dent in the colossal masterpiece, a thing truly born from the imagination of a child.

"Well, how was it?" Bunny asked the next time she was on the phone with Brandy.  "My dear, it simply needs to be eaten to be believed," Brandy said, shaking her head, "I may not have experienced the typical Saturday morning cartoon thing in my youth, but everything about that brunch made me feel like a child again, especially that magnificent sundae, mostly because the damn thing was so big that it made me feel about three feet high!"

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

Max's Wine Dive on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Food News: RawSpiceBar Subscription Box Launch and Giveaway!

Brandy has been intrigued by all these new fangled subscription boxes for quite some time now, from the cook it yourself meal prep boxes to the kitchen gadget boxes to the snack boxes and everything in between.  "I like the idea of curated boxes like these that help people to broaden their horizons with food," Brandy has said, "But some of these menu type thingies are so inflexible.  Sure, it's great for those looking to learn to cook or don't have a lot of time to make fresh meals, but what about those of us who like to experiment in the kitchen?"

The possibility for creativity is what caught Brandy's attention when she first heard about the just launched RawSpiceBar.  RawSpiceBar delivers 3 premium spice blends from around the world direct to the consumer's door. They work with top chefs to create a unique and interesting spice blend for customers to try out. Each spice box averages 2 ounces of spice blends and yields a complete 3 dish meal for 8-12 people. All the spices use ingredients of the highest quality (and they opt for fair trade and organic spices where possible), sourced from global spice producers. Each box costs $6, RawSpiceBar covers the shipping costs (in US), and one can purchase a 3, 6 or 12 month subscription period (gift subscriptions are also available) with the ability to cancel or pause at any time.

Each RawSpiceBar box includes an "origins, instructions and recipes" card for each spice blend that includes the blend's history, as well as suggested recipes. RawSpiceBar also includes another 5-10 recipe ideas on their site, and they provide a great variety of options for vegans, vegetarians, carnivores, gluten free and healthy eaters alike.

Luckily, RawSpiceBar offered Brandy the chance to give away one of their first boxes (shipping in January) to one lucky reader!  To enter to win the box, just comment your favorite spice here in the comments below this post, or comment on the relevant post to our Facebook page, our Twitter page, or our Instagram page and make sure to include your email address so we can contact you if you win!  The contest will close one week from today (Wednesday December 17th).  If you're interested in trying out RawSpiceBar for yourself, make sure to use the coupon code "ilovespices" and you will receive 1 free extra spice monthly spice box with any subscription of 6 months or more.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Meli Cafe or From the Ground Up

The Slow and Savory Review

"Come on, girl, keep up!" Brandy called over her shoulder to Bailey as they bustled down State Street.  Though Bailey is quite a bit younger than Brandy, she was rather surprised by how spry her friend was, especially with several pounds of Christmas shopping bags in each of her hands.  "I'm going as fast as I can," Bailey panted, tottering on for a few more paces before collapsing onto a nearby bench.  "Where is your stamina?" Brandy asked, standing over Bailey and shaking her head, "I suppose this is what comes of surviving on Thanksgiving leftovers all week."  "Why aren't you tired?" Bailey wondered, "We've been out here shopping for hours and you're not even winded!"  "Why don't we go get some brunch and I'll show you my secret," Brandy replied, sympathetically, and helping Bailey up off the bench she escorted her down the road to Meli Cafe on Dearborn.

The tables inside Meli Cafe were nicely spaced out, ensuring a large amount of people could be served without being jam packed together, and the decor was surprisingly clean and modern.  Brandy was happy indeed to see that the restaurant was open and sunny all around the dining area.  "I simply cannot abide a breakfast restaurant doesn't have adequate sunlight!" Brandy explained to Bailey, "And not only does this place have the perfect amount of windows, it's also got very lovely light fixtures!"

