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Comment Archives: Locations: Restaurants: Contemporary

Re: “1808 Grille

I visited 1808 when an old friend visited from New York. I wanted to find a place that would showcase Nashville and 1808 didn't disappoint.

Located in the Hutton Hotel, the decor is tasteful and modern and tables are arranged for both openess and privacy.

We chose the $18.08 Special, which was a grilled fish that evening. Flavors were subtle and delicious in the entree and all of the sides. My young daughter had a surprisingly affordable children's entree. We opted for dessert, aso top notch.

Service was attentive without being intrusive and the friendly waiter didn't talk down to us. This restaurant offers great value for the quality of food and service. Highly recommended.

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Moderato on 03/27/2011 at 2:45 PM

Re: “Urban Flats [Closed]

I don't feel it's really fair to give a restaurant only 1 star based on your dislike of the parking situation.

Here's a REAL review of the actual restaurant.

Pleasant interior, much sleeker and more upscale than you'd expect based on the menu. Food is fresh and freshly prepared. Decent wine selection. Nothing knocked my socks off, but I've never been disappointed with what I ordered. A lot will depend on whether you like the concept and flavor combinations (I do). A perfectly decent casual chain concept that feels more sophisticated than a casual chain concept, and a good choice for lunch or an inexpensive dinner choice before heading out to downtown events.

Posted by FG on 03/21/2011 at 3:46 PM

Re: “Urban Flats [Closed]

Over priced. I also asked if they validated parking in the garage, was told they did, but then really they didn't validate. I hate having to pay for parking at an establishment I'm already giving money to. Valet was not there that day either.

Posted by transplant on 03/05/2011 at 9:52 PM

Re: “Darfons

The price is way to high for quality of their food selection. Which isn't that great anyway!

Posted by Billy & Anna on 02/20/2011 at 9:54 PM

Re: “Germantown Café East [Closed]

Absolutely wonderful. Went during restaurant week and was able to enjoy several items including the the cocoa chili grouper, glazed duck, corn chowder, escargot, and blueberry tart. Every bite was superb. The service was excellent as well. I will definitely be returning, hopefully to sample the scallops.

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by spearsla on 01/22/2011 at 9:11 PM

Re: “Rumba Rum Bar and Satay Grill [Closed]

Ate there for the first time Sunday night. Outstanding food in a very cool environment. The ethnic variety could not be beat, and the flavors just exploded in your mouth. Not your typical TN restaurant, but being a CA expat, we felt right at home. You can do well just getting a mix of small plates and appetizers. Service was great. Our waiter was more knowledgeable than most, about both food and beverage, and was very attentive. Would recommend this place to any adventurous eater in a heartbeat.

Posted by Stormin' on 01/18/2011 at 10:35 AM

Re: “Merchants

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0 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by lizy_khalifa on 12/27/2010 at 10:32 PM

Re: “Eastland Café

November 19,2010

My friends and I just left the Eastland Cafe and had the most embarrassing experience ever. First of all the hostess snarled at us for showing up without having a reservation. I have not noticed any indication that this was a reservation only restaurant. Even if it was a reservation only restaurant, she should have pointed that out to us. We were seated and RUSHED through our meal. At which point the hostess came over and told us that we had 5 minutes to vacate the table for the next customers!

Posted by shellie on 11/19/2010 at 8:19 PM

Re: “Sambuca

I've dined at Sambuca many a night and have never had anything less than a great experience. The service is always exceptional, the food is better than phenomenal, and there's something fun happening onstage nightly. Mike Reynolds is one of Nashville's best bartenders and Chefs James Reesor and Mitchell Spivey are a great culinary duo. I'm always impressed and love to introduce friends to the Sambuca Scene. It's been one of the best things to hit the Gulch!

Posted by Hlawicki on 10/01/2010 at 3:48 PM

Re: “Park Cafe

I had driven to where a short lineup of restaurants reside in a ‘residential-feeling’ neighborhood of Sylvan Park. Located in an area where it is common to park on someone’s lawn on a busy night. I ended up wedging my car between a few barrels of fryer oil and a medium-sized dumpster behind the restaurant.

Amidst an upstanding taco joint, a homely Italian restaurant, and your average bread and cheese pub, was Park Cafe. Park Cafe was open Monday, and respectably slow. Eagerly, their staff welcomed me into their home-converted restaurant. Put in the most exaggerative way, the interior felt like the backstage of a strange theater set; a maze of rooms and hallways, each with a quirk of their own. I was seated in a reduced-capacity renovation, of what looked to be the original dining room; now, an inoperable water fountain adorned with plastic plants centered itself in the space. This hub led to several other dimensions of reality; a dark, empty room flaunting bold artwork was to my south. I felt the twisted romance of dining alone.

Park’s semi-cohesive menu has reasonable pricing. Main course dishes are in a modernized French style and appetizers tend toward Italian. An underlying southern flare peaks through in many dishes including the shrimp ratatouille and roasted chicken with crispy okra and cornbread croutons. The menu features entrees composed of the usual suspects; crustaceans, red meat, fowl, fish, and vegetables all done in a bold preparation. Chef does not skimp on the flavor, but maintains definition among the components in the dish. Bold sauces like Béarnaise, aioli, fruit reductions, cheeses, creamy risotto, and even an Asian-inspired plum sauce accompany main course dishes. The menu is definitely playful and mostly cohesive, but I deduct one point for their inclusion of an Asian-inspired salmon dish (Menu cohesion -1). This just doesn’t play well with the others, and it’s all too common to dress salmon up this way (Flavor pairing originality -1). I skip right to dessert.

