Chef Time #5: Four Smoothie Bowl Recipes

Chef Time #5: Four Smoothie Bowl Recipes

In this Chef Time post, I tell you about four different smoothie bowl recipes I made. Recently, I’ve been inspired by all of the smoothie bowls I’ve been seeing online and in restaurants. I love how healthy they are (obviously depending on what you put in them) and how pretty they can look depending on what toppings you use.

None of these recipes have exact measurements- you get to decide how much you want to put in! The Dragon Fruit has a pretty strong flavor, so it will cover up any veggies you try to sneak in 🙂

Here are the four recipes I created:

Recipe #1

This is my favorite smoothie bowl recipe- I think it had the best base in terms of taste and consistency. For the base, I used: 1 Dragon Fruit pouch, some almond milk, 1 Avocado and some mixed frozen berries. You can’t taste the Avocado, but it makes the bowl nice a creamy. For the toppings, I used: a spoonful of almond butter, chia seeds, fresh strawberries and granola.

Recipe #2

In this smoothie bowl, I mixed: 1 Dragon Fruit pouch, some almond milk, 2 frozen bananas, some frozen raspberries and some frozen mango chunks. The base came out too soupy, so if you use almond milk or something similar, make sure to watch for this. The toppings I used were granola and chia seeds.

Recipe #3

In this smoothie bowl recipe, I used: 1 Dragon Fruit pouch, 1 frozen banana, some riced cauliflower from Trader Joe’s, some frozen raspberries, some frozen mango chunks, and some almond milk. I promise that you can’t taste the cauliflower; I put it in to provide some additional nutrients. For the toppings, I used chia seeds, granola and almond butter- I love how the almond butter accidentally came out looking like a flower!

Recipe #4

In this recipe, the bowl ingredients are: 1 Dragon Fruit pouch, 1 frozen banana, some frozen mango chunks, some frozen raspberries, and 3 strawberry yogurts. The toppings are chia seeds and granola (I like Udi’s granola!). I used yogurt to give the bowl a creamier texture, I don’t like it when the base gets too soupy.

I hope that these recipes inspire you to make smoothie bowls at home. If you do make them, tag me in the pictures on Instagram @thecrosscountrymillennial- I would love to see them! Also, a great spot to look for the dry goods (granola and chia seeds) used in these recipes is Thrive Market – I’m obsessed with the prices. If you use this link, you’ll get 25% off your first order (this post is not sponsored, I just love Thrive Market). Bon appetite!

Beginner’s Guide to Portland, OR

Beginner’s Guide to Portland, OR

After Austin, I figured that I had to go to the other U.S. city that had the motto of, “Keep _______ weird,” so I went up to Portland, OR with one of my best friends Before deciding to go to Portland, I had never really considered visiting the Pacific Northwest, and I really don’t know how or why I ignored this part of the country, but once I went to Portland, I instantly fell in love with it.

When I went to Portland for the first time in July 2016, I was still recovering from my stress fracture, so I wasn’t very mobile. Despite this setback, Portland is an easy city to get around without having to do too much walking. There is a train system, Lyft and Uber are there, and there are trolleys that can take you around different tourist areas within the city. We stayed at an Airbnb in Historic Kenton Area and it was a nice part of town. It was close to a MAX train stop and there was a little area that had a few shops and restaurants.

Day #1

To start off our first full day in Portland, we went to Cup and Saucer for breakfast and I got French Toast- it was perfection. My favorite way to start off the day is with a delicious breakfast that usually consists of comfort food, and French toast is that for me.

Once we finished, we took the train to Downtown Portland, and headed over to the meeting spot for the Pink Trolley. This trolley takes you all around the city and to a lot of the main tourist attractions, and it was an affordable way to see a lot of different parts of the city without walking. The two stops that we spent the most time in were the Rose Garden and the Arboretum. Both areas are beautiful and I loved being outdoors and just being able to explore a little- not being able to walk for three months really makes you appreciate the outdoors.

Once we finished with the trolley tour, we headed over to the Pearl District and went to Powell’s bookstore- this was heaven for me. I LOVEEE books, and I just loved being in a bookstore that was so historic and has such a variety of books in it.