Brandy and Bailey started with a pair of mimosas: for Bailey, the Fuzzy Mimosa, which came augmented with peach schnapps, and for Brandy the Moon Mimosa, which was finished with a little raspberry liquor.  Bailey really enjoyed her drink, which she felt was the perfect combination of a mimosa and a fuzzy navel, but she especially loved the use of freshly squeezed orange juice.  Brandy was less enthusiastic about her drink, thinking the flavor was a little too sweet for her.  "It's not bad," she admitted, "But it does make the teeth hurt a bit.  I think I need to chase it with something a bit healthier."  Much to Bailey's surprise, Brandy ordered a glass of Green Envy juice from the extensive list of fresh juices and smoothies, and this, Brandy claimed, was the secret to her energy.  "Ah, now that's much better," Brandy said after sipping the mix of apple, pineapple, pear, wheat grass and lemon, "Nice and bright, a little sweetness with a nice tang.  Jam packed with vitamins and all sorts of goodies.  Ever since I heard Martha Stewart extol the virtues of green juice, I've been hooked."  "I've never had wheat grass," Bailey said, wonderingly, "What's it like?"  "Like drinking a freshly mowed lawn in a very pleasant sort of way," Brandy mused, and deciding her description wasn't sufficient, she ordered two freshly juiced shots of the green stuff and walked Bailey through the procedure of downing the liquid and then biting down on an orange slice to cut the bitterness.

After their healthy starter, the two ladies ordered some protein packed entrees.  Bailey selected the Breakfast Hash from off the specials menu, which came with crispy pork belly, potatoes, two eggs, and toast.  Brandy couldn't help but smile at Bailey's plate as it was set down as she could see a little extra effort had been made in the presentation of a dish other restaurants might have ignored.  The hash had been piled neatly in the middle of the plate with the two fried eggs topping it and four pieces of toast laid out like the points on a compass.  "A lot of other places would have just thrown the toast on the side and have done with it," Brandy smartly observed, "Things like that go far in my book."  Brandy and Bailey were again impressed when their sweet and enthusiastic waitress brought a selection of condiments to the table, explaining that the everything from the jams to the ketchup had been made in house.  Of course, the taste of the food was also quite important, and Bailey reported that the hash was flavorful, hearty, and indulgently rich.  "The eggs are really what brings everything together," Bailey commented, dipping one of her toast points into some of the yolk.

Brandy selected the Emerald Isle Breakfast Bowl, which came with corned beef, Swiss cheese, house potatoes, and two over easy eggs.  The corned beef was fatty without being greasy and not overly spiced, which Brandy greatly appreciated, as some corned beefs can salty palate killers.  The bed of red potatoes underneath the meat were tender and silky, though Brandy wished they had a little bit of crunch to contrast with the rest of the dish.  Like Bailey's hash, Brandy felt the broken yolk of the eggs really helped to bring all the flavors in the breakfast bowl together.

To finish off, Brandy and Bailey split an order of Double Fudge Brownie Pancakes, though when the confection was brought to the table, both ladies secretly wished they didn't have to share.  The pancakes were very dense (Brandy very much liked that the menu specifically described the pancakes as being "dense" so that diners knew exactly what they were getting) and had a nice bittersweet chocolate flavor.  The bits of brownie scattered across the top just added to the decadence of the dish, turning it from a breakfast treat to more of a dessert.  "I think I may need to take a nap," Bailey said, swooning after a few bites of the heavy, yet delicious pancakes.  "Come now, girl.  Steel yourself.  We've still got lots of shopping to do today.  You can sugar crash later."

Before leaving, Brandy and Bailey actually caught up with the Meli's executive chef, Frank Georgacopoulos, who helped to develop the concept of the restaurant way back in 2006.  His philosophy that breakfast should be given the respect it deserves as the most important meal of the day immediately endeared him to Brandy, who couldn't help gushing over everything, from the house made ketchup to the informative and extensive menu.  "I think I could have ordered anything off that menu and been happy, which is saying a lot, as I'm pretty picky," Brandy told him.

After a very pleasant, filling breakfast at Meli Cafe that had obviously been crafted with love and care, Bailey did start to feel a surge of energy that could get her through the rest of her shopping excursion with Brandy, but just in case, she ordered a cup of the magical green juice to go.  "Alright, I can do this," Bailey told herself as she gathered up her piles of Christmas bags, and looking up to find Brandy already halfway down the road in front of her, she took a large swig of her juice and hurried along after her friend.