'Lemon Icebox Cake' carmel & lemon creme topped with meringue, graham cracker crust, blueberry compote, carmel sauce $7
The description seemed a bit ambiguous, almost misleading; was the graham cracker crust to be on top? I received my icebox cake; a chilled tower of custardy lemon, creamy creaminess, rich caramel, and graham cracker crust... on the bottom. On top, sat what I thought was whipped cream, not a meringue, but I may be wrong... corrections? On top of THAT was the blueberry compote, and unfortunately perched here, was my only qualm. The compote was made from frozen blueberries, which had a terribly flat, chewy texture, and lacked their inherent ‘blue’ flavor (Texture profile -1, Flavor pairing fundamentals -1). The rest of the cake had luscious layers of creamy lemon and caramel. The graham cracker was a crusty vessel for all that sweet fattiness. What else is there to say? it was decadent, sweet, fatty, and mostly executed with precision.

REVAMPED. 'Lemon Icebox Cake' graham cracker crust topped with lemon and caramel cream, meringue, blueberry compote, and caramel sauce $7
My only suggestions would have been to reword the menu description and improve the texture and flavor of the blueberry compote by using fresh berries.

Overall I really liked Park Cafe. Their staff was marvelous, the food was big and bold, the atmosphere was bizarrely romantic, and prices were reasonable. But in the food category, this review only touched upon dessert, so they inevitably scored high. Another one and a half dinners, and this study will be concluded.

------------------------
1. Menu cohesion -1
2. Pricing 0
3. Beverage pairings 0
4. Atmosphere for romance 0
5. Cleanliness 0
6. Waitstaff competence 0
7. Waitstaff enthusiasm 0
8. Overall management 0
9. Flavor pairing fundamentals -1
10. Flavor pairing originality -1
11. Texture Profile -1
12. Use of "easy-pleasers" 0
13. Use of salt 0
14. Doneness precision 0
15. Dish sin factor 0
16. Dish sex factor 0
17. Presentation 0
18. Dish practicality 0
19. Healthful dish execution 0
20. Kitchen speed 0

1st visit (100-4 = 96)
-------------------------

Posted by DanielBF on 09/20/2010 at 4:19 PM

Re: “Park Cafe

On a Friday, the neighborhood around Park Cafe was respectively parked-up, but again, I procured my favorite parking spot between the dumpster and a barrel of fryer oil. I was greeted by their kind manager/sommelier, who situated me at a two seater in what may have been a small study or library. I realized that I had no romantic affinity towards this room; there were other realms of Park Cafe that were better suited for love (Atmosphere for romance -1). I will say it again, the staff at Park are a great group, they are polite, laid back, engaging, personable, knowledgeable, comical, and whatever else is GOOD. My server and I quickly hit it off, and we were off, on to the meal (Waitstaff enthusiasm +1).

That night I had three glasses of wine, but not in succession, simultaneously. Acquired first was a Sauvignon Blanc, then two Pinot noir joined the party soon after. I started with the modestly deemed, “cafe salad”.

Cafe Salad, artisanal greens, cornbread croutons, spiced pecan, ginger peach vinaigrette $5.50 added crispy goat cheese $1.50
This salad was so close to being coherent, but didn’t quite get it together for me. From what I can remember, the ginger peach vinaigrette had no hint of ginger (Flavor pairing fundamentals -1) and the cornbread croutons were texturally in a bad place between cornbread and crouton; a sort of ‘staleness’ (Texture profile -1). The spiced pecans were actually ‘spicy’ pecans; SO spicy that the rest of my meal was tainted by the lingering heat (Flavor pairing fundamentals -1). The crispy goat cheese was crispy and cheesy but lacked a connection to the dish. The presentation of this “house” salad was less interesting (Presentation -1). The greens with the peachy vinaigrette were refreshing. And all else worked well on paper; it was a nice sounding dish.

REVAMPED Cafe Salad, baby lettuces, cornbread croutons, candied pecan, ginger-peach vinaigrette $5.50

IMHO I would lose the word artisan in the description, it doesn’t really mean anything to me. I understand the greens were probably hand planted and harvested locally, but it’s just basic agriculture, there is no real specialized craft there. The croutons needed a nice deep frying; cornbread just doesn’t get crunchy without it. The spiced pecans would have been fine with a very mild heat, but I think taking them to the sweeter side would have allowed them to play with the others. And finally, the vinaigrette just needed more kick from the ginger.


That evening I discussed wine with two servers and the sommelier. It was agreed upon that a particular Pinot noir would be best paired with my main course, the braised duck leg with raspberry-beet reduction. But I had some notion that pairing this seemingly sweet and fruity duck preparation with Pinot noir would be fundamentally wrong. But I went with the suggestion and put my palate to work. Half of the components of this duck dish would have gone marvelously with any Pinot noir; braised duck leg, mushrooms, greens, garlic, onions, and even the beets. But with the addition of raspberry, sweet potato gnocchi, and sugar (I am sure of it), the flavors were just too bold and sweet for a Pinot noir (Beverage pairing -1). I was served a second Pinot noir to try, but it’s been so long that my brain and palate have lost connection; I forgot if I liked it or not. Aside from all this wine snobbery, the dish was inherently good.