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After a long day of exploring, we headed over to The Hairy Lobster for dinner. We started off with beers because you have to try local beers when traveling and the Parker House Rolls with lavender whipped honey butter. For dinner, I got the caramelized lamb served over potatoes and sweet potato mash, and it was delicious. However, for the price, I was a bit surprised at how small my meal was, but it was okay because we were heading over to Salt and Straw for dessert.

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We all know that I have an obsession with Salt and Straw in LA, so it’s no surprise that I had to go to one of the original locations in Portland. When we arrived at Salt and Straw the line wasn’t horrible- at least in comparison to the location I go to in LA, so we decided to wait. As we got closer and closer to the door, I got more and more excited. The décor in the shop was very different from LA, so I really enjoyed that. Since I knew that Portland has some different flavors than LA, I knew I had to try at least one of the local flavors. I got the Stumptown and Burnside Bourbon and Cinnamon Snickerdoodle in a waffle cone- this was a splurge because I usually just get a cup!

Day #2

The next day for breakfast we wanted to try a local donut place, but since I had already been to Voodo Donuts we decided to go to Blue Star.  We got four donuts including: real maple bacon, The O.G., chocolate almond ganache, and a blueberry bourbon basil. All the donuts were DELICIOUS! I LOVED the donuts! I think it was the fact that they weren’t greasy and the flavors were unique that helped a lot. To go with the donuts, I got a carton of Stumptown coffee with milk – best breakfast combination ever!

After breakfast, we walked over to a cute Saturday market near the water. There were a lot of unique and eclectic sellers, which made it easier to find some cool gifts for people! We spent a few hours meandering around the market and then decided it was time for lunch.

We went to Deschutes Brewery for lunch, and I really enjoyed it. My friend and I split a sampler of the different Deschutes, and I really enjoyed most of the different beers. To eat I got the chicken wings, and I thought that they were perfect. It was definitely more of a unique type of chicken wings, but I enjoyed them.

After lunch, we were signed up for a brewcycle tour of Portland. The tour we picked was the Old Town tour and we went to PINTs Brewing, Old Town Brewing, and Fat Head’s Brewing. I thought it was fun way to see the city and we got to explore different parts that we hadn’t visited thus far. I really enjoyed trying new beers and touring the city, so I highly recommend this as a way to explore any city!

After the tour we headed to dinner, and we decided on sushi! We went to a sushi restaurant in the Pearl District right near The Hairy Lobster called Yama Sushi and Sake Bar. I ordered the love joy roll and my friend got a cucumber roll and the sunrise roll. We both thought the food was really good and there wasn’t a super long line for anything which is always a perk. Once we finished dinner we went back to the Airbnb, so we could both pack up because we were leaving the next day.

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Day #3

For my final meal in Portland, the next day, I went back to Cup and Saucer and I got a chai latte and a quiche. Everything was delicious and I need to go back sometime!

 

I loved Portland so much, that I ended up coming back a few months later! That blog post will be up soon 🙂

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Beginner’s Guide to Austin, TX and Oklahoma City, OK

Beginner’s Guide to Austin, TX and Oklahoma City, OK

When I started looking at all of the places I have left to travel to I realized that I haven’t been to the Southern States, and I decided to ease myself into venturing to this new area of the country by visiting one of my best friends in Oklahoma City (OKC). I had already been to OKC before, but that was two years ago, and a lot can change in two years. We figured out that neither of us had been to Austin, TX (ATX), so we decided that I would fly to OKC and then we would road trip down to ATX. I’ve always liked road trips, and then it allows you to hang out with a friend and see new parts of the country.

