Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Dinks are going to Hawaii!

So my new husband and I will be taking our long awaited honeymoon in a little over a week. We will be taking a cruise around the islands and then staying on Kauai for a week. We are extremely excited to be trying some of the worlds best seafood! So when we get back, I will be sure to update the blog with some of our food adventures!

But if you guys have some recommendations, we would love to hear them!

Long Time No a 3-fer

Ok, so I've been a bad bad restaurant reviewer. But that is due to laziness, not because my hubby & I have stopped eating out. For to make up for lost time, I will have a review of 3 local restaurants: Flemings Steak House, McCormicks and Schmicks, and Hi5 Sports Bar.

First Up: Flemings Steak House

Ok, so I have previously mentioned that my husband has only called one steak the best ever and it happened to be at the Flemings Steak House in Tampa. Needless to say, we both had very high expectations for the new Flemings restaurant that just opened in Crabtree Valley Mall. I am happy to report that the food does not disappoint. I took my husband out for his birthday.

For the appetizer course, we had the sweet chili calamari. It was a little lighter than most calamari dishes that I have had. But it was very tasty!

For the main entrees, my husband had the 7 oz filet minon. I ordered the special for the evening, a 7 oz filet minon with a red wine and shitaki mushroom reduction and crab on top. They both came with mashed potatoes. My steak was perfectly cooked and extremely tender. My husband stated that his steak was perfectly cooked and very tender. When asked how it compared to the steak he had in Tampa, he said that the Tampa steak was still number one, but this one came a close second.

For dessert, we had to order the chocolate lava cake. The cake came with a pistachio cookie and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. And because it was hubby's bday, a candle. :) Needless to say, if you only order one thing at this restaurant, make sure it is the chocolate lava cake!! It is a slice of heaven with a gooey chocolate center. To top it all off, our waiter gave us a box of chocolate covered strawberries as a birthday present. Overall this Flemings restaurant is terrific, maybe not quite up to the high expectations of the Tampa one, but I think given a little more time for the chefs & waitstaff to get into their groove, it could surpass the Tampa restaurant. The only complaint that I would give this restaurant is that they need to adjust the lighting. It was rather dark in the restaurant. Overall grade: A
Next Up: McCormicks and Schmitz
Ok, so next up happens to be the restaurant next door to Flemings. McCormicks and Schmicks. I did not have my camera with me for this one, so no pics of the dishes. And unfortunately, I don't really have a very long review since it was awhile since we ate here and I don't have pics to remind me of what was served. Hubby and I shared a ceasar salad as our appetizer. For our entrees, Hubby had the wild caught salmon plate. For my entree I had the wild caught sampler, which had salmon, ono, and a crabcake. Hubby said that his fish was slightly overcooked. Sadly, my salmon was extremely overcooked and I was forced to send it back. My ono and crabcake were wonderful though. However by the time the new piece of salmon had come out, I was pretty full from the other fish and the sides that came with it. We were both so full that we couldn't have dessert. I would say that this is certainly not the best seafood restaurant I've been to in the area, but it has potential from the aspect of the wide selection of seafood that they offer. I will give this restaurant another try before I completely write them off, but for now they receive a C due to the overcooked fish.
Next Up: High5 Sports Bar
Ok, let me first say that while my husband and I like to eat at nice restaurants, we are not opposed to eating at a lower-end restaurant from time to time. Last night, we were going to a show at the local comedy club and decided to grab some appetizers at High5 since we weren't overly hungry. Now, I don't expect 5-star service or gourmet meals from a sports bar, but I do have mild expections for any restaurants when it comes to these categories. Needless to say, I did not experience even a resemblence of service or edible food, or even cleanliness.
We were seated at a table that had not been bused yet from the previous occupants, but the hostess assured us that she would send someone to wipe down the table. Well, 20 minutes later, our waiter finally arrived to take our drink order and I had to ask him to wipe down the table, even though there was obvious food scraps still on the table. (Mind you the restaurant is about 1/2 full and there were several waiters standing at the bar laughing and chatting with each other.) I ordered a glass of red wine and a water. When my wine arrived, I noticed the wine glass was dirty...I had to wait another 15 minutes before our waiter returned and I asked for a new glass of wine. Now if I were in charge of a restaurant and a guest who was served a beverage in a dirty glass asked for a new glass, I would pour a new glass, not simply pour the beverage in the dirty glass into a new glass...but that is exactly what the bartender did.
In terms of our food, my husband ordered nachos and wings, and I ordered a chicken salad. 45 minutes later, we actually saw our food. The nachos were stale and the beef topping wasn't that great. My chicken was rubbery and the salad was drowned in the chili-lime dressing. The wings were ok, but honestly I think we would have been better served if we had gone to Chick-fil-a. We were extremely unhappy with the whole meal and we will not be returning to this restaurant, ever! Grade: F

Monday, December 29, 2008

Bloomsbury Bistro Review

Sorry, long time no post. But lucky readers get a two-fer! First up, Bloomsbury Bistro. My husband and I went to Bloomsbury Bistro a few weeks back. This will mark the 3rd time we've eaten there. Since they have a seasonal menu, everytime we go back, there's something new to try.

For the appetizer course, I had the butternut squash bisque with granny smith apples and blue cheese crumbles. The bisque was excellent. The cheese was an excellent compliment to the tartness of the apples. And one of my favorite foods this time of year is butternut, so it's a win-win for me!

My husband had the winter ragout with venison, cremini mushrooms, roasted tomatoes, pumpkin gnocchi, and glazed chestnuts. Aside from the fact that he doesn't like mushrooms, he said the dish was very good. (He did pick around the mushrooms.)

For the main course, Josh had the beef short ribs over sauteed spinach and red cabbage with apples. The dish looked delish and it was cooked perfectly. Josh throughly enjoyed it. In fact he enjoyed it so much that he practically licked the bowl.

For my main course, I chose the chef's special: Pistachio-crusted red snapper. Sadly, I was not a fan. It reminded me too much of those frozen fish sticks. The salad underneath was tasty, but I didn't eat the fish.

However, the dessert course was wonderful. We decided to share the sampler. There was a toffee pudding, vanilla ice cream over a pistachio cookie, and a death-by-chocolate brownie with chocolate syrup. I wasn't a fan of the toffee pudding, but the rest of the dessert course was great.

Overall, I was disappointed with the entree, but the dessert and appetizer courses were good. I will have to give this meal a C+. However, I will say that all the other meals I've had here were wonderful. So I will definately give Bloomsbury another chance.

Tomorrow I will post my review of Flemings.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Sono Review

My husband and I went to Sono for dinner last night. I will have to apologize for not having pictures to accompany my review. My camera batteries died in the restaurant, so I swiped the sushi menu from the Sono website to give you some idea of what the food looks like. This will mark the 3rd time we have been to this restaurant, so you can probably gather we are fans! It is not the best sushi in town (for that you'd have to go to Waraji), but it is definately good.

Some of their specality rolls are fantanstic, some...not so special. My husband likes the sono roll, which is a lot of fish rolled into a roll. Personally, I enjoyed the surf & turf roll, however, due to my husband's lactose intolerance, we got it without the cream cheese. It was still wonderful!
For my appetizer, I had the cream of asparagus soup. The soup was rather bland and didn't have a lot of taste to it. Of course, this could also be because I'm fighting off a cold and my taste buds aren't what they should be. However, I don't think I will be ordering the soup again.
I wanted to try the bulgogi quesadillas but apparently they are not offered (nor were they ever offered, which was disappointing). We were informed that the menu was going to be changed shortly due to the fact that the chef tried and immediately regretting adding this dish to his menu. BTW, this will be the 3rd time the menu has changed since the restaurant opened. I think the chef should probably try his dishes BEFORE he prints up the menus.
For our entrees, my husband had the filet minon and I ordered from the sushi menu. (Don't be fooled by the menus that they give you when you sit is not an extensive list of the sushi they offer. You have to specifically ask for the sushi menu to see the full extent of sushi & sashimi that they offer). I ordered the Red & White tuna sashimi dish and the Piano and Tiger Eye rolls (sans cream cheese).
The filet minon came out first (even though we asked that everything be brought out together) and my husband dug in. He said it was cooked correctly and it was a very good steak. (He has only rated 1 steak as "fantastic" and that was in a restaurant in Tampa, so "very good" is high praise.) He was pretty much 3/4 of the way through his meal by the time my sushi got there. I cannot praise the timing of the meal at all, but the sushi was very good. I personally love tuna (specifically white tuna) and my entree was perfect. It showcased two different cuts of white tuna and two types of red tuna. I enjoyed the Piano roll, but it won't be on my list of favorites from this restaurant. I did not enjoy the Tiger Eye. The combination of smoked salmon and jalapeno sounded interesting in theory. But the reality of it was not appetizing. Maybe the cream cheese would have added another dimension of flavor, but as it was...not very good.
I had a very nice glass of Pinot Noir with my dinner. Cono Sur is a wonderful pinot that isn't too earthy to overpower the delicate taste of sushi. I highly recommend buying a bottle if you find it somewhere. It retails around $15/bottle (of course, it was $8/glass at the restaurant). And if you happen to find a bottle somewhere...let me know, cause I've been looking for one!
Overall, I give this experience a B+. The food was tasty, the timing left something to be desired. The decor was asian-inspired. Just don't get distracted by the very large woman painted on the wall.
PS. Don't use the valet service. We made this mistake and were late to the theater because of it. Since techincally it is not run by the restaurant, I cannot fault them for this. But the valet gets a BIG F (and no tip!)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Solas Review