Braised duck leg with sweet potato gnocchi, cippolini onion, seared mushroom, pecan, greens, raspberry-beet reduction $23 With huge flavor, this home-cooked southern feast, composed itself elegantly onto one plate. There was nothing backyard about this dish, yet its components all could have been found at a bbq. It had candied yams, sauteed sweet onions and mushrooms, collard greens, fruit glaze, and pecan pie. All to accompany some finger-lickin’, fall-off-the-bone duck leg, braised to perfection.

The duck had already fallen off the bone and was homogeneous among the earlier mentioned components... no, it was not a puree, but just too much like potato salad (Texture profile -1). Fortunately these flavors all paired beautifully together; strong enough to stand up against one another in such close quarters. The dish was just a bit too sweet and my palate had a small problem with the combination of raspberry and mushroom. But since all else was incorporated, the taste of this faulty pair was easily disguised. Visually, the colors of this dish were vibrant and warm. This duck dish was good like a sexy, glorified bbq (Dish sex factor +1).

REVAMPED - Braised duck leg with sweet potato gnocchi, cippolini onion, seared mushroom, pecan, greens, pinot noir reduction $23

In my humble opinion, leaving the duck leg whole would have given the components enough separation. Instead of a sweet raspberry beet sauce, a more savory Pinot noir reduction would have added more warmth and complimented the mushrooms, nuts, and greens better.

Strawberry-thyme tart with laurel ice cream $8

This modest tart was covered with a top layer of pastry, voiding its title as a tart (Menu cohesion -1). I believed its identity was closer to a pie or cobbler. This fresh, buttery pastry encased warm reduced strawberries, but no thyme, it needed more thyme. I believe this was the kicker ingredient for me, but it wasn’t kicking. This dessert also lacked acid; without lemon or vinegar and the thyme, there was no brightness (Flavor pairing fundamentals -1). The laurel ice cream was intended to pair with the thyme, but it was just left solo. And solo, it was delicious and perfectly executed.

REVAMPED Strawberry cobbler with lemon thyme ice cream $8
I would have changed the name to ‘strawberry cobbler‘ and added a lemon thyme ice cream to solve the acid problem.

I really liked Park Cafe. The atmosphere was literally homey, the staff were kind, the food was bold, and the prices were very reasonable (Pricing +1). Let’s see how they scored up.


------------------------
1. Menu cohesion -1
2. Pricing +1
3. Beverage pairings -1
4. Atmosphere for romance -1
5. Cleanliness 0
6. Waitstaff competence 0
7. Waitstaff enthusiasm +1
8. Overall management 0
9. Flavor pairing fundamentals -3
10. Flavor pairing originality 0
11. Texture Profile -2
12. Use of "easy-pleasers" 0
13. Use of salt 0
14. Doneness precision 0
15. Dish sin factor 0
16. Dish sex factor +1
17. Presentation -1
18. Dish practicality 0
19. Healthful dish execution 0
20. Kitchen speed 0

1st visit (100-4 = 96)
2nd visit (96-7 = 89)
-------------------------

0 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by DanielBF on 09/20/2010 at 4:18 PM

Re: “F. Scott's Restaurant

For the sake of brevity, I will just touch upon F. Scott’s Restaurant and Jazz Bar, who boasts nightly jazz with rich, extravagant fare. Jazzy it may be, F. Scotts is far from cool; this vanilla ‘hotel lobby’ is a favorite among old wealth, and I mean old.

I came in after 9 p.m. for their half priced entree specials, during a happy hour so to speak. This is an incredible deal for their extravagant preparations, and after having dinner, wine, and dessert once already that evening, my wallet didn’t need anymore of a workout.

I showed up expecting to have my cake and eat it too; sitting to watch free jazz with a half-priced entree sounded like a great deal. But the jazz groups play in the bar section which is separate from the dining room: the only place half price entrees were available. Reluctantly I sat in the dining room and as I gazed about, folks triple my age dined quietly which made this space feel even more out of style than it already was. The decor was a lousy attempt at a 1920s theme, with a few art deco murals on the walls. The ambiance lacked intimacy and romance, unless you really wanted to impress your grandma (Atmosphere for romance -5). I was hoping for more of an east egg mansion feel or perhaps a downtown NYC speakeasy theme.

F. Scott’s ambiance disappointed but the food soothed with its use of ‘easy-pleaser ingredients’, which were essentially bacon and cream. The shear quantity of these fatty fillers unfairly biased my opinion with guilty pleasure, but I know better now. The menu at F. Scott’s is cohesive and extravagant. Dishes include a lot of components with bold flavors, and seem to be composed in creative and delicious ways. Regionally, I would classify its style as French-southern fusion, like many of Nashville’s fine restaurants. And of course, dishes are rich, so the health conscious should dine with discretion.

Cauliflower puree soup with lemon brown butter and cornmeal fried oyster $9

The dish came looking like it had a rough journey from kitchen to table; the brown butter had diverged from a cutesy squirt design, to a hot, runny mess (Presentation -1). Aside from aesthetics, the soup was delicious. But basic it was, with an extremely high cream to cauliflower ratio (Use of easy-pleasers -1). The cornmeal fried oyster added a nice brininess to the round flavors of the soup and showed a bit of creativity. A chardonnay paired nicely with this bowl of cream, but the combination of the wine and oyster, was spectacular. The lemon was lost in the brown butter, leaving just butter. And ultimately, it was this pool of butter on top of cream that left me feeling quite fat (Use of easy-pleasers -1, Sin factor +1).