Day 1
When we first arrived in Austin, we checked into our Airbnb- I think that Airbnb’s are a great way to see a city and interact with local residents. After we settled in we headed over to Uchi, for a delicious sushi dinner. We started off the meal with drinks and for our main course we decided to get the signature tasting option- it is five courses which is a good amount split between two people. This allowed us to try a lot of different things. To start off we tried was the Hirame Usuzukuri, which is flounder with candied quinoa, and olive oil. The second course was the Machi Cure, which is smoked yellowtail, yucca crisp, marcona almond, and Asian pear. For the next course, we had the Maguro & Goat Cheese, which is one of the most unique sushi dishes that I have ever had. Then we had the Hamachi Nabe, which is yellowtail, koshihikari rice, soy broth, and an egg yolk. To conclude our dining experience, we had the Walu Walu which is oak-grilled escolar, yuzupon, candied citrus, and myoga. The food was delicious, well prepared, and truly unique. I think that Uchi has some of the best sushi I have ever had, and the unique dishes makes it worth the price.

After dinner, we went back to our Airbnb to relax and plan for the next day.

Day 2
To start off the day we had a relaxing morning and a quick breakfast and then headed downtown to the Austin Visitors Center. We walked around the center and got to learn more about the city, and then we boarded a bus for the Austin in 90 minutes tour. Some things that you see on the guided bus tour are the 360 Scenic Overlook, Graffiti Park at Castle Hills, Bullock Texas State History Museum, and UT- Austin.

Later on, in the day we had an early dinner and did a Bat Cruise. Fun Fact: The Congress Avenue Bridge is home to the largest urban bat colony in the world. During the Bat cruise you get to experience all of the bats leaving the bridge to go find dinner as the sun sets. It is possibly one of the coolest thing you’ll experience in Austin and I would never have guessed that so many bats could fit under the bridge!

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After the cruise we headed to the “Dirty Sixth” or 6th street to go listen to some live music and enjoy a drink. Eventually we wanted a snack so we decided to head to Voodoo Doughnut Austin, and I got a Maple Bacon donut. It was tasty, and I was excited to try Voodoo because it is originally from Portland, OR and I was going there in a few weeks, so it was like a mini preview of Portland.

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Day 3
After our long day 2, we decided to sleep in a little and then grab breakfast at Whole Foods. Now I know that sounds funny, but considering that Whole Foods was founded in Austin and the original location has a lot of eateries, so we figured it was a good way to see the store and grab breakfast. I went to Taco Alley and got a breakfast burrito and it was divine.

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The next activity for the day was to go on the Deep Eddy Distillery tour. We got the tickets that have the shuttle to and from, so we avoided drinking and driving. The ticket is $25, and it included the round-trip shuttle ride, the tour, a cocktail and 20% off all merchandise. I really enjoyed learning about how they make their vodka and eating and drinking after the tour. They have some food trucks there, so you can get snacks while drinking and I obviously had to get BBQ. It is definitely a fun place to go, and it would be a great place to spend an afternoon with friends.

Once we got back to downtown Austin, we headed to the Roaring Fork for dinner. I got the Cedar Planked Salmon- its oven roasted with Teriyaki BBQ sauce and a Chilled Green Bean Salad. It was the perfect meal after spending a lot of time outside in the heat.

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After dinner we headed back to the Airbnb to hang out and go to bed early. Since we were heading back to OKC early in the morning to beat traffic.

Day 4
After a 4-hour drive, we arrived back in OKC and it felt great to get out of the car. We relaxed, ate dinner, and then we went to the OKCLA game (OKCLA is the minor league team for the Los Angeles Dodgers). I love baseball, so it was fun to get to see a good minor league team play.

Day 5
After a good night’s sleep, we woke up and went to breakfast at The Red Cup. I got a Peanut Butter and Banana sandwich and a Chai tea to drink. It was the perfect breakfast for a hot day. I really enjoyed the atmosphere of the restaurant and all of the art.

After breakfast we took a water taxi ride around downtown and we got to see some murals and sculptures.

For lunch we went to Big Truck Tacos, and it was amazing! I got the Okie-Wahoo and Rita’s Chicken Tacos. It’s an affordable and delicious place- highly recommend if you’re ever in OKC!

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Once we were done eating, then it was time for me to head to the airport and go back to LA. It was a great trip to Austin and OKC, and I definitely want to return to both cities.