Last night we went to Solas in downtown Raleigh for dinner. From the outside, the place looks like an upscale NYC nightclub that is sitting in the middle of Glenwood. Inside, the atmosphere is similar. The loud thumping music did not create the relaxed dining vibe that I would expect from an upscale restaurant. Especially since it was a Tuesday night and only a handful of patrons were in the restaurant. We were practically shouting over the table at one another. Aside from that, the decor was very nice. White linens and sheer curtains highlight the blue lighting scheme. Aside from the music, I found the overall effect very pleasing.

Onto the food! The appetizer list was extensive! Some of the more interesting features on the menu are: Elk Carpaccio, Foie Gras, Duck Consomme, and Kobe Sliders. We had the hot rock for the appetizer. It consisted of strips of tenderloin and gulf shrimp seared over a very hot rock (hence the name!). The tenderloin was lovely and juicy, the shrimp were wonderful.

The entrees selection was very diverse. This restaurant is not for the faint of heart. The highlights of the menu were Bison Ribeye, Artic Char, Veal Osso Bucco, Game Hen, and Wild Boar. My fiance thought he was in heaven. I thought for sure he would be all over the blackened Bison Ribeye with huckleberry glaze (he has never met a steak he didn't like), but he went with the Game Hen in a cranberry glaze and apple stuffing. I decided on the ribeye for my entree. Having had bison before, I was curious to see how they would prepare it to make it "less gamey". I am happy to report that not only was the steak cooked to perfection, it was tender and juicy as well. The huckleberry glaze did nothing for me and personally, I would not have missed it. My fiance was extremely pleased with his hen, and has decided that adding apples to the stuffing this Thanksgiving is a terrific idea.

Be warned: the sides at Solas are not part of the entree; howevers the waiters make it seem like they are when you order. Also, when we asked the waiter if the sides were big enough to share, he stated that they were individually portioned. Now, I'm not exactly sure how much our waiter eats on a regular basis, but the two sides we ordered with our meal were more than enough for both of us! We had the sauteed spinach with garlic and the sugar snap peas with macadamian nuts. The sugar snap peas were tasty; however, unless you are warding off vampires (or your date), I would recommend staying clear of the spinach. The garlic was so overpowering I thought I was eating a bowl of garlic cloves instead of spinach.

The wine list is not the most impressive I've seen, but they do have a decent selection. The wines by the glass however, is limited. I had a glass of the Trinity Oaks Pinot Noir with my meal. Overall not a bad pinot, but not a great one either. For $8/glass, I've certainly had better in other restaurants.

For dessert, we ordered the flourless Chocolate Torte. For true chocolate lovers, this is right up your ally. Now I like my chocolate as much as the next girl, but even this was a little much. Death by chocolate is how I would describe it. I think my fiance & I were on a sugar rush by the time we reached the end.

Overall, I found the food enticing, but the music was very distracting and did not create an enjoyable dining experience. I would have to give Solas a B-.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

My First Blog!

My Fiance (soon to be husband) & I are big time foodies! We love all different types of food and are pretty adventurous. We love to cook, but we love to eat out more! So I dedicate my little blog to our tasty food travels.

First up: Solas in Downtown Raleigh! Review to come soon!