Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Tea Time with Brandy: Morinaga Make-Your-Own Tofu

"I've got my turkey, my potatoes, my cranberry sauce, my veggies, three pies, and six bottles of wine... what am I missing?" Brandy postulated as she stood in front of her fridge.  She scratched her chin until she finally realized.  "Breakfast!" she exclaimed, "How could I forget the most important part of Thanksgiving?"  Indeed, Brandy has always regarded the breakfast she prepares on Thanksgiving morning to be one of the most important meals of the year.  "One needs something that isn't too heavy or filling, but is packed with protein to make one feel satisfied while cooking all day," she often philosophizes.  Staring into the depths of her fridge, Brandy spied several ramekins.  "Of course!  The tofu!" she exclaimed, and that was that.

A few days before, Brandy had the pleasure of trying out a Make-Your-Own Tofu kit from Morinaga.  The full kit included containers of soy milk, packets of a special coagulant called nigari, and in the momen version of the kit, a press to turn the silken tofu that results from the process into a firmer version, more suitable for cooking with.  The process of making the tofu was actually fairly easy; Brandy simply had to mix the soy milk with the nigari and then cook it in a water bath for about 15 minutes.  Even though this version of the tofu was supposed to be silken, and therefore more soft and pudding like in texture, Brandy did want her tofu to be a bit more firm, so she simply let the ramekins cool down in the water, then dropped the tofu into a dish lined with cheese cloth and quickly drained off some of the excess moisture by gently squeezing the cloth around the tofu.  She then placed the tofu back into the ramekins, covered them in plastic wrap, and placed a ramekin filled with uncooked rice on top of that so as to force a little more moisture out of the tofu and have it form a smooth surface.  This process gave her just the texture she was looking for, even though she didn't have access to a proper tofu press.

Right after making the tofu, Brandy topped some of it off with a salted caramel sauce, enjoying its custard like texture and its creamy taste.  "Why, this could be a lovely dessert for my vegan friends," she mused, "Maybe add a bit of coco powder and sugar to make it into a sort of chocolate custard... that would be delicious!"  But it was a true stroke of genius that hit Brandy when she decided to use the tofu in a seasonal smoothie she could enjoy on Thanksgiving morning.  Combining in a blender one ramekin of silken tofu (about 1/2 a cup's worth) with a 1/2 cup of orange juice, a 1/2 cup of carrot juice, and a table spoon of either pumpkin pie or chai spice (Brandy had both on hand and reported that either worked beautifully), Brandy whipped up a creamy, warming, delightful smoothie that kept her energized well into the afternoon.

Remembering this smoothie concoction (which, because she used the tofu, was not only vegan, but also gluten free, GMO free, and preservative free), Brandy nodded to herself and closed the fridge, now fully mentally prepared for the onslaught of cooking that was to come.

The writers of this blog were sent products free of charge in order to facilitate the writing of this post.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Pinstripes or Frying Pan Alley

The Slow and Savory Review

A few weeks ago when Bunny visited the new King's Bowl in Lincoln Park, something ignited in Brandy's mind.  "I used to bowl," she told Bunny later, "And I was bloody good at it too.  I was once one strike away from a perfect game, but got distracted by some noisy video game in the corner.  That's the thing with bowling alley's today, there's just too many flashing lights and shiny things for me to be able to concentrate on the game.  I suppose the same could be said about most everything these days; there's just far too many glittering distractions in this world."

Having acquired a taste for her old favorite past time, Brandy began to seek out some other bowling options, landing on Pinstripes in River East, an old fashioned bowling and bocce complex with not only a full bar and restaurant attached, but a rather impressive sounding brunch buffet.  "Brunch and bowling?" Brandy exclaimed, "I could hardly ask for anything more!"

The entrance to Pinstripes was sunny and open, leading off into the bar on one side, some of the lanes on the other, and the restaurant at the back.  The glass front to the establishment meant that the space was sunny and bright and the tastefully done decor of warm woods, pops of floral colors, and exposed brick walls made for a comfortable, yet thankfully for Brandy, non-distracting atmosphere.  The warm woods carried through into the bowling lanes, both on the ground floor and on the second basement level, which Brandy was delighted to see had none of the modern trappings of colored lights, sparkling balls, or flashing screens.  "There we go!" she chortled, "Just what I wanted, some distraction free lanes!  But first, a little nosh, I think, just to warm up the old bones."

