Friday, February 17, 2017

Postcards from Bunny: Mr. Brown's Lounge Brunch Preview

Bunny has spent the first part of 2017 literally half way across the world in Australia. The odd joy of lazing on a beach in early February has been quite a treat for her and she was reluctant to give up the warmth and sun. "I do miss Chicago... to a certain extent," she commented while sipping on a fruity cocktail, "But it's hard to convince one's self to go back to freezing temperatures and cloudy skies when one has grown used to the southern hemisphere." Never the less, Bunny knew it was time to head back to the Windy City, if only briefly, as her pale Anglican skin was nearing its maximum amount of pigmentation.

But once Bunny returned to her home away from home, she was awestruck to find that the usually slushy streets hadn't seen a flake of snow in over 60 days and that the temperatures were nearing record highs. "Why didn't you tell me Chicago was in the middle of a heatwave?" Bunny angrily texted Brandy. "I don't control the weather, dear," Brandy replied, "Not since that incident at NASA in the 60's. How was I supposed to know that was the button that released the weather balloons?" With the discovery that Chicago was feeling positively tropical in the middle of what should have been the harshest time of year, Bunny suddenly found herself craving the cuisine of warmer climates. Luckily, Mr. Brown's Lounge inside the Hard Rock Hotel was having a preview of their brand new Jamaican inspired brunch. "If the entire city of Chicago has decided to take a vacation from the late winter weather, then who am I to resist it?" she reasoned with herself.

Upon entering the sunny ground level restaurant, Bunny was immediately handed a Passion Fruit Belini, which was as bright and refreshing as it was colorful. There was also a Sorrel Rum Punch being served, which had a gorgeous red color as well as a fruity and slightly herbacious flavor. Bunny actually quite enjoyed the punch, finding it to be one of those dangerous types of drinks that was so drinkable that one hardly noticed just how many of them were being consumed over the course of the meal.

Next came some little bites of signature menu items. The Island Style Mac and Cheese was a thick and creamy concoction that didn't stray too far from the American classic, except that it had a bit of a red pepper kick. The Plantain Porridge was a bit more of a pleasant surprise with it's subtly sweet flavor, though it was closer to a smoothie texture than what Bunny was used to seeing in a porridge. Then there was a little taste of the Ackee and Saltfish which, as Bunny was told, was the national dish of Jamaica, consisting of the custard-like tropical fruit combined with buttery salted fish, sauted red and green peppers, onions, and a traditional Jamaica mixed of leafy greens called Calaloo. This was truly a new experience for Bunny, who was surprised to find that the ackee bared a striking resemblance (both physically and in flavor) to scrambled eggs!

Moving on to some more full sized samples, Bunny tried some of the Steak Hash, which came served with a fried egg, crisped potatoes, more peppers and onions, chimichurri, cheese sauce, and a touch of Mr. Brown's signature jerk sauce. This may have been Bunny's favorite dish of the morning, as the tender steak had the perfect amount of kick to it from the jerk sauce, but the creamy cheese and the assertive chimichurri made for excellent compliments. In turn, the Jerk Omelet also combined a recognizable American breakfast staple with just enough Jamaican flavor to make it really unique, as did the Jerk Chicken and Waffles. Finally ending on something sweet, Bunny sampled the Coconut Pancakes, which were simple enough, but when combined with a bite of perfectly caramelized plantains, they became a Caribbean delight!

Having indulged herself as thoroughly as possible on such a unique menu, Bunny waddled out of Mr. Brown's with a smile on her face and a Peter Tosh song in her head. "Now let's see... is 60 degrees appropriate beach weather?" she wondered to herself. "Well, I suppose it is for Chicago! Those polar plunge fellows are certainly going to have an easy time of things this year!"

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

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