The writers of this blog were invited to dine at no charge by the restaurant in exchange for an honest review.

The Short and Sweet Review

Meli Cafe on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Postcards from Bunny: MiniBar Delivery

It was the day after Thanksgiving and Brandy, Bailey, and Hawk had gathered together to feast on their leftovers.  Bailey had a huge pan of home made stuffing, Brandy had cubed up some turkey breast, pulled out the boat of mushroom gravy, and set out the cranberry sauce, and Hawk had turned a bag of potatoes into French fries.  They all starred upon the spread, forks poised.  "You thinking what I'm thinking?" Brandy asked Bailey.  "Yep.  We need cheese curds," Bailey said stoically.  "Cheese curds?" Brandy questioned, "I was going to say a bottle of wine.  What do we need cheese curds for?" "To make Thanksgiving Poutine, of course!" Bailey responded, "I mean, fries, gravy, could be delicious!  What were you thinking of doing with the wine?"  "Um... drinking it?" Brandy said uncertainly, silently judging her friend.  "Why don't I run out and grab some wine and cheese curds?" Hawk suggested, attempting to break the awkwardness.  "Nonsense!" Brandy rebuffed him, "Don't you know you can get anything delivered these days?"

Brandy pulled out her phone and showed Hawk and Bailey a free app called MiniBar, a service that connects consumers with local liquor stores and gives them selections of wine, beer, spirits, and mixers to be delivered in less than an hour straight to their doorsteps.  "This service makes beer runs obsolete!" Hawk proclaimed, thumbing through the selections of cider.  "Exactly," Brandy said, smiling, "You could send a hostess gift to a party, even if you're stuck on the side of the rode with a flat tire!" Bailey cheered.  "You could," Brandy agreed, "But best of all, you don't have to go out in the middle of winter for a bottle of Irish cream to fortify your coffee.  Just have it delivered.  Why, I even sent a bottle of champagne to Bunny while she was staying in New York!"  "How did you find out about this?" Hawk asked, suspiciously, "No offense, but you're not usually up on all the latest technology."  "As a matter of fact, I just happened to meet the founders," Brandy said, rather proudly.

MiniBar's creator's, Lindsey Andrews and Lara Crystal were in Chicago just before the holiday to help the app launch and expand, which is when Brandy ran into them in the lobby of their hotel as they relaxed between the last of their meetings and their flight back to New York.  First meeting at business school where they both studied e-commerce, the two ladies used to brainstorm ideas for start up businesses on "Takeout Tuesdays," which is where the idea for MiniBar first came about.  The app launched in New York in February 2014 and was an instant hit for its convenience, ease of use, and quickness.  As well as launching in Chicago at the beginning of last month, MiniBar has also recently expanded to San Francisco.

Brandy instantly saw the benefits of using an app like this, from placing large party orders to sending holiday gifts, to situations like she would soon be in currently, where a dinner party was in desperate need of something to drink.  In the future, Lara and Lindsey hope to institute features like personalized recommendations, help with food pairings, and even more gifting options complete with special MiniBar cards and wrapping.  "I'm not usually very good with all these i-thingies," Brandy told the ladies, fumbling with her phone, which was tangled in a ball of yarn in her handbag, "But I can learn anything pretty easily if there's a bottle of  dram on the other end of it."

Jumping back to the leftovers spread in front of Brandy, Bailey, and Hawk, the trio quickly selected two bottles of white wine, and before they could even finish heating up the food (about 20 minutes later), there was a knock at the door.  Brandy happily presented her identification to the delivery man, who snapped a picture of it with his phone, and then handed over the sturdy MiniBar bag with the wine inside.  "Well that solves that problem," Brandy said, turning back to her friends.  "Yes, but do you have an app for cheese curd delivery so we can complete these poutines?" Bailey said, half laughing.  "No," Brandy admitted, adding slyly, "But my neighbor upstairs just got back from Wisconsin, and I'll be a monkey's uncle if his fridge isn't jam packed with any kind of cheese you could ever want."

The writers of this blog were given a chance to try this app at no cost in order to facilitate the writing of this post.