The lush buffet had been laid out at the back of the room with several stations being featured.  The first section that caught Brandy's eye was the hot foods, which contained some standard breakfast fair like scrambled eggs, bacon, eggs, and sausages, but also a fair amount of more lunch appropriate items.  The Mac and Cheese was particularly creamy and delicious, with the pasta being perfectly cooked and not mushy at all, and some sauteed vegetables provided Brandy with the feeling of eating something healthy after consuming a few twice baked potatoes, which were loaded with bacon and sour cream.  The pizzas seemed a little out of place until Brandy realized that the things were being prepared by hand and wood fired in a large over at the front of the dining room.

In the cold foods section, Brandy was again surprised to see more than just a few salads on offer.  A pair of fresh bruschettas, one topped with tomato and the other with artichoke, lead the way, then came the Caesar and Market salads, pasta salad, and even fresh seafood with peel and eat shrimp and smoked salmon.  The sweeter side of the cold foods featured some pretty standard looking bagels and muffins, but also a rather enticing yogurt parfait with fresh strawberries and coconut granola.

There were several manned stations as well, such as the carving station, where a chef hand carved some roasted turkey, fresh baked fish, and prime rib to order, and the Omelette station, where a duo of friendly chefs cooked up customized eggs with the patron's choice of fresh veggies and cheeses.  Best of all was the Waffle station, where mini waffles were created to order and topped with a variety of delectable toppings, such as whipped Nutella, Balsamic cream, fresh cut strawberries, and Bananas Foster rum caramel.  Brandy absolutely adored these soft little waffles and their accompaniments, contemplating even going back up a few times to try even more flavor combinations.

The only reason she decided not to revisit the waffle station was because of the massive dessert table.  There were a few pastries that looked promising, like a creme brulee cheesecake and decadent flour-less chocolate cake, but the real showstopper was the massive chocolate fountain.  Diners had been supplied with a bevy of choices for dousing, like hand made marshmallows, Rice Krispie treats, fresh fruit, and even red licorice whips.  Brandy had a little too much fun dipping item after item into the chocolatey cascade, resisting the urge to throw caution to the wind and simply put her whole face under the thing.  "Nature has its own wonders, but nothing quite as magical as a chocolate waterfall," she sighed, thrusting another few treats into the velvet flow.

After such a filling and surprisingly well curated buffet brunch (not too mention a full morning of bottomless mimosas), Brandy found that she actually wasn't in a fit state for physical activity, and so had to forgo her original purpose for the visit, waiting to bowl a game on another day.  The friendly staff did a great job at creating a relaxed atmosphere, and the price tag of only $28 a person was almost a steal when the quality of the food was considered.  Though there were plenty of traditional brunch buffet offerings, Brandy felt there was enough originality scattered in to make this one a great option for families or bigger parties who might want a variety of goodies to choose from.  "I may be incapable of throwing a turkey right now," Brandy said to a small child while standing at the chocolate fountain, "But at least I can say I ate one.  And also a fish.  And some cow.  And quite a few shrimp.  I bet no one's ever bowled a shrimp before!  Ha!" to which the small child withdrew his strawberry from the chocolate and backed away from her.

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
Pinstripes Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Festival Recap: Ping Pong Ball and LuxeHome Wine and Food Event

It's not every day a famous chef turns up on one's doorstep to give one cookies.  It's not every day one sees four chefs prepare some extraordinary dishes and then play each other in a bitter ping pong tournament.  It's not every day one is able to wander about a Chicago landmark after hours, sampling plates from as many restaurants as possible.  For Brandy, these things may not happen every day, but some times they do seem to happen every week, as she is continually surprised by the frequency, quality, and creativity behind some of Chicago's biggest food events.

A few weeks ago, Brandy had the privilege of attending the Third Annual Ping Pong Ball at the Hard Rock Hotel.  The event, which benefits Jackson Chance, a charity that provides travel assistance and other help for families with children in neonatal intensive care units, for the first time partnered with The Trotter Project, bringing in four all star chefs to host the pre-event VIP reception.