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Ktown Hidden Gems #4: Holy Roly Ice Cream

Ktown Hidden Gems #4: Holy Roly Ice Cream

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In this edition of Ktown Hidden Gems, I talk about my experience at Holy Roly Ice Cream. One of my friends, her husband, and I like to get dessert and explore Ktown; we’ve explored a few new dessert places, and so far they’ve all been great! Keep on Reading!

What Happens When Age is Thrown Out the Window?

What Happens When Age is Thrown Out the Window?

I’ve always had two philosophies in life 1) age is just a number and 2) you can learn something from everyone you meet. I chose to participate in the Bridging the Gap campaign with this mentality, but I was hesitant that I wouldn’t be able to relate to my partner. What would I truly have in common with someone double my age, and who’s lived in countries I’ve never been to? However, once I started talking with Renata, founder of Fashionably Fab Fashion Tips, I realized that we had so much more in common than I initially imagined.

Renata was born and raised in Australia, but she followed her dreams and at age 50 she moved to France. She has a son, and she is getting married to an Italian man in November. Now, age 52, she has traveled to over 40 cities in Europe – something I aspire to do some day. Some of her favorite places are: Antwerp, Paris, the countryside in England, Austria, and Switzerland.

Renata started her blog because she thinks “it’s important to just see people for who and what they are regardless of age, height or shape. People have a hard time nowadays to see people without labels or status.” You feel this intention when reading her blog; the wisdom woven into posts from her personal life and fashion communicates everything at a humanistic level and it feels refreshing. Everything she writes is authentic, and it’s noticeable. This tone makes sense because Renata is an artist with words – she’s written a book (again another life goal of mine).

I learned from our conversations that we both share passions for traveling, food, helping others and the relationships we have with family and friends. Renata is an expert in European cities; she can tell you where to eat, sites to see and the value of traveling to each country. I think she would write an awesome travel book about European cities. I hope to have this much knowledge about places within the United States. Renata and I both believe that traveling is awesome and that it forces you to truly live life. She says it best, “experience is life,” and I completely agree. Paired with traveling, is her passion for good food. Whether it’s a home cooked meal by her future spouse or dishes she’s discovered while traveling around Europe – she loves it all.

After talking with Renata, I realized that our values, passions and desires are the same; no matter your age. Two lessons I took away from our conversations are that you need to live in the now and make sure to become your best friend. I also hope that one day I have the wisdom and willingness to live my dreams despite my fears. Remember that beauty is ageless, and age is just a number. Renata and I bridged the gap, and I hope that we can meet in person – maybe I’ll travel to Europe!

To check out the other posts, click here!

Chef Time #4: How to Make an Egg Sandwich

Chef Time #4: How to Make an Egg Sandwich

As I mentioned in my post about my experience at Egg Slut, I am on a mission to figure out how to make the best egg sandwich at home. After I went to Egg Slut, I figured out the missing ingredient- avocado!

Cook and Prep time: 10 minutes

What You’ll Need:

1 or 2 eggs

1 Tbsp. of garlic olive oil (I use the Trader Joe’s version)

1 or ½ an avocado

2 slices of Gouda cheese

1 English muffin or roll (I like the Euro Classic Hamburger rolls)

Single Egg Pan

I like to start by prepping the bread, so that way once the egg is cooked I can just put it on the sandwich and it’s ready to eat. Here are the steps:

  • Lay out both halves of the bread
  • Slice up the avocado and put it on both sides of the bread, so the sandwich is balanced.

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  • Put the two slices of Gouda on top of the avocado- this way they melt once you put the freshly cooked egg between them!

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Now that the rest of the sandwich is ready, then I start with the tasks related to cooking the egg(s). Here’s what I do:

  • Put a little bit (about 1 Tbsp.) of the garlic olive oil in the single egg pan- I like to put enough that I know the egg won’t stick to the pan, but not too much where it will spit back out at me while hot.

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  • Crack the egg into the pan- I like to cook it sunny side up

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  • Once the egg whites look cooked, then I like to flip it

When you think, the egg is done, take it off the stove and quickly get it onto the prepared sandwich. Once you put both halves together, it will melt the cheese.

