Friday, August 29, 2014

Buzz Burgers, Barrels, and Beer or Why Bother with Buns?

The Slow and Savory Review

The first time Brandy had a real American cheeseburger, she was instantly in love.  Yes, it was fast food, yes it was greasy, yes it was not the normal gourmet experience she was used to, but by God was it tasty.  "I remember the perfect tang of the pickles, the sweetness of the ketchup, the soft bun, the melty cheese, the bite of the mustard... all coming together in perfect harmony with the beef.  It was heaven."  In fact, the burger inspired Brandy's very first trip to America, though as she gorged herself from one end of the country to another, eating every burger she could get her hands on, she started to get bored.  "My brain knew these things were still the same mix of deliciousness I had once coveted, but my tongue seemed less convinced."  So she slowed down on her burger consumption, only allowing herself to have one every so often so as to keep them special.

Recently, Brandy has started to take notice of a lot of fashionable burgers popping up all over the country, which has given her pause.  "I never thought there was anything wrong with the old fashioned kind of burger, but some of these new fangled concoctions do sound bloody intriguing!" she has been known to comment.  A newer burger joint in the North Center neighborhood called Buzz Burgers, Barrels, and Beer professes to be on the cutting edge of burger couture, so Brandy knew she had to check them out and satisfy her eternal craving for America's favorite sandwich.

Though the outside of Buzz looked a little nondescript, the inside was surprisingly refined with lots of dark, polished wood surfaces.  Other than the slightly dim day time lighting, the set up was pretty typical pub chic with booths, high tables, and a long bar towards the back with television sets above it, playing various sports.  "Seems like it would be quite cozy on a cold winter night," Brandy mused, taking a table by the window to watch the rain.

Glancing at the menu, the first thing to catch Brandy's attention was the cocktails.  "This price can't be right!" she said, switching her regular reading glasses to her super strength reading glasses.  But after calling over her server to confirm what she was seeing, she finally accepted that the price on the menu was correct: brunch cocktails were $3.  This included mimosas, bloody marys, and screwdrivers, apparently, and although these drinks were obviously not being made with top shelf stuff, there was almost no beating the price anywhere in town.

The menu of burgers was so appealing that Brandy simply could not choose just one, especially as two of the burgers were screaming to be tried.  Pointing slyly to the menu and explaining that she simply had to try that much food for the sake of burger eaters everywhere and that she also had a strict rule about savory and sweet foods, Brandy placed her order.

First up was a side of Hand Cut Fries, which came served with not only with some ketchup, but also a truffle aioli, which Brandy thought was a nice addition.  The fries had a perfect thickness and texture, with a crisp exterior and a fluffy interior.  "It's good to see they're not just throwing some generic frozen fries onto the table," Brandy said, "But I could do with some more of this truffle aioli!"

As a variation on the fries, Brandy also ordered the Hipster Poutine.  Brandy was a little disappointed to see that this was not really a poutine, but more along the lines of chili cheese fries, which is perhaps why they were called "hipster."  Instead of gravy, the fries had been topped with something called "sauce of a dozen spices," which while delicious, served more as a seasoning for the fries than a dressing.  There were no cheese curds (the ultimate sin in Brandy's mind), but a mix of various cheeses had been melted onto the top of fries, making them gooey and even more decadent.  The fries were also topped off with some green onions, Tasso ham, and bacon, which gave them nice bits of texture and smokiness.

Starting with her first burger, Brandy dug into the infamous Ramen Burger, a dish that was popularized in California last summer and has somehow only now made its way to Chicago.  Instead of a traditional bun, this burger had two rounds of deep fried ramen noodles, which while not the most ideal means of burger containment, provided a really unique crunch.  The meat on the burger was actually a very good quality kobe beef, which meant the texture was soft and succulent.  The toppings included an aged cheddar, arugula, sun dried tomato, Sriracha, and a fried egg.  Pressing down the ramen bun caused the egg to burst immediately, though sadly the yolk seemed to just drip through the burger and onto the plate, making the bottom bun soggy and loosing the velvetiness it could have lent to the burger.  The egg was actually very salty, causing Brandy to take sips of her drink between every few bites, and although she had braced herself for the hot sauce, there was only one bite that she could even detect that it was there.