As a preview to the event, Brandy had the extreme joy to be visited by one of these chefs, Richie Farina, formerly of her beloved MOTO and a Top Chef contestant.  Richie was kind enough to bring Brandy some hand made ping pong paddle cookies sporting the logo for The Trotter Project, and organization founded by former Charlie Trotter proteges that aims to mentor and inspire future generations of chefs. It was Chef Farina who drew smiles from the crowds at the VIP reception, not just because of his amazing octopus dish with basil pesto, but because he came dressed to compete against his contemporaries, Bill Kim (UrbanBelly, BellyQ, BellyShack), Phillip Foss (El Ideas) and Art Smith (Table 52) in a friendly round of ping pong.  After the chefs had their turn, the ping pong tournament began in earnest with regular people from across the city and also some professionals participating, all while chowing down on food from Chuck's (one of the Hard Rock Hotel's signature restaurants) like Chicago Dog Pizza, Iron Chef Sliders, and Loaded Tater Tots.  The tournament combined with a silent auction produced over $200,000 for Jackson Chance.

Similarly, Brandy was recently introduced to the LuxeHome Chill Wine and Culinary Event, held inside Merchandise Mart and benefiting The Lynn Sage Foundation, Saturday Place, and the Respiratory Health Association.  Over 50 restaurants participated in this incredible night as well as dozens of wineries.  "Why, this seems to be Chicago Gourmet all over again, but in doors and with only two hours to explore!" Brandy exclaimed once she had been set loose inside the massive complex.

While wandering around to get the lay of the land, one word came to Brandy's mind: whimsy.  Multicolored lights shone in every hallway, pockets of live music were everywhere (string quartets, jazz bands, pianists, singers, even a mariachi band and a trio of tuba players), a team of people riding through the crowds on gigantic bicycles pouring wine samples, women on stilts dressed in ivy and flowers who posed outside the showrooms like living sculptures, and even a woman in a gorgeous Vegas style gold dress that doubled as a dessert table.  Around every corner was some new delight, some new wonder, and it didn't take long for Brandy to become utterly enchanted and delighted by everything.

As for the food, stations were simply everywhere.  Restaurants set up beautiful displays inside the already posh showrooms, making them feel less like food festival participants and more like living museum displays.  This arrangement worked two fold; the chefs had actual equipment to work with, meaning not only could many of them cook their creations live, but it also meant that the equipment got showcased as well for the crowds of attendees.

Brandy had many favorite bites from the night: The Chopping Block lead the way with braised short ribs and a sage risotto cake with pickled onion and pine nuts, Jordan's Food of Distinction with a sweet and savory fall tart with pear, fig, brie, and cherry, 25 Degrees came with a scrumptious beef slider topped with fontina and blue cheese, bacon, onion, and arugula,  Osteria La Madia presented a chicken liver mouse filled cream puff, Farmhouse had their butternut squash soup with ginger and pepita brittle, and The Florentine plated a perfect ricotta gnudi with apples, truffle, panchetta, and pecorino cheese.  There were plenty of sweets to be had as well, like chocolate truffles with sea salt from the Cayman Islands tourist board, Bistronamic's infamous "candy bar" with hazelnuts and orange sauce, a chocolate ganche with olive oil and salt from Ada St., and Brandy's favorite of the night, a fudge brownie pie with coconut caramel and a pecan crunch from State and Lake.  Along with the wine, several cocktails were served as well, with Brandy's favorite coming from Spritzology with the simple, yet evocative name "Fall in a Glass."

"But I need more time!" Brandy groaned as she began to feel full with only an hour left in the evening, and soon she found herself fantasizing about running to a drug store down the road to buy plastic containers so she could wrap up what she couldn't fit into her gut for later.  "There's only one solution to this problem," she reasoned, "Just as I've learned my strategy with Chicago Gourmet, I'm just going to have to come back next year with a game plan.  Now all I need is a blue print of Merchandise Mart and some more comfortable shoes..."

Make sure to check out loads more pictures from the events on Bunny and Brandy's Facebook page.

The writers of this blog were invited to attend the mentioned events free of charge in order to facilitate the writing of this post.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Masterpiece Eat-a-ter: Ina's Kitchen Cookbook Review

If there is one person in this world that could deserve the title Queen of Breakfast more than Bunny or Brandy, it is most definitely Ina Pinkney.  Since Ina closed down her signature restaurant in 2013, there has been a hole in the Chicago brunch world that no amount of bottomless mimosas and make-your-own-Bloody-Mary's can fill up.  Her influence is still felt so strongly that other chefs have put her dishes on their brunch menus in memorial to that once sacred bastion of breakfast that was Ina's, but there really is nothing like the thought and love put into everything by the great lady herself.

