Nothing gets us jazzed like a good discount coupon. We received one via snail-mail the other day for half off the food on the Starbucks Evenings menu. That was all the incentive we needed to visit a Calabasas store, one of two Southern California locations to feature the lineup of wine, beer, small plates, appetizers and sweets. (The other is in Rancho Santa Margarita in Orange County.)
Starbucks appears to be taking a low-key approach to promoting the new menu. The only advertising we've seen is the aforementioned coupon. In the store, the food case displayed several samples, but the menu was just posted on two small cards on the countertops. And there's nary a bottle of wine or beer in sight. In fact, if you didn't know about the Evenings menu upon entering, you could easily miss it.
Lucky for us, we did know, so we ordered a Riesling for $6 and an artichoke and goat cheese flatbread for $6.95. Our friend (and designated driver) requested a venti iced water and a truffle mac-and-cheese for $5.95. Unlike the usual routine, with this menu you don't have to stand around waiting for your order. Instead, the food and drinks were brought out to the patio. Except for the water, which was in a plastic cup, everything else was served in or on glass.
But back to the Evenings menu. We enjoyed the change of pace and the chance to catch our breath between work and hitting the grocery store. Contrary to some reports, the food is not frozen. It's made fresh and delivered daily, refrigerated, then heated in a convection oven. Considering that's the drill, the appetizers we had were pretty good, and the wine was pleasant.
Also on the menu are "bites" of warmed rosemary and brown sugar cashews for $3.45 and seasonal vegetables with smoky chipotle hummus for $4.95. Other selections include Parmesan-crusted chicken skewers and a chicken and roasted tomato flatbread. There are a couple of dessert choices, too. As for the drinks, there are 10 wines, available by the glass or bottle, and beer choices, which vary -- ask the barista about the current selection.
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In other Starbucks news, it's time to work on your French accent, so you can properly say croissant and fromage when ordering from the new lineup of baked goods from La Boulange bakery, founded by French baker Pascal Rigo in 1999.
Last year, Starbucks announced the acquisition of San Francisco-based Bay Bread LLC and its La Boulange brand. The savory and sweet pastries and breads are already in some Los Angeles shops and will be rolled out into other area stores during the next month. The new baked goods debuted in San Francisco in April, Seattle in May and will be available in Chicago and New York later this year.
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