Lastly, since the Ramen Burger served as her savory, Brandy countered it with the Donut Burger.  This delicacy was supposedly a Southern invention, originally made with a Krispy Kreme glazed donuts in place of the bun.  The burger this time was made with Angus beef, which made it a more heavy and deeply flavored, though it was a little difficult to taste the meat underneath a heavy handed, yet not unwelcome douse of housemade sweet ketchup, which almost resembled more of a barbecue sauce.  "It's rather smart of them to have paired the donuts with a sweeter sauce," Brandy smiled, "Going more savory would have been folly."  Also adding to the sweetness were some caramelized strawberries, but swinging back into the savory direction was some bacon, pepper jack cheese, and just a little bit more of that truffle aioli.  The thing that Brandy appreciated most about the burger was the fact that the top donut had been slightly charred, giving it not only a burnt sugar taste, but also a smokiness that matched well with the dish's more savory aspects.

After bidding goodbye to her sweetly talkative server, Brandy waddled off outside into the rain, feeling as full as she ever had, but quite satisfied with her little burger adventure.  "Sometimes, it's nice to reacquaint one's self with an old favorite," she said, "It's like suddenly being reminded why you fell in love with someone you've been with for years.  There's nothing wrong with a little variety, after all."

The Short and Sweet Review

Buzz on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Social Media Update! Do you follow Bunny and Brandy?

Greetings dear readers!  We just wanted to take this brief opportunity to update you on the many places Bunny and Brandy have spread their love of brunch across the web!  Some of these outlets are old news and some are new to the game, so make sure to check them all out for live streams from Bunny and Brandy's adventures and specially curated brunch recommendations!

NEW! Instagram: @bunnyandbrandy

NEW!  Pintrest:

Partner sites where Bunny and Brandy create exclusive content for the brunch loving public!



The Besty:


Friday, August 22, 2014

River Roast or Smoke House on the Water

The Slow and Savory Review

Being a brunch expert certainly has its perks on occasion.  For instance, that kind of clout can often score one invitations to some of the most exciting and delicious events around town, but what Brandy really loves is when she gets to sample a brand new menu at a recently launched brunch service.  "It makes me feel like I'm a spy, in a way," Brandy slyly grins, "I get to go into a new situation and gather information covertly, then make a report about it to the masses.  In a way, I'm a bit of a hero.  I save the brunch going public from wasting their time and money!"

Regardless of Brandy's inflated ego, she recently got an invite to check out River Roast, one of Chicago's newest Southern comfort food restaurants, headed by Chef Tony Mantuano (of Spiaggia and Terzo Piano) and Chef John Hogan.  River Roast boasts not only a bounty of contemporary American fair with a relaxed tavern atmosphere, but also some of the most extraordinary dining views in the city, as the restaurant is located right on the river at the LaSalle Street Bridge.  The upstairs area is more trendy and lounge like, where as the downstairs looks more warm and friendly, with an open kitchen that almost resembles a market, displaying oodles of fresh fruit and veggies which add splashes of color to the otherwise gold toned wood dominated room.  The patio is where the best views can certainly be found, as it faces directly out to the river, where diners can watch all manner of boats float by.  Brandy was also delighted to find out that for brunch, River Roast brings in local blues bands to play for the patrons.  "Nothing like a little live music with your bacon and eggs," as she always likes to say.

Brandy arrived to find a group of some of her fellow food bloggers seated banquet style in the downstairs dining room ("How did I know they were bloggers?  They were all on their phones," Brandy said.).  The morning started off with an absolutely perfect mimosa.  Bright, flavorful, but not too acidic or sweet, everyone at the table simply could not stop fawning over the cocktail.  "What's your secret?" One of the brunch guests asked a server.  "Lots of booze," the server responded.  "Cheers to that!" Brandy toasted.