This is why when Brandy heard that Ina's 2013 cookbook (published around the time she closed her restaurant as a sort of farewell to her fans), Ina's Kitchen: Memories and Recipes from the Breakfast Queen, was going to be re-released in paperback, she realized that this was the way for her to recapture some of Ina's magic for herself.  "I have one requirement of this cookbook," Brandy said as she handled the volumn, "I want the recipe for those Heavenly Hots!  Please, in the name of bacon, eggs, and all that is holy," and upon opening the book, the pages, as though turned by a divine hand, flipped right to that sacred recipe and Brandy was sold (or rather the book was Brandy).

The book, as Brandy found out, was actually half cookbook and half memoir with Ina spinning her life story, from her humble beginnings in Brooklyn in the 40's and 50's, learning a love of food from the men in her life (her father and both grandfathers), to her taboo defying marriage to an African American man in the 60's, and of course her move to and love affair with the city of Chicago in the 70's.

The casual way the recipes were written made Brandy feel as if she were actually following the hand written recipes of a friend rather than a polished publication, and the pictures, while gorgeous, weren't overly staged as to look unrealistic.  Brandy simply had a ball working her way through all of Ina's classic American comfort foods, from the Northeastern specialty that is Scrapple (a corn meal cake, sort of like polenta, that is browned in a skillet) to the decadent Baked French toast and the show stopping Pasta Fritatta, a dish so huge that it was cooked in a spring form cake pan.  The recipes were amazingly easy to follow with stunning results that actually looked like the pictures in the book, a feat Brandy has rarely ever managed to accomplish.  Best of all was of course the recipe for those treasured Heavenly Hots, which were so simple to prepare and so delicious that many didn't even make it to the serving platter, as Brandy kept repeatedly "testing" them.

Because she wanted to share a little bit of the joy in Ina's creations, Brandy selected for her readers the Gingerbread Pancakes, a dish so comforting that it tastes like Christmas on a plate.  Try out the recipe to see just how easy and amazing Ina's recipes are, and then make sure to pick up the book in its original hardback or the new paperback version.

The writers of this blog were sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Gingerbread Pancakes
Yield: about 20 - 3" pancakes

Preheat oven to 200 F.

Dry Ingredients
5 oz. Flour, all purpose
½ c. Sugar
½ c. Potato starch (see note below)
1 oz. Flour, whole wheat
1 tsp. Baking soda
1 tsp. Ginger, ground
1 tsp. Cloves, ground
1 tsp. Dry mustard
¼ tsp. Pumpkin pie spice
½ tsp. Salt

Wet Ingredients
2 c. Buttermilk
½ c. Sour cream
2 Eggs, large
¼ c. Vegetable oil
2 Tbsp. Molasses

1. Sift all dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl and stir vigorously.
2. Combine all wet ingredients and mix until well blended.
3. Stir wet ingredients into flour mixture and blend well without overmixing.
4. Heat non-stick pan or griddle over medium-high heat and brush with oil.
5. Pour ¼ c. of batter onto the griddle for each pancake.
6. Cook until bubbles appear on the tops—about 3 minutes. Turn over and cook about 1 minute more.
7. Place pancakes, uncovered, on an oven-safe platter in the oven until all pancakes are made.
8. I serve these with a lemon cream. Fold your favorite lemon curd into whipped cream until you reach your desired level of tartness.

NOTE: You can find potato starch (not flour) in a box in the Jewish food section of your supermarket. It might also be in the natural food area.

Reprinted with permission from Ina’s Kitchen by Ina Pinkney, Agate Midway, 2015.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Postcards from Bunny: King's Bowl, Lyfe Kitchen, and Earls Kitchen & Bar open at NewCity

"Things are changing around here every day, Bunny, you'd be surprised," Brandy told her friend over the phone, "Why just down in Lincoln Park there's a new restaurant opening every day in the NewCity complex.  I just visited Yard House, but there are three or four other spots all ready to open their doors any moment."  "Really?  Oh, I must stop in the next time I'm in between flights to look into things.  It makes me so sad to not be able to see what's going on out there!" replied Bunny.

And it just so happened that soon after that conversation Bunny was able to stop into Chicago for a single evening, and following her friend's advice, she headed to the newly opened NewCity plaza to see what all the fuss was about, her first stop being King's Bowling.