REVAMPED Cauliflower puree soup with lemon gastrique, brown butter, and cornmeal fried oyster $9

The menu description was not deceiving; I expected lots of cream, and the inclusion of butter was disclosed. The only aspect I would change is the lemon component. A separate lemon gastrique along side of the brown butter would have really made the soup pop.

Rainbow trout with fennel and bacon, greens and roasted red pepper-scallion butter $27 ($13.50 after 9 p.m.)

My entree arrived looking much more presentable than the soup. Two identical roulades of trout stood at either end of a long rectangular plate. Local greens rested under the fish and ‘red pepper-scallion butter’ was pooled about. It was visually appealing, and if you really like butter and bacon, this dish had an affinity to the heart, in a very threatening way. In this extremely rich ‘up do’ of trout, there was too much grease and butter, and frankly more fat could not have been squeezed into this dish. Let’s break it down. After trout, there was fennel, which according to the menu, was a feature. Then came the bacon, and finally the market greens which were smothered in what F. Scott's has called a roasted red pepper-scallion brown butter. This brown butter appeared more like diced roasted red peppers and scallions in brown butter. The dish sounded good on paper, looked good on a plate, but tasted like microwave pizza. Well sort of, the roasted red pepper, smokey bacon, and shear fat content reminded me of pizza. The smokiness of Benton’s bacon was so overbearing that I tasted not much else (Flavor pairing fundamentals -2). The roasted pepper and butter came through, like they would, but the fennel was completely lost in the smoke. Even the trout was hard to taste, which on a side note, was over done. This over doneness was disguised by the quantity of added fat in the dish (Doneness precision -2). This dish was also very salty and I must revoke a point here (Use of salt -1). Ultimately this dish was pretty good in a really smokey, unhealthy way (Use of easy-pleasers -2). I also preemptively deduct one point for ‘Health dish execution’ because I have a hunch that this would be out of F. Scott’s comfort zone (Health dish execution -1).

REVAMPED Rainbow trout with fennel and bacon, greens and roasted red pepper-scallion butter $27 ($13.50 after 9 p.m.)

I would have not used Benton's bacon, it's just too smokey and pedestrian for high cuisine. Prosciutto would have been perfect wrapped in the trout roulade. Fennel is too delicate for all the big flavors of butter, ham, and red pepper. I think the dish would have worked well without it.

Additional grudged deductions:

F. Scott's has no sex appeal (Sex factor -3)
The waitstaff bored me just like the crowd (Waitstaff enthusiasm -2)

------------------------
1. Menu cohesion 0
2. Pricing 0
3. Beverage pairings -1
4. Atmosphere for romance -5
5. Cleanliness 0
6. Waitstaff competence 0
7. Waitstaff enthusiasm -2
8. Overall management 0
9. Flavor pairing fundamentals -2
10. Flavor pairing originality 0
11. Texture Profile 0
12. Use of "easy-pleasers" -4
13. Use of salt -1
14. Doneness precision -2
15. Dish sin factor +1
16. Dish sex factor -3
17. Presentation -1
18. Dish practicality 0
19. Healthful dish execution -1
20. Kitchen speed 0

1st visit (100-21 = 79)
-------------------------

2 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by DanielBF on 09/20/2010 at 4:17 PM

Re: “Margot Cafe And Bar

She’s an elegantly rustic, French-Italian, just seconds away from my condo. The tour began close to home, for if I decided that all this posh posh made me sick, I could waddle home with ease. Margot is a stronghold of the 5 Points intersection in East Nashville. 5 Points is a hip, understated, semi-gay, up and coming out neighborhood in Nashville. And with sister cafe, Marche Artisan Foods just around the way, this pair stakes its claim for fine dining east of the river.

Since the beginning of all this eating insanity, I have dined at Margot twice. My premier dining experience at Margot was... well, read on. Miss Margot, await your second, high-scoring evaluation, you secured redemption, and provided me with ”enough” data to conclude this analysis.

With simplicity, like the rustic Margot Cafe and Bar, I will skip the lavish imagery, avoid whimsical sketches of ambiance and aroma, and maintain a strict, scientific method of review. I will treat the subjects like objects and stick to the numbers, even though all this banter is completely subjective. Margot is a relatively small space with one whole first floor, half of a second floor, and a glassed-in patio with 270 degrees of windows. The primary space is open and lofty with exposed brick, yet warm and cozy... whoops, opulence. But really, Margot is quite romantic, but we'll get into that later. And if you are still wondering about Marche, the restaurateur's casual half, you'll have to wait until that post.

The host of a fancy restaurant generally seats parties of one at the bar; I reluctantly sat at the bar. With the worst seat in the house, I attempted to get comfortable. I told myself to focus on the food, and if Margot wasn't to lose points, the food had better be spectacular. Sitting at the bar inhibited me from collecting important table service data. Oh the woes... uncomfortably seated near the dishwashing side of the kitchen, there was nothing redeeming about MY position. I sat uneasy and unknowing, as all the culinary action transpired on the other side of the kitchen. There was no romance in the air, so I just stared at the ceiling (Atmosphere for romance -1).

I spurred consultation with the bartendress on wine pairings for my entree. She was unknowledgeable, but the wine list looked comprehensive and I believed somebody in the house knew something about wine (Wine pairing -3). I ordered a Sauvignon Blanc and the first two courses.

Margot has a brief offering of safe, yet creative French and Italian inspired dishes. The daily episode features dishes composed of locally acquired vegetables, meats, and cheeses, which are prepared in a rustic and healthful execution. There lies a nice menu theme; Margot has a touch of elegance.

First course - Herbed ricotta pizza with squash blossoms $9
In a perfect culinary world, the delicate flavor of the blossoms deserve to make the headlines and the cheese would hang back on the 4th page. But on the front page that night at Margot, HERBED RICOTTA laced with peppercorn was printed in big bold letters, stealing the cover (Flavor pairing fundamentals -2). To top it off, the bottom of this pie was chewy and underdone, I would have preferred a ‘dough done crisp’ (Doneness precision -2). Crispy dough would have also added a second textural dimension for me. But this pizza of fluffy cheese, mushy squash blossoms, and chewy dough was close to mono-textural (Texture profile -3). The pizza’s appearance was doughy, cheesy white, with hints of orange and yellow blossom; divided in four, it sat on a plate (Presentation -1, Dish sex factor -1). So here we have a few fundamentals that were overlooked. STOP THE PRESSES!, with a new menu issued daily, the editors MUST be up all night!

Revamped first course - Ricotta pizza with squash blossoms, crispy shallots, and eucalyptus honey $10 In my humble opinion, a plain ricotta or other quiet, lightweight cheese may have worked better to complement the subtle aromatics of the squash blossoms. And fine, keep the light, chewy dough, but give me some crisp and some saucy stuff! Fried shallots, a drizzle of eucalyptus honey, and fruity olive oil would have been divine. An ice cold Prosecco would be "pants down" the best boozy beverage to pair with this new and improved 1st course pizza.

I sipped my Sauvignon Blanc, awaiting the main course I chose with malicious intention. An extraneous vegan dish that was tacked onto the end of the menu would be the tell-all plate of the night. I put Margot to the test with their healthful yet bland sounding dish.

Couscous with fresh local figs, pine nuts, and a chard and kale salad $16
Small couscous seasoned with salt and olive oil at the bottom, toasted pine nuts strewn about, with under-ripe whole green figs and a lightly dressed raw kale and chard salad to top. It was boring (Flavor pairing originality -2). AND it was mostly bland (Flavor pairing fundamentals -2). All together, it was light and had hints of quality olive oil and sea salt. Its appearance was as I described it, a mere mound of couscous and vegetables. (Presentation -1)(Dish sex factor -3). So I ask, why do it if it’s not done with excellence? Making luscious and sophisticated vegan fare takes some creativity, but it is not difficult by any means. With such a rustic and simplistic menu, I figured this vegan dish would impress in its inherent nature, but its components just lacked the luster, and the dish as a whole lacked a means of tying it all together. Here, a “Sin factor” would have played nicely; every restaurant’s vegan dish needs to sin a little, but for this safe, healthy little angel, four points were deducted (Sin factor -4). I was not impressed, but I’ve said enough on this (Healthful dish execution -3)

Revamped main course - Israeli couscous and pine nut timbale with rosemary-lemon marinated figs, chard salad, and mint "yogurt" $18 - In my humble opinion, I would improve this vegan-blunder with an Israeli couscous & pine nut timbale to add a structural element. Rosemary and lemon marinated figs to add brightness and a great bite. Keep the chard salad and add a mint "yogurt" to tie it all together with a sauce element. A pairing with a dry Rose or a light-bodied Zinfandel may work nicely.

Dessert is my favorite aspect of “no rules” eating. I am literally fatter now, it’s just marvelous. I really like bold desserts that are heavy with nuts, dough, cinnamon, caramel, vanilla, custard, and liqueur sauces. So I picked my poison and waited. I hoped this final course would keep Margot afloat after a near shipwreck.

Pecan brioche bread pudding with caramel whiskey sauce and whipped cream $7 - This dessert was GOOD, I certainly enjoyed the warm flavors of this comfort food, but of course, this being a critical review, I had to pick it apart. I may be a novice when it comes to dessert, and therefore easy to please. With respect to my lean figure, I have avoided honing my dessert-preparing skills. However, I still have taste buds and know what I like. Never having a bread pudding before, I could only assume it to be halfway between bread and pudding. So, since my experience at Margot, I conducted some supplemental research on bread pudding and came to the following understanding. Bread pudding is made by taking stale, highly absorbent bread, soaking it in a basic custard, and baking it lightly in the oven. A caramel sauce and/or whipped cream usually tops it off. IMHO, I’d prefer the bread pudding to be favoring the puddin' side of thangs; bread just doesn’t sound like a good dessert. Margot’s bread pudding was teetering towards the bread side. And yes, while it was brioche, I still felt like I was eating a breakfast pastry or a piece of less sweet cake, I really wanted some PUDDIN’! The pecans in this dish were background noise, and didn’t do much for me. The whiskey sauce was nice and sweet, but tasted more like caramel than whiskey. The freshly whipped cream on top was a refreshing lubricant for this otherwise semi-dry piece of brioche (Dish sin factor -1, Texture profile -1).

Revamped dessert - Brioche bread pudding with whiskey sauce, cinnamon, and orange zest topped with vanilla pecan ice cream $8 - This bread pudding was thirsty for more custard; a super-saturated brioche would have been divine. A boozier whiskey sauce with MORE whiskey and LESS sugar would have added intense warmth. Complement that with the warm aromatics of cinnamon baked into a brioche and brightness of orange zest sprinkled on top. Replace the airy, unsweetened whipped cream with vanilla pecan ice cream, and I would have been in the heavens.



A few last thoughts covering criteria I left out...

The pricing at Margot seemed fitting at $21-$26 for meaty entrees. And although Margot's debut was weaker than expected, my vegan dish was only $16. I had faith in a restaurant of this caliber and knew I had to spend more money to get the good stuff.

I will close up the romance and atmosphere report. I thought the physical space of Margot was very refined yet rustic, open yet warm, relaxing (if sitting at a table), and definitely hot date material. I even think there is a make out room upstairs, but since they definitely wouldn't sit a party of one in the make out room, I hadn't the chance to go up yet. So, with resentment I revoked that one point.

The cleanliness at Margot was certainly looked after. And since I came home without food poisoning or gum on my shoe, no points will be deducted.

Waitstaff ratings could not be included in this report because of my position at the bar. But whilst spinning around on my stool, the staff hustled by, impressing me with their earnest professionalism.

Overall management seemed effective and efficient.

Kitchen speed was 20% slower than I wanted; this is totally arbitrary and biased by my uncomfortable position. But we'll say the duration of time between placing an order and having the first thought that my food should be done was prolonged by 20% (Kitchen speed -1)

------------------------
1. Menu cohesion -0
2. Pricing -0
3. Beverage pairings -3
4. Atmosphere for romance -1
5. Cleanliness -0
6. Waitstaff competence -0
7. Waitstaff enthusiasm -0
8. Overall management -0
9. Flavor pairing fundamentals -4
10. Flavor pairing originality -4
11. Texture Profile -4
12. Use of "easy-pleasers" -0
13. Use of salt -0
14. Doneness precision -2
15. Dish sin factor -5
16. Dish sex factor -4
17. Presentation -2
18. Dish practicality -0
19. Healthful dish execution -3
20. Kitchen speed -1

100-33 = 77
-------------------------


This review was long and painful, my apologies. But I would like to make a few positive concluding remarks. Although my premier experience at Margot was disappointing, I have some of that 'sick puppy' faith to come back. I am always impressed by the daily menu which I frequently look at online, last night's "Pan-roasted duck breast with polenta croutons, pickled peaches, and preserved lemon" sounded really good. The space is lovely, the staff are seemingly passionate, and the food, I know, has potential to please. I will definitely be coming back.

Let's hope Margot bumps up her 77% with a redeeming second visit.


-Dan

Posted by DanielBF on 09/20/2010 at 4:16 PM

Re: “Margot Cafe And Bar

Late on a Tuesday night, I was excited to give Margot another shot. I showed up at 9 and requested a table. No problem, the restaurant had definitely slowed down. Left in the room were a few couples, young and old, schmoozing the night away. I sat at my table for one, ready to be “taken care of”. I really felt the romance this time (Atmosphere for romance +1). The only server left on the first floor was a man in his 40s, a distinguished and professional server. He was attentive but not overbearing, and knowledgeable but not overtly opinionated; he made menu suggestions based on how well-recieved the dishes were by patrons that night. He was however less enthusiastic than I would have hoped; I wanted to make small talk, but I suppose it was too late in the evening for that (Waitstaff enthusiasm -1). To start, lettuce with peaches...

Leaf lettuces, peaches, ricotta salata, and Marcona almonds, with a Banyuls vinaigrette $9 -
This salad was just exquisite. Bold, round sweetness of Banyuls wine with a slight tang of vinegar, nutty oil, and fresh, sweet peach made this salad luscious. The hard, salted ricotta and the toasty almonds cut through the sweetness with aggressive nut; a sort of savoriness. My only scruple was the slickness of the oil to vinegar ratio; near the bottom of the plate I was confronted with lettuce drowning in oil (Texture profile -1). Overall, this sex-laden dish was an incredible and creative match of flavors. I redeem Margot several precious points (Flavor pairing fundamentals +2, Flavor pairing originality +2, Dish sex factor +2).

I thought long about the selection of my main dish, and what would be the most complementing boozy beverage to pair. I knew I wanted fish, so I chose the ‘seared tuna, Romano bean and lentil salad, with bacon vinaigrette’. I presumed a Pinot noir would pair best with this bold preparation of tuna, my server agreed with my selection by stating, “Yes, a Pinot noir, it goes with everything...” Then and there, this statement and his demeanor provoked several thoughts of my own, “Was he just saying that to appease me? Does he actually think a Pinot noir goes with everything? Or does he think I ordered a Pinot noir in respect to its boom of popularity since the movie Sideways?”. Regardless of what he thought, I was more confident in my selection than he alluded. I know that Pinot noir would probably stand up to this tuna dish, but I was hoping he had something EVEN BETTER up his sleeve (Wine pairings -1).

Seared tuna, romano bean & lentil salad with bacon vinaigrette $24 - A generously portioned mound of room temperature lentils, romano broad beans, mirepoix, and crispy bacon sat beneath a fresh, rare-seared tuna steak (Doneness precision +1). A big bad bacon vinaigrette tied it all together. This super-porky fish dish was delicious, for lack of a better word (Flavor pairing fundamentals +1). The fresh, healthy attributes of tuna and lentils were completely undermined by bacon grease (Dish sin factor +1). And although the wine was nearly clobbered by the abundance of ‘bacony’ flavor, I still enjoyed the meal. After all, I did choose the wine myself. Overall, this second course confirmed my earlier impression of how rustic Margot is. The size of this dish was generous, with the tuna steak nearing 1/3 of a pound and the mound of legumes amounting to “more than I wanted to eat”. I was pleased with my entree, I retract no points, and have no nit picking to do.

Peach bread pudding (with ice cream... maybe? I forget) $8 -
Finally, I ordered dessert, why wouldn’t I? I even gave Margot another shot at bread pudding! This time, a peach version done in a medium-sized ramekin. This was more interesting than the one I had previously, yet was even more dry (Texture profile -1). I think there was ice cream included with this, so I was slightly pacified (Dish sin factor +1). But this final course lacked a ‘kicker ingredient’ (you will hear this term frequently). The ‘kicker’ adds a third or fourth dimension to an otherwise flat combination of flavors, here I would have liked cinnamon OR ginger. In this peach bread pudding, all I tasted was bread, a little bit of pudding, and under-ripe peach (Flavor pairing originality -1).

This night at Margot was more wholesome; I felt I could really understand where she was coming from. There lies an air of serious modesty in a casual atmosphere. Do not expect extravagant presentations and ‘5th dimension’ flavor profiles that take your buds to Venus. But do enjoy the crude sophistication of creative, yet safe meals composed of fresh, local ingredients. The creativity that goes into the daily menu should be fully appreciated; eat at Margot frequently, enjoy the menu’s coherent elegance.

www.margotcafe.com


------------------------
1. Menu cohesion 0
2. Pricing 0
3. Beverage pairings -1
4. Atmosphere for romance +1
5. Cleanliness 0
6. Waitstaff competence 0
7. Waitstaff enthusiasm -1
8. Overall management 0
9. Flavor pairing fundamentals +3
10. Flavor pairing originality +1
11. Texture Profile -2
12. Use of "easy-pleasers" 0
13. Use of salt 0
14. Doneness precision +1
15. Dish sin factor +2
16. Dish sex factor +2
17. Presentation 0
18. Dish practicality 0
19. Healthful dish execution 0
20. Kitchen speed 0

1st visit (100-33 = 77)
2nd visit (77+6 = 83)
-------------------------

Posted by DanielBF on 09/20/2010 at 4:15 PM

Re: “Park Cafe

HERE'S A LONG WINDED REVIEW!

On a Friday, the neighborhood around Park Cafe was respectively parked-up, but again, I procured my favorite parking spot between the dumpster and a barrel of fryer oil. I was greeted by their kind manager/sommelier, who situated me at a two seater in what may have been a small study or library. I realized that I had no romantic affinity towards this room; there were other realms of Park Cafe that were better suited for love (Atmosphere for romance -1). I will say it again, the staff at Park are a great group, they are polite, laid back, engaging, personable, knowledgeable, comical, and whatever else is GOOD. My server and I quickly hit it off, and we were off, on to the meal (Waitstaff enthusiasm +1).

That night I had three glasses of wine, but not in succession, simultaneously. Acquired first was a Sauvignon Blanc, then two Pinot noir joined the party soon after. I started with the modestly deemed, “cafe salad”.

Cafe Salad, artisanal greens, cornbread croutons, spiced pecan, ginger peach vinaigrette $5.50 added crispy goat cheese $1.50
This salad was so close to being coherent, but didn’t quite get it together for me. From what I can remember, the ginger peach vinaigrette had no hint of ginger (Flavor pairing fundamentals -1) and the cornbread croutons were texturally in a bad place between cornbread and crouton; a sort of ‘staleness’ (Texture profile -1). The spiced pecans were actually ‘spicy’ pecans; SO spicy that the rest of my meal was tainted by the lingering heat (Flavor pairing fundamentals -1). The crispy goat cheese was crispy and cheesy but lacked a connection to the dish. The presentation of this “house” salad was less interesting (Presentation -1). The greens with the peachy vinaigrette were refreshing. And all else worked well on paper; it was a nice sounding dish.

REVAMPED Cafe Salad, baby lettuces, cornbread croutons, candied pecan, ginger-peach vinaigrette $5.50

IMHO I would lose the word artisan in the description, it doesn’t really mean anything to me. I understand the greens were probably hand planted and harvested locally, but it’s just basic agriculture, there is no real specialized craft there. The croutons needed a nice deep frying; cornbread just doesn’t get crunchy without it. The spiced pecans would have been fine with a very mild heat, but I think taking them to the sweeter side would have allowed them to play with the others. And finally, the vinaigrette just needed more kick from the ginger.


That evening I discussed wine with two servers and the sommelier. It was agreed upon that a particular Pinot noir would be best paired with my main course, the braised duck leg with raspberry-beet reduction. But I had some notion that pairing this seemingly sweet and fruity duck preparation with Pinot noir would be fundamentally wrong. But I went with the suggestion and put my palate to work. Half of the components of this duck dish would have gone marvelously with any Pinot noir; braised duck leg, mushrooms, greens, garlic, onions, and even the beets. But with the addition of raspberry, sweet potato gnocchi, and sugar (I am sure of it), the flavors were just too bold and sweet for a Pinot noir (Beverage pairing -1). I was served a second Pinot noir to try, but it’s been so long that my brain and palate have lost connection; I forgot if I liked it or not. Aside from all this wine snobbery, the dish was inherently good.

Braised duck leg with sweet potato gnocchi, cippolini onion, seared mushroom, pecan, greens, raspberry-beet reduction $23 With huge flavor, this home-cooked southern feast, composed itself elegantly onto one plate. There was nothing backyard about this dish, yet its components all could have been found at a bbq. It had candied yams, sauteed sweet onions and mushrooms, collard greens, fruit glaze, and pecan pie. All to accompany some finger-lickin’, fall-off-the-bone duck leg, braised to perfection.

The duck had already fallen off the bone and was homogeneous among the earlier mentioned components... no, it was not a puree, but just too much like potato salad (Texture profile -1). Fortunately these flavors all paired beautifully together; strong enough to stand up against one another in such close quarters. The dish was just a bit too sweet and my palate had a small problem with the combination of raspberry and mushroom. But since all else was incorporated, the taste of this faulty pair was easily disguised. Visually, the colors of this dish were vibrant and warm. This duck dish was good like a sexy, glorified bbq (Dish sex factor +1).

REVAMPED - Braised duck leg with sweet potato gnocchi, cippolini onion, seared mushroom, pecan, greens, pinot noir reduction $23

In my humble opinion, leaving the duck leg whole would have given the components enough separation. Instead of a sweet raspberry beet sauce, a more savory Pinot noir reduction would have added more warmth and complimented the mushrooms, nuts, and greens better.

Strawberry-thyme tart with laurel ice cream $8

This modest tart was covered with a top layer of pastry, voiding its title as a tart (Menu cohesion -1). I believed its identity was closer to a pie or cobbler. This fresh, buttery pastry encased warm reduced strawberries, but no thyme, it needed more thyme. I believe this was the kicker ingredient for me, but it wasn’t kicking. This dessert also lacked acid; without lemon or vinegar and the thyme, there was no brightness (Flavor pairing fundamentals -1). The laurel ice cream was intended to pair with the thyme, but it was just left solo. And solo, it was delicious and perfectly executed.

REVAMPED Strawberry cobbler with lemon thyme ice cream $8
I would have changed the name to ‘strawberry cobbler‘ and added a lemon thyme ice cream to solve the acid problem.

I really liked Park Cafe. The atmosphere was literally homey, the staff were kind, the food was bold, and the prices were very reasonable (Pricing +1). Let’s see how they scored up.


------------------------
1. Menu cohesion -1
2. Pricing +1
3. Beverage pairings -1
4. Atmosphere for romance -1
5. Cleanliness 0
6. Waitstaff competence 0
7. Waitstaff enthusiasm +1
8. Overall management 0
9. Flavor pairing fundamentals -3
10. Flavor pairing originality 0
11. Texture Profile -2
12. Use of "easy-pleasers" 0
13. Use of salt 0
14. Doneness precision 0
15. Dish sin factor 0
16. Dish sex factor +1
17. Presentation -1
18. Dish practicality 0
19. Healthful dish execution 0
20. Kitchen speed 0

1st visit (100-4 = 96)
2nd visit (96-7 = 89)
-------------------------

Posted by DanielBF on 09/20/2010 at 3:48 PM

Re: “Park Cafe

Extremely Romantic and great personal service from the servers.

Posted by Dansaman on 09/08/2010 at 11:36 AM

Re: “Zumi Sushi Japanese Kitchen

bad waitresses need more experinced watresses love the chicken noodle kind of

Posted by john lang on 08/29/2010 at 9:55 PM

Re: “Bricktop's

love the bbq chicken flatbread mmmm

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by john lang on 08/29/2010 at 9:49 PM

Re: “The Yellow Porch

This is a great place for a date night out with your special someone or just going out with your friends! The atmosphere is great! The food was amazing. There was 12 people in our group and we all shared of each others plates. There was not a bad meal at all that night. I loved the long bench on the side wall with nothing but throw pillows for back cushions.

1 like, 1 dislike
Posted by jc3 on 08/18/2010 at 10:30 AM

Re: “tayst [closed]

I applaud Tayst for thinking outside of the box, however, execution leaves a lot to be desired. Some of the more interesting combination ideas on the menu were the PBJ Duck and the blue cheese ice cream grass fed steak. Our party started with a cheese plate sampler. While the cheeses were good, the portion size was fit for a doll house. I ordered the blue cheese ice cream steak because I thought the juxtaposition of hot and cold was intriguing and innovative.However, what it amounted to was a $35 cold steak as the ice cream sucked all the heat from the meat. My friend ordered the bison steak, once again served in a puddle of cold gazpacho with the same result, a cold piece of meat which proved that there was a reason that the culinary idea of mixing hot and cold was abandoned a long time ago. The only thing edible was my wife's scallops and a great selection of wine. I can't say that it was a completely unenjoyable experience though because the conversation about how bad the combinations turned out to be lasted well into the next week. We will most likely go back to Tayst as a wine bar but not as a restaurant.

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by WB on 08/15/2010 at 8:17 AM

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