I hope that you enjoy my super easy and healthy egg sandwich recipe! Comment below with any recipes that you’ve created and feel like sharing 🙂

 

 

An Eggsellent Meal at Eggslut

An Eggsellent Meal at Eggslut

One of my favorite things to do is explore parts of Los Angeles with my friends, and of course, try new restaurants. I think that one of the most underrated places to eat in Los Angeles, is Grand Central Market; however, within Grand Central Market there are a lot of amazing and diverse eateries. I love the produce shops, coffee shops, bread stores, and all the eateries and stores in this iconic location; one of my favorites is Eggslut.

I’m currently trying to make the best egg sandwich when I cook at home, so I’m trying different egg sandwiches around Los Angeles for inspiration. The menu is fairly limited to just egg sandwiches, but they do have an option that’s gluten free and comes with a salad. A friend and I both got the Bacon, Egg, and Cheese sandwich (mine with avocado, because it was national avocado day) and my other friend got a Slut with a side salad. They honestly know how to make the best egg sandwich at Eggslut and I need to know how they do it! I loved the crunchiness of the bacon, and how the cheese melted on the egg. The avocado topped off the sandwich.

One downside of Eggslut is that it is a small restaurant, so there usually is a crazy long line. However, this gives you the opportunity to take turns waiting in line with your friends while letting one explore Grand Central Market. It also allows you to socialize before ordering, so that way you can enjoy your amazing sandwich.  🙂

Eggslut is a great breakfast option, and being in Grand Central Market makes it even more enjoyable. Look out for a future post about my adventures trying to make the best egg sandwich at home. Happy Eating!

Food Guide: Portland, ME

Food Guide: Portland, ME

One of my favorite things to do is visit my friends in the cities they now reside in. My very best friend, 207 Foodie, resides in Portland, ME and I thought that the winter time was the perfect time to escape Los Angeles. To start off my trip, she had an ugly sweater party, so obviously, I had to scour Amazon for the perfect ugly sweater.

Day Two

The next day, we decided to walk to brunch in downtown Portland. We went to brunch at Sur Lie, and it was delicious. We had mimosas, the Golden Potato Hash Brown, Croquettes, the Fat Boy Breakfast, and Apple Cider Donuts- all were heavenly. The next time I’m in Portland, I must eat at Sur Lie again*.

One of my bucket list Portland destinations was L.L. Bean. I mean as someone that loves outdoor gear, L.L. Bean is like heaven. While at L.L. Bean you must take an obligatory picture with the boot outside the store- if you didn’t’ take a picture, did you really go?

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Another bucket list item was getting an authentic lobster roll. I know that winter isn’t the best season for lobster, but the lobster roll I had at Linda Beans was still delicious. I decided to get a cold lobster roll because I’ve only ever had a hot lobster roll; so, in Portland, I decided to try something new!

After spending the day at L.L. Bean and eating lobster rolls, we went on to have a quintessential New England evening at an outdoor ice skating rink, called The Rink at Thompson’s Point. It was a nice rink with a bar inside. They also had a food truck called PB&ME, that served fried cookies, so I got the fried chocolate chip cookies. They were the perfect addition to outdoor ice skating, beer, and good friends.

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Day Three

The next day we wandered down to the Old Port downtown to try an amazing sushi restaurant called Miyake. I got the pork belly, chef’s pick bento box, and chocolate cake with miso caramel sauce and it was great. Some of the items in the bento box I definitely wouldn’t have ordered on my own, but that’s the joy of the chef picking your menu- you get to try new things. The food was super fresh, and I loved the sushi. My friend and I also split the chocolate cake, and it was heavenly. After this delectable lunch, we walked to a different part of the city and went to Shipyard Brewing Co. We learned about the different beers and got to try a few. To finish a great day, we ended up at happy hour at Bar of Chocolate, and we got the Chocolate Martini and Hot Chocolate.

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Day Four

One of the things I hoped would happen while I was in Portland was that it would snow, and I got exactly that. There was enough snow that I was nervous that I might not be able to leave the next day, but luckily it stopped. Once it stopped snowing, we went to lunch at Pai Men Miyake, which is owned by the same people who own Miyake.  We split the pork buns and tuna and salmon rolls, and I got the Ramen as my main course. To finish off the day, we went to trivia at a local restaurant, and I got Beer BBQ wings.