At the front of King's was Max and Leo's, a relaxed pizzeria serving flat breads, wings, and classic cocktails in a swinging bistro-like atmosphere.  Bunny simply adored the Brooksy Pizza with grilled chicken, caramelized onions, mushrooms, mozzarella, and mascapone, as well as the delectable Honey Hot Habanero Wings with their sweet and spicy glaze.  After a few munchies in the front lounge area, Bunny headed into the main area of Kings, which greeted customers with bright red vinyl booths, black-light lit bowling lanes, and what they claimed to be the world's fourth longest bar with sparkling black and gold surfaces and a bartender every three feet.  The whole place had a vibrant, retro feel that put a smile instantly on Bunny's face.

Photo courtesy of King's Bowl
Photo courtesy of King's Bowl
A few other games were scattered around the room, like pool tables, air hockey, and shuffle board.  The back of the location marked off a small area with four more lanes that smallr parties could reserved for private events.  Bunny sampled a little bit of everything, from the surprisingly sophisticated Maple Glazed Scallops and Steak Tips with garlic mashed potatoes, to unique bites like BBQ Pulled Pork Wontons, Southwestern Spring Rolls, and Fried Mac and Cheese Bites, and classic sandwiches with original twists like a fresh Mozzarella Panini, a Turkey, Cranberry, and Brie club, and most intriguingly, a burger called the Don't Knock it 'till Ya Tried It with peanut butter, bacon, pineapple, and sriracha.  The cocktails too had smile inducing concepts, like the One Phish, Two Phish; a fruity, blue colored concoction served in a giant bowl glass with red candy fish swimming in it, the Pop, Rock, and Roll Martini with a fresh flavor and a popping candy rim, and the "Dude," an homage to a certain cocktail made famous by a certain movie, made with chocolate milk liqueur, coffee liqueur, and vodka.  Not only was everything she tasted surprisingly delicious, Bunny was also impressed that as much as possible was done in house, from the sauces to the drink mixes.

Going in for some lighter fair next, Bunny headed into the newest Lyfe Kitchen location across the way.  This location not only featured some of Brandy's favorite dishes, like the Art's UnFried Chicken with butternut squash, cranberries, and Brussels sprouts, or the irresistible flat breads in varieties like Wild Mushroom, BBQ Chicken, and Margarita, but also an actual little bar at the front where Lyfe bartenders served up a variety of their often overlooked cocktails.  Just as the food is always under 600 calories per plate, the cocktails are never over 200 calories, meaning Bunny could indulge a little without feeling too guilty.  The Michigan Mule was her favorite of the cocktails for its refreshing flavor that stayed crisp and not syrupy.  There was also seasonal beers on tap with a concentration of local brewers like Two Brothers as well as a selection of carefully curated wines and even happy hour specials (another change that happened while Bunny was away).

Finally, Bunny ended up at Earls Kitchen and Bar, a Canadian restaurant that focuses on slick, whimsical cocktails and eclectic, thoughtful food in a casual fine dining atmosphere.  Everything about the design of Earls fascinated Bunny, from the bright, but unoffensive lighting to the park bench seating around the bar, and especially the art work which used Chicago's rich tradition of blues and jazz as inspiration, resulting in a stunning portrait of Muddy Waters made up of his lyrics and a back wall covered in three dimensional trumpets over a water color background.   The cocktails were irresistibly adorable, yet sophisticated, with mixtures like the strangely delightful lemon and chocolate flavored Century Sour, which came emblazoned with the word "Flawless" on this egg white foam top, the Cabin Fever with its almost tropical flavor hilariously out of place in a presentation of a tin camping mug, a pine cone, and a sprig of mint, or the crowd pleasing Silly Wabbit made from carrot juice and vodka with a green sugar rim.  The food was very much in the same vein, keeping accessible dishes like steaks, burgers, sandwiches, and pastas at the forefront, but spicing things up with little surprises, such as the Roasted Corn and Poblano Cheese dip with fried naan bread, gorgeous little Tuna Tostadas (which Brandy actually sampled at the Food and Wine festival), and a downright sinful Sticky Toffee Chocolate Pudding, that less resembled the English dessert of Bunny's youth and more a gigantic inside out lava cake.

"You were right, things certainly have changed!" Bunny exclaimed to Brandy as she wrapped up her journey, "I don't remember ever being able to access so many different restaurants all in one spot!  Thank goodness they were that close to each other too, otherwise the three cocktails I had at each stop might have gotten me into some trouble by the end of the night!"