The first food to the table was a Housemade Biscuit and Honey.  The biscuit was flaky perfection with a good, rich buttery flavor, but Brandy absolutely adored the tiny honey pot and mini dipper that came with it.

Next was the Ploughman's Platter, loaded with choice cuts of cured meat, head cheese, dried cranberries, tiny pickles, toasted sourdough slices, several blobs of different mustards, and a small salad with a soft boiled egg.  Brandy was glad to see an ode to her British roots presented here, though for a proper Ploughman's, she would have liked to see some cheese and perhaps a few apple slices.  "This is a fine charcuterie selection, don't get me wrong," she said, "Just maybe not a traditional Ploughman's like I'm used to."  Still, Brandy loved the variety of textures on the platter, from the crisp pickles to the soft head cheese and the chewy, sweet cranberries.

After the table was left to snack on that for a while, the torrent of food began to arrive.  For side dishes, the servers brought out tiny skillets with Housemade Breakfast Sausage, which was fatty, rich, and well spiced.  The surprise star of the table were the Crispy Potatoes, which almost everyone had a second helping of.  True to their name, the potatoes were crackly crisp, yet light and not greasy at all.

The first of the two entrees was the Biscuits and Gravy.  Utilizing the same flaky, buttery biscuits, the dish was then doused in a gravy made with pork and topped with a sunny side up egg.  The gravy was very nicely seasoned, just enough to wake up the palate, and the richness of the pork made the dish very filling.

Lastly, the dish that made the table groan for mercy was the Savory Tart.  "It's a quiche, surely?" Brandy questioned when she laid eyes on it.  "Oh, it's more than a quiche," the server said, "This is more cream than egg, really."  The filling had been swirled with Swiss chard and dotted with cubes of bacon lardon, giving it a beautiful, yet rustic appearance.  The tart was so tender that Brandy found it difficult to cut and lift a piece from it's dish, and so throwing all decorum aside, she simply dug her fork into the thing and scooped up gobs of the creamy, fluffy filling and the flaky, buttery crust.  The filing was indeed more indulgently creamy than a typical quiche, as it had a good deal of sheep's milk cheese mixed into the almost souffle like inside.  "It feels like I'm eating pure butter...and I like it," as Brandy said.  The bacon lardons gave a good bit of smokiness and chew to the tart, and the Swiss chard lent a little tang and bitterness in a very pleasant sort of way that cut through the silk texture.

After thoroughly stuffing their faces, the attendees were then treated to an architectural tour from Wendella Boats, which picked them up right from the dock at the restaurant.  Although Brandy has done similar tours several times now since moving to Chicago, the wonder and majesty of the city she now calls home never seems to wain.  The day was rather foggy and unseasonably cool, but that didn't stop Brandy from snapping away at the mythical buildings that dominate the landscape of this wonderful city.

Though Brandy was all but ready for a nap when the boat arrived back at the restaurant, she couldn't help but grab a seat out on the patio, order one more drink, and relax to the blues band as she watched a fleet of kayakers row their way down stream.  "Comfort food indeed!" she said to no one in particular, "I'm beginning to feel a little too comfortable.  They may have to pry this seat away from my cold, hard bum if they want it back for dinner service."

Make sure to check Bunny and Brandy's Facebook Page for more pictures from the brunch and the boat tour!

The Short and Sweet Review
River Roast on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Postcards from Bunny: Step Up Women's Network Shine and Dine

If there's one thing Bunny and Brandy do better than eating, it's eating for a cause.  Recently, Our Ladies were invited to attend a rather extraordinary event held at the stunningly beautiful Bridgeport Arts Center's Skyline Loft, which not only boasts the most impressive elevator ride in Chicago next to the Willis Tower, but also showcases extraordinary views of the downtown skyline.  Step Up Women's Network hosted their 4th annual Shine & Dine dinner in order to both honor the girls they help, but also to raise some money for their programs by offering Chicago foodies a spectacular array of tastes from some of the top restaurants in town.  "For once I can gorge myself silly and feel good about it!" Brandy said upon hearing about the event from Bunny (who was back in Chicago for a brief moment while on her way explore a new lead on the lost continent of Atlantis).

Step Up Women's Network is a non profit organization founded on the principal of helping women and girls to achieve their true potential through community service, mentoring, after school programs, and networking events.  They have branches not only in Chicago, but also in New York and Los Angeles, all of which continuously host events throughout the year that help connect professional women with each other and with girls looking to find their place in the world.

The Shine & Dine gala this year honored both Catherine De Orio of Check Please! as well as one of their alumnna, Kenia Rodriguez, who stood as living proof of the power that Step Up has to propel young girls towards achieving their dreams.  There was also a massive silent auction with amazing prizes like an MVP experience at a White Sox game, a wine tasting retreat, and a litany of spa treatments.  "Where do I sign up to win all of these things?" Brandy kept asking the attendants, "No dear, I don't want just the one thing, I'd like all of them.  Isn't there some kind of massive list I can join?"

Of course, the food was a huge part of the evening.  The bars served a trio of specially crafted Ciroc cocktails, including one made with pineapple juice and lime that Brandy simply could not put down.  Passed bites circulated the room courtesy of Paramount Events, such as gorgeous little watermelon cups with feta cheese, mini grilled cheese sandwiches, and bacon wrapped dates.  Stations around the room hosted the various participating restaurants, who had certainly brought their finest out for the night.  Farmhouse Evanston served Mini Corn Cakes with a Jalapeno Relish, which actually went perfectly with their neighbor station, Chicago Q, which were serving Pulled Pork Sliders with a choice of some of their signature sauces.  Comfort food seemed to be the name of the game for a lot of the stations, as Honey Butter Fried Chicken served a Buffalo Chicken with Creamy Grits and RL Restaurant (RL stands for Ralph Lauren, as the restaurant stands directly next store the the designer's flagship location on Michigan Ave.) served up a Beer Braised Short Rib Sandwich.  Opart Thai House was one of the crowd favorites of the evening, serving a spicy and sweet dish called Tiger Cry Beef as well as their signature Pad Thai with a customizable variety of toppings, while Fillini Bar and Restaurant showed their Italian pride with a Rigatoni in Creamy Tomato Sauce topped with Yellow Fin Tuna and ZED451 brought their signature Fire Roasted Borsin Stuffed Peppadews and S'mores Pie Skewers, which Brandy recognized from seeing them at Chicago Gourmet last year.  On the sweet side, Vanille Patisserie presented Salted Caramel Macaroons as well as mini Chocolate Cup Cakes, Table Fifty-Two had a Blueberry and Peach Shortcake, and nUM yUMMIES passed around little bites like Chocolate Covered Raspberry Infused Pretzel Sticks and Chocolate Popcorn.

Though the food was beautiful and tasty to boot and the atmosphere was buzzing and alive, the real stars of the evening were the school aged girls who circled the room, taking pictures with attendees and proving to be the best kind of advertisement for the true meaning of the evening.  Bunny and Brandy were certainly honored to learn about this awesome organization and will most certainly be reserving tickets for next year's event!  Keep your eyes peeled on the Step Up Women's Network to be among the first to know when tickets go on sale, or make a donation in the mean time to this brilliant, positive organization.

Access to this event was granted to the writers of this blog at no charge in order to facilitate the writing of this post.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Siena Tavern or Bountiful Brunching Beauty

The Slow and Savory Review

One of the things Brandy likes best about brunch is that, given the right circumstances, it can be just as good whether it's had at a cheap greasy spoon or at the finest and most expensive hotel.  "I've paid $5 for brilliant plates and upwards of $25 for some absolute dreck," Brandy will explain, "Price is not necessarily an indication of  how good your meal will be.  In my experience, often times it's just an indication of the chef's ego."

Brandy decided to prove this point to her dear friend Bailey Blue by taking her along to Siena Tavern in River North for brunch.  Siena Tavern is one of several current ventures in Chicago headed by Top Chef alum Fabio Viviani, this one focusing on rustic Italian fare with a twist of urban Chicago sass.  Opened in the spring of 2013, Siena Tavern has been steadily growing a huge fan base with lighter plates like wood fired flatbread pizzas and home made gelato along side more elaborate entrees and house made pastas, making this place not only perfect for a fancy meal, but also more casual night out.  "They've got everything there for all different budgets," Brandy told Bailey, "So let's put my theory about price versus value to the test."

The inside of Siena Tavern was bright and inviting with its warm woods and gold tones, making the place feel luxurious, but comfortable.  The dining area was open and airy with plenty of space to move around.  At the east side of the restaurant was a gorgeous, sparkling bar area, while against the south wall a couple of chefs prepared fresh plates in full view of the diners, their backs to a beautiful wood fire oven.

Brandy and Bailey started right off with a couple of drinks.  Bailey opted for her usual Bloody Mary, which came nicely dressed with plenty of top quality meats, cheeses, and pickled veggies on a skewer.  Bailey thought the Bloody was just spicy enough without being too overwhelming and that it had a nice freshness to go along with a thinner consistency and some nice peppery bite.  "The Bloody Mary is a pretty crazy thing when you think about it," Bailey mused, "Take out the alcohol and it would practically be a health drink!"  Brandy went for one of the signature cocktails, labeled simply the No. 10 (all the signature cocktails at Siena Tavern had numbers instead of names), which was a bit of a play on an Old Fashioned with a touch of apricot.  Brandy liked that the drink was strong, but not too abrasive, and had a nice little bit of sweetness to it.

They decided to started off their meal with an intriguing dish labeled Egg in a Jar.  "I'm pretty used to what a brunch menu looks like at this point," Brandy said, "Benedict, pancakes, French Toast, burger, skillet, etc.  But this... I just have no frame of reference for this.  I simply must experience it."  What came to the table was a large glass mason jar on it's side, containing a host of fresh, beautiful looking components.  The server, with a sly smile on his face, placed a plate on the table and with the deft skill of a magician, slid the contents of the jar onto the plate in a breath taking arrangement.  There were roasted spears of asparagus, several chunks of tempura crab, two perfectly poached eggs, some arugula, a roasted lemon, and a side of hollandaise sauce in a silver gravy boat.  Indeed, the presentation was so beautiful and original that Brandy sat starring at it, stunned, until Bailey reached across the table and squeezed the roasted lemon over the lot.  "What?" she asked, spearing some crab with her fork, "I'm starving."  Everything was fresh and succulent with a great mix of textures from the crunchy crab to the velvety eggs, all complimented by the peppery greens and bright citrus of the hollandaise.

Next, they sampled the Biscuits and Gravy.  This was no average biscuits and gravy, but rather two perfect rounds of smoked brioche bread pudding slathered in a prosciutto and mushroom gravy with a little bit of truffle oil.  Once again, the plating of the dish simply dazzled Brandy.  "It's extremely hard to make biscuits and gravy look pretty," Brandy remarked, "But look at this thing!  It's a bloody masterpiece!"  The dense rounds of bread pudding had an almost cheesy flavor with a slight hint of aromatic sweetness, working surprisingly well with the savory gravy, which was loaded with chunks of tender, melt in your mouth pork sausage.

Next up was the Lobster Hash, a play on a Benedict with a bed of sauteed veggies and potatoes topped with two perfectly poached eggs, a rich truffle hollandaise and chunks of succulent lobster.  "This might be the most decedent Benedict I've ever seen," Brandy said in awe.  The lobster was heavenly; tender, light, and with a texture like butter, it simply had to touch the tongue before it started to disintegrate into a mouthful of buttery goodness.  The veggies in the hash had a great texture to them, and the potatoes perfumed the palate with a soft smokiness.  The truffle hollandaise was just as rich and indulgent as one might hope, proving to be the ultimate gilding on this beautiful little lily of a dish.

Lastly for dessert, Brandy and Bailey shared the Monkey Bread, which came doused in caramel sauce and topped with candied hazelnuts and a generous helping of whipped cream.  Upon the first bite, both ladies leaned back in their chairs as their chewing slowed, allowing them to savor the delicious bite of food for as long as possible.  The caramel flavor was present, but not obnoxiously sweet, and the hazelnuts provided a nice little crunch to go along with the chewy sticky bun like bread.  "This might be one of those rare cases," Brandy said after a moment, "Where I think the pure sight of this dish will speak for itself."

Brandy and Bailey could not have been more pleased with their brunch at Siena Tavern.  From the impeccable service to the warm and friendly atmosphere, this was a restaurant that understood not only the importance of the best ingredients, but how to present them in the most beautiful, unpretentious, and appetizing way possible.  "Are some of the prices a little higher than your average brunch?  Perhaps," Brandy said, "But in the case of something like a lobster hash with truffle hollandaise, you are certainly getting what you pay for.  No more, no less, and as long as the price matches the value of the dish, I don't mind a larger bill.  But I would venture to say that, all things considered, I'd happily pay almost anything to experience that meal again."  Bailey, who was struggling to shove the last bite of Monkey Bread into her mouth, simply nodded in agreement.

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

The Short and Sweet Review
Siena Tavern on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Tea Time with Brandy: Oatworks Smoothies

With all of the elaborate brunches Brandy indulges in from week to week, it's no wonder that every once in a while, she likes the convenience of a quick and easy breakfast on a weekday morning.  "I like a nice smoothie or something along those lines, but I don't have the patience to start juicing or using the vita-whatzit every single morning," she often complains, "I just want a big glass of something cold and fruity and I don't always want to have to go out and find a smoothie place."

Luckily, Brandy was recently introduced to a new bottled smoothie called Oatworks, so called because it not only contains 100% all natural juice, but also the equivalent of 2 bowls of oatmeal.  Oatworks bills itself as "a breakfast in a bottle," or in other words, a great way to enjoy the most important meal of the day anytime one desires. The beverage is made with fresh fruit along with the oats, which provide a great dose of beta glucan that works to make you feel fuller longer and provides natural energy through the vitamins and minerals inherent in it’s ingredients. It's also vegan friendly, dairy free, soy free, kosher, and sweetener free.

The smoothies come in three flavors: Strawberry Banana, Peach Mango, and Pomegranate Blueberry, all in handy portable bottles.  The drink itself is less smoothie and more nectar like in its texture, being more viscous than juice, but not thick and creamy like a traditional smoothie.  The oats have been so finely ground that they aren't noticeable in the texture or flavor, which Brandy appreciated.  "I had thought the drink might be a bit chunky, but instead its more like a a rich, indulgent juice with a smooth mouth feel.  How extraordinary!"  

Oatworks smoothies can be purchased directly from their website or via Amazon

The writers of this blog were sent samples of this product in exchange for an honest review

Friday, August 8, 2014

Grand Tour or It's a Small World After All

The Slow and Savory Review

As regular readers of this blog will know, Brandy is quite the well seasoned world traveler.  "I have lived for at least six months on every continent on this planet," she will proclaim, proudly, "And let me tell you, those six months in Antarctica weren't as cold as you might think."  In fact, Brandy isn't quite sure why she decided to settle in Chicago for the time being, but she's been here so long now that only her native land of England can claim to have held her longer."It just seemed like the right time to stop," she says when asked, "I suppose I just started to acquire too many...things, and those things just happen to be best kept in Chicago.  Not that I don't still have a touch of wanderlust, I just like having a place to come home to at the end of the day."