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Day Five

To round off the trip, we went to lunch at a great place called Little Tap House, and I got the Beer for Breakfast Sandwich; the sandwich is comprised of two fried eggs, bacon, beer cheese fondue, grilled bun, and house chips. Then I was on my way back to Chicago. One thing that I’ve learned since graduating college is that visiting your friends is one of the best ways to relax and just allow yourself to be carefree. Being Bicoastal Besties can be hard, but trips together make it seem like time has never passed. Also, I definitely want to visit Portland during the Fall or Summer, so I can try different foods in the correct season!

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Comment below with your favorite trip you’ve taken with friends!

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*Unfortunately, they no longer do brunch 🙁

Ktown Hidden Gems #3: Bia Coffee

Ktown Hidden Gems #3: Bia Coffee

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My newest edition of Koreatown (Ktown) Hidden Gems is Bia Coffee. Bia in Korean means flower, so the name of the shop translates to Flower Coffee. This is one of the coolest coffee shops I’ve ever been to. On the outside, it just looks very simple and maybe like any other coffee shop, but once you enter you are in a comfortable and friendly shop that mixes coffee and the art of flowers. I love the simple décor in Bia Coffee- the succulents around the shop give it a pop of color in addition to the flowers.

What I love about drinking coffee is the strong coffee flavor, and the instant feeling you get when the rich flavor hits your tongue when I take that first sip. However, at Bia Coffee the coffee flavor feels airier and calming because of the flowers that they put in the coffee. I’ve tried both the Lavender and Rose lattes, and I could taste the hint of Rose or Lavender mixed into the coffee; I love both lattes. The flowers make the coffee feel lighter while you drink it, because Rose and Lavender are light scents and have calming effects. While I do love the strong flavor of coffee, I also appreciate this lighter version of coffee. I like the lavender or rose hint when I take that initial sip- I feel calmer compared to drinking regular coffee. The food at Bia Coffee also looks amazing, and they use natural ingredients that uses flower flavors and which pair nicely with the coffees.

One tip about a Bia Coffee is you should go early, so they have all the ingredients or pastries that you want. Also, parking can be tricky, so make sure to research places to park. If you’re ever on 6th street between Oxford and Western, then you must stop by Bia Coffee!

Los Angeles Brunch Time: The Church Key

Los Angeles Brunch Time: The Church Key

Recently for a friend’s birthday brunch, I ended up in West Hollywood at The Church Key; this restaurant is a bit outside of my normal geographical stomping ground. I had never heard of the Church Key before, and I was excited to try a new restaurant for brunch; it’s always good to a have a few different restaurants in your arsenal to pick from. To start off, we got the Brioche Donuts. They have a Brown Butter Glaze with a dribbling of Cinnamon Caramel. They were amazing, and something I definitely will get again. Then on the more savory side, we got the Toad in the Hole “Croque Madame.” It comes with two eggs, gruyere fondue, and smoked bacon. It honestly hit the spot to balance out the sweetness from the donuts.

For my entrée, I got the “Another” Avocado Toast. It comes on sourdough with house citrus cured salmon, fennel, oranges, and chives. I added the fried egg added to the dish for extra protein. I loved how all of the different flavors mixed together to make this avocado toast 100% not another basic avocado toast. The combination of flavors in this entrée make it more for someone who’s willing to be adventurous in their food choices, because not everyone loves fennel, but it was truly delicious and worth trying. For the amount of food, you get, I would say that $15 for this delectable entrée is perfectly fine.

 

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Another perk of going to the Church Key, is that they have a great mimosa deal and are very attentive. You get unlimited mimosas for $15.95 vs. $10 for one mimosa- definitely a deal.  They make sure that you always have a full mimosa and if they run out, then they give you other options. For drink service, they have some of the best service I’ve ever experienced. I highly recommend the food and drinks at The Church Key. Bon Appetit!