Small Plates and Booze at Starbucks? The Chain Expands Evening Offerings — Get All the Details

08/17/2015 at 06:00 AM ET

Starbucks
Courtesy Starbucks

Early Monday morning, Starbucks announced the expansion of their Evenings menu, which offers nighttime-oriented items like wine, craft beer and savory small plates.

That’s right: It’s officially no longer depressing to eat dinner — or get tipsy — at Starbucks.

Before Starbucks’ official announcement, we sampled the new menu at the chain’s trendy Williamsburg location in Brooklyn, which begins offering the Evenings fare on Wednesday after 4 p.m.

Our verdict in a sentence? We might get back on OK Cupid just to orchestrate a million first dates here, because the wine and beer selection, as well as the decadent, weirdly low-calorie small plates, are on point — and the vibe is perfectly casual.

Starbucks
Courtesy Starbucks

Let’s start with the food. The success of Starbucks’ new small plates menu lies in its simplicity. Starbucks isn’t trying to be the next best tapas innovator; they’re simply making all the straightforward (and satisfying) foods you’d want to pick at while sipping a glass of wine or a pint of beer — dishes like truffle mac ‘n’ cheese, spinach artichoke dip with pita chips, bacon-wrapped dates, artichoke & goat cheese flatbread — and they’re executing them exceptionally well.

With plates ranging from $4.95 (truffle popcorn) to $6.95 (chicken sausage & mushroom flatbread), the price points are reasonable, too, and all the dishes are under 500 calories (quite joyous news to hear after devouring a whole pot of the oozy mac). The sweet and crispy bacon-wrapped dates — which also happen to be stuffed with spicy chorizo sausage and drizzled with balsamic glaze — were standouts, as was the decadent artichoke & goat cheese flatbread, which disappeared almost instantly.

The beer and wine offerings were equally accessible, though slightly pricey for such a casual environment, with glasses of reds and whites ranging from $8 to $15. But the selection here is carefully and intelligently curated. The bubbly and bright Mionetto prosecco, for example, makes the perfect post-work glass of wine, made even more perfect by the little bowl of seasoned pepitas (sunflower seeds) perched in a mini-bowl on top of the glass. That’s right: Every glass of wine and beer is served with a little bowl of pepitas on top. And nothing in this world gets us more excited than free snacks.

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We can see ourselves coming here with friends or (as mentioned) dates, but the best part is we can see ourselves coming here alone, accompanied by a book or a magazine, and sipping a glass of prosecco, nibbling on pepitas and popping bacon-wrapped dates back like shots at a bachelorette party. The environment, while more spacious and artsy than your average Starbucks, is casual enough that solo dining — even in yoga pants — is completely acceptable.

Starbucks
Courtesy Starbucks

The Evenings menu, is already offered in 75 locations in Seattle, Portland, California, Chicago and Atlanta.

—Maria Yagoda, @mariayagoda

FILED UNDER: Beer , Coffee , Food , Food News , Starbucks , Wine

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The Latest Craze in Disco Styles Is See-Through Jeans—but Beware of Foggy Bottoms

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The Latest Craze in Disco Styles Is See-Through Jeans—but Beware of Foggy Bottoms

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On a clear day, you can see forever—or at least that’s the wicked thought behind L.A. designer Agi Berliner’s transparent idea: see-through jeans. Exhibitionists notwithstanding, most folks wear them over bathing suits or as attention-getting evening wear with halters, garter belts and body stockings. Created for the disco crowd, the $34 jeans are selling like, well, hot pants. In just six weeks, 25,000 pairs have already been sold in such major department store chains as Macy’s, Bonwit’s and Saks.

“What’s limiting American designers is that we’re afraid to do something different,” says Berliner, 32, a Hungarian émigré who fled with her family to the U.S. in 1956. Agi thought up the gimmick in London while marveling at the way plastics were being employed by designers of punk fashion. In her L.A. office, where she designs for La Parisienne junior sportswear, Agi spent five days on the phone and six weeks testing to come up with the right plastic.

Agi herself tried out the French-cut jeans with the zipper in front, and quickly found several problems: Some plastics tore away from stitching, others wouldn’t bend and all fogged with perspiration. The ideal material proved to be a vinyl supplied by a bookbinder. The steam was eliminated with a series of vents behind the knees and in the crotch. “They’re no hotter than polyester pants,” claims Agi, “and if you wear them with tights, they won’t stick to your legs.”

Whatever the discomfort and despite the problem of Saturday night feverishness, discomaniacs report one major advantage of the plastic pants: no laundry bills. To keep Berliner’s see-through jeans clear, all the wearer needs is a little Windex.

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ALC on

Ummm, pep it’s are pumpkin seeds, not sunflower seeds.

ALC on

Duh, auto correct…pepitas are pumpkin seeds, not sunflower seeds.

kitteneyez on

i hate starbucks gross

PCC on

Starbucks is where you go when you don’t want to deal with other tipsy adults. It’s not like there aren’t 500 hipster bars where you can get craft beer and wine in Williamsburg.

Anonymous on

i’m so excited about this! I can’t wait for one of these locations to come to Tampa! I’ll be there!