Recently, it came to Brandy's attention that Chef Roger Herring, formally of Socca, had opened a new restaurant in North Center called Grand Tour.  This establishment professed to serve dishes from all around the world, from South American to Europe to Asia.  As Socca was one of Brandy's favorite brunches of all time and with the concept behind this new place being right up her alley, Brandy simply could not wait to visit Grand Tour for herself.

The inside of Grand Tour was quite impressive, in both size and spacing.  A huge circular bar held the focus of the room, which was lined with high tables, booths, and ornate stools to accommodate any sort of desired seating.  At the back of the room was a small, well lit stage, where, presumably, live music could be performed for the room, but currently the large television screens that encircled the bar provided the visual entertainment while piped in classic rock played.  Other than that, the decor was unremarkable and pretty typical for a bar and grill.  "I'd love to see a little more indication of the theme," Brandy mused, looking around the room, "Not necessarily safari helmets and corny props like that, but maybe some subtle hints of world travel would have been nice."

The cheerful waitress happily explained all of the drink specials to Brandy, charming her by letting her know the red sangria wasn't at it's best that day.  "It's a little dry, if you ask me," she said, "But some people like a dryer sangria."  "I'm certainly not one of them," Brandy winked at her.  Brandy opted instead for one of the many interesting sounding cocktails on the front of the drink menu (though it took her several minutes to read the menu, as the one she'd been given was severally water spotted), ordering something called the Weathered Traveler made with white whiskey, blueberry lemoncello, lavendar, soda, and bitters.  The drink was strong without being abrasive, and had a nice refreshing effect.  The lavender did make it a little perfumey, but not unpleasantly so, and Brandy found it a rather nice drink to sip throughout her meal.

First she started off with the French Toast, which the menu marked as being Canadian inspired.  Brandy supposed the Canadian element was the maple syrup, and in that way, the theme seemed to be a bit tacked on, as the syrup was simply a drizzle on top of the plate.  The French toast itself was pretty standard, being cut into thin triangles and topped with slices of banana, strawberry, and pecans as well as dollops of whipped cream that looked suspiciously like they'd come from a can.  The overall taste wasn't bad at all, but Brandy couldn't help feeling a little disappointed.  "One of my favorite French toasts of all time was at Socca, Roger Herring's old haunt, and in comparison to that dish, this one is just not on the same level," Brandy whimpered, "And especially with an $11 price tag, I'd like to think I'm getting something a little more special than what a greasy spoon diner would give me for half as much."

Lastly Brandy ordered the Merica Burger, an homage to perhaps America's most well known fast food favorite.  The burger came topped with American cheese, lettuce, bacon beer jam, and "special sauce" (at this point, even non Americans like Brandy know that "special sauce" probably means Thousand Island dressing with relish) and was served with a side of fries.  The fries were yet another unremarkable part of the meal: under seasoned and probably cooked from frozen, but tasty enough for plate filler.  The burger was actually quite nice: the meat seemed to be a custom blend as the texture was fairly smooth and lean.  Brandy wished for a bit more of either the sauce or the bacon beer jam, as both seemed to fade into the background, though the burger itself provided a nice meaty flavor and the American cheese, as much as foodies like to make fun of it, did lend a nice silky feeling to each mouthful.

Though the service was warm and friendly, the space open and inviting, and the concept intriguing, in the end Brandy felt a bit let down by the food at Grand Tour.  "It's not that anything was bad," she tried to explain to herself as she left, "I was just hoping for a bit more oomph, as they say.  That meal was less a worldly tasting and more a standard American brunch dressed up to look exotic.  Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with an American brunch; it's what I've grown to love these past few years, after all.  But if that's what is on offer, don't try to trick people into thinking there's some grand design behind the menu that's not really there.  Or maybe I'm just still bitter about paying $11 for that damned French toast..."

The Short and Sweet Review

Grand Tour on Urbanspoon