The writers of this blog were granted access to all of the mentioned restaurants and events free of charge in order to facilitate the writing of this post.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Dinner at Travelle Kitchen + Bar

Taking a little break from her regular brunching adventures, Brandy recently had the chance sample some of the new dinner menu at Travelle Kitchen + Bar, the chic, fine dining restaurant on the second floor of the Langham Hotel.  The restaurant up until a month ago boasted a menu of mainly Mediterranean inspired dishes, but has now transitioned to more approachable American classics.  Executive Chef Tim Graham and Pastry Chef Scott Green have worked hard at creating dishes that are comfortable and familiar with a seasonal mind, but still have an element of elevation.

Sitting down at the table in the middle of the room, surrounded by a glass wall encasing some beautifully lit wine racks, Brandy was greeted by the fresh scent from a bouquet of herbs that had been set on each plate.  She loved this touch, as it not only drew the attention to the table setting and then to the rest of the sparkling, sophisticated decor, but also set the tone for the fresh food ahead.

To begin the meal, Brandy perused the cocktail menu, recently developed by brand new beverage director, Priscilla Young.  The menu (referred to as a "library" because cocktails will be continually added to it without any being taken off) drew inspiration from the classics and Midwest flavors.  Brandy began with The Clover Club, a soft and sweet raspberry flavored drink served in a delicate gimlet glass.  Secondly, Brandy sampled something a little more bold with the Smoke, Metal, and Wood.  This cocktail came served in a metal cup on a wooden board, garnished with a slice of orange and a rosemary sprig, and was infused table side with the scent of smoked cloves, a flavor that strangely grew stronger as she sipped, which Brandy simply adored as it made her think of sitting beside a roaring fire in the winter time.  Throughout the evening, several more drinks were brought to the table, like a fruity burgundy, a zippy champagne, and a cocktail that was so secret it wasn't even on the menu yet, but came served in a giant copper pineapple with a couple of twirly straws and a flaming lime wedge on top.

First to the table were a couple of flatbreads: one with bacon, Gruyere, and braised fennel, and the other with cippolini onions, kale, and beer battered crispies.  The texture of both flatbreads was just perfect with a thin, chewy crust which let the bold flavors really shine.  The first flat bread with the bacon was a lovely mix of smoky bacon, creamy cheese, and sweet onions, while the second not only combined sweet, spicy, and savory flavors, but was also a brilliant mix of soft and crispy textures.

The next course Brandy chose was the Field Squash Soup.  The vibrant soup had been bedecked with a powerful chili oil that Brandy hadn't been ready for, sweetened with pear and cranberry, and textured with a sprinkling of granola.  The soup's flavor was deep, earthy, and rich without being overly heavy.  The tart little bites of cranberry really helped to keep things exciting and the granola pieces at the bottom of the bowl had Brandy digging through the soup in anticipation of the next little bit of crunch.

For the entree, Brandy picked the Casareccia Pasta and was instantly glad she had.  Chef Tim Graham himself carted out a giant wheel of Parmesan cheese which he tossed the tube shaped pasta in along with a yellow tomato sauce and then topped the dish a generous helping of herbed ricotta.  The bite on the hand rolled pasta was just perfectly al dente and the sauce had a lovely creamy mouth feel, no doubt from having been infused with the nutty cheese.  The ricotta actually helped to lighten up the dish a bit, providing a bit of soft and fluffy texture as well as a freshness from the infused herbs.

Lastly came the much anticipated dessert.  Having become a fan of Chef Scott Green's sweet creations while sampling them at various events, Brandy was probably most excited to see what he had to offer.  She decided on the Chocolate Cake, a dish she had already previewed a few weeks ago at the Taste of the Nation event, but couldn't wait to try again.  The cake was dense and moist with a rich bittersweet chocolate flavor and was layered with ganache that was at least an inch thick.  The cake had been topped with a brown butter coconut frosting reminiscent of a German chocolate cake, which made Brandy smile with a flood of nostalgia for her own mother's baked goods.  On the side was more of the coconut frosting on top of a corn flake crunch that Brandy could have gladly eaten a bowl of, covered in chocolate milk.

All in all, the dinner of elevated American classics left Brandy with a warm and fuzzy feeling in both her belly and her soul.  "If this place wasn't so posh I'd consider arriving for my next meal wearing nothing but a fleece blanket around my shoulders and a pair of cashmere slippers on my feet.  Perhaps if I add a few pieces of jewelry to the mix, no one will be any the wiser."

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

Travelle Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato