Saturday, June 05, 2010

Critic for a day

I haven't been wow'd by a meal in a long time. I think the last really fabulous meals I ate with my family (i.e., excluding last week's trip to New Mexico) were in Seattle. We ate at Wild Ginger on our trip for Mother's Day and had a most fantastic sushi dinner in Belltown with the kids in a tiny little place that our concierge assured us was kid friendly. It wasn't really from first appearances, but they were good - they entertained and fawned over the kids while AB and I ate some truly awesome sushi.

Unfortunately, I don't usually hold high hopes especially when we eat out in town. Tonight was no different.

Right now I am reading "Garlic and Sapphires, A Diary of a Critic in Disguise" by Ruth Reichl. I really, really enjoy Ruth's writing. This is her third novel I have devoured. As I read, I think about a life on a different planet as a food critic.

So here I sit - living out my little food critic fantasy.

This evening we went to "Fat Olives", the new Italian joint. We passed two families leaving when we walked in wearing our standard clothes, not dressed up. I thought seeing families leave was a good sign.

We waited only a few minutes for the table for 5, which was really just a card table looking thing with a high chair perched at a corner.

Ever try to feed a three year old - or any small child for that matter - at a corner of a table?

As we headed in my sister in law pointed to the small print at the bottom that expressed disdain for crying children. Ok, so it cited the bad acoustics, and then asked that any small children be removed outside while dining. I guess I just think that if you are going to have a whole menu page devoted to pizza, then instructions on how to deal with your children are probably not hitting the target audience. And really, this are is like huge on kids, people like it here because it is a great place to raise kids. Kid unfriendly restaurants are just a bad fit.

I believe that the attitude tossed our way by the waitress was probably thanks to the kids. Or maybe that we weren't dressed up. Or maybe both. She was hurried and short with us.

The selections weren't abundant, and there was a little concern at the table when at 6:30pm two of the specials were nearly gone - one serving of pork shank left and three of the lamb. We ordered a small pizza for the kids, I ordered the house calzone, AB ordered the pork shank and my SIL ordered the lamb.

I asked for milk for the kids, which they did not have milk. Yes, seriously. We ordered instead a bottle of apple juice for them to split.

A few minutes after ordering the waitress came back and informed AB there was no pork shank left and handed him the menu.

Over the years we have had opportunity to eat some really fabulous meals and we have spent the last decade or so refining our cooking. AB cooks meat quite well and will only order meat in a restaurant when it is a type he doesn't cook. So the waitress repeatedly recommending the rib eye or the pork tenderloin was going nowhere fast. He finally settled on a clam and mussel Alfredo sauce dish.

The food arrived and was fine. The lamb was done nicely and tasted good. But it was a boring dish. No pizazz on the lamb. It was served with asparagus and potatoes. Both prepared fine. But for AB and me, this is a routine weeknight dinner that we can whip together in 45 minutes... blindfolded.

AB's pasta was lackluster, he felt the sauce didn't match the seafood. Though he said "it is fine". My calzone was good, though I have to admit that I far prefer the calzones from the restaurant near work. The best dish at our table was the 12" pizza that the kids had. They ate it well, each tackling nearly two pieces.

The food was fine. But at the price we paid, we would be hard pressed to go back. Except maybe for the pizza. But I wouldn't go there to eat the pizza... we would pick up and bring home.

One star of five.

1 comment:

RAB said...

Eric and I felt the same. Service was bordering on so-so. Our waitress never returned after delivering our food until she wanted the table turned over and brought the check.

The pizza was decent, but not enough to take us back. If we want good Italian food, it's Carmine's for us.