October 22, 2008

Date Night

The husband got his parents to come over and babysit last night, so we could have a "date night". We ate dinner out and went to a movie. The movie was good. The dinner was not good. We had heard about this (icky) restaurant from several of our friends, saying it was a really great place to go. Let me tell you...it wasn't. I am not sure if we ordered the wrong thing(s) or what, but it was BAD! Terrible, in fact. One of the worst restaurant meals that I have ever had, in my life. Yeah, I am not kidding...it was awful. The only thing that could have made it worse was if I found a roach in my food!
If you are curious to know the name of the place...just ask me...I will gladly give you the details. I hesitate to name it and trash it on my blog. Since I am going to trash it...I can at least be nice enough not to expose the name of the place in writing. There were only four people in the whole joint when we were there, as it was...this place needs all the help it can get. Seriously...it was that bad. The funny thing is that this restaurant is a family-owned business that has been in that location for quite awhile. I don't know how they get any repeat business! Let's go over the horror blow by blow, shall we??? Okay...here it goes:

Their main claim to fame is gourmet pizza (which we did not have) but did not seem all that special from the menu. The choices for their pizzas were unimpressive, at best. I could make all of their pizza choices at home without breaking a sweat. Since I could not see actually paying money for the pizzas (which were over-priced and comprised mostly of toppings from Costco), we decided to go with an appetizer, pasta, and an entree instead (which were even more over-priced).
Both of our dinner choices should have been solid, no-brainers(albeit way, way over-priced). We ordered a chicken dish and pasta dish. I mean really...it is very hard to screw up chicken and pasta. Oh, but they managed to screw up both!
The appetizer was one of their daily "specials", so I was expecting fresh seasonal ingredients (as touted by the host when we sat down) and for it to be edible. It wasn't. I even questioned the waitress before we ordered about the "daily special" appetizer. She did not know anything and had to go and ask the "chef" (I use that term loosely)the details about the dish. She came back with some acceptable info, so I took a gamble and ordered the appetizer. I shouldn't have...it was probably the worst thing we ate all night. Everything that was on the appetizer was awful. The dish itself was supposed to be bruschetta with black truffle cheese and fresh porcini mushrooms. The cheese was frozen and grainy with powder seasoning mixed in (black truffle powder and garlic powder) and the "fresh" porcini mushrooms were not porcinis' at all, but instead slimy, cold, beige, regular button mushrooms, from a can then refrigerated...not even drained or rinsed of the can oil.
I can literally reconstruct how the dish was put together by the taste of it. First the "chef" toasted the bread to give it the illusion of freshness and warmth. Then, he took his grainy frozen cheese out and tried to spread it on the bread. It partially thawed because of the bread warmth. He dusted it with the different powders. Then he went to the fridge and got his canned, packed in oil, mushrooms and scooped them onto top of the cheese layer. A sprinkle of garnish...and...voila...crap! The only "fresh" element was the sprinkling of chopped fresh parsley around the rim of the dish for garnish. It reminded me of someone putting lipstick on a pig.

Whoever writes the menu knows a lot of cooking terms and fancies themselves quite the foodie. They put the correct words and descriptions on the menu. Then, when you order the food you realize they have no idea what they are doing in the kitchen. Also, there was no salt and pepper out on the tables. This seems like a minor detail, but really it is bold and cocky statement. I noticed it when we sat down and I was actually excited and hopeful about this little fact. When there isn't any salt and pepper offered at at restaurant the "chef" is telling you that you will not need them. It says, the "chef" knows that the food should be properly seasoned when it is cooked, and you will not have to worry about extra salt/pepper after the meal is served to you. It is a bold gesture to tell you that you are in good hands. Well, it was offensive to realize that whoever was cooking and serving the food took all their customers to be morons. I think they put on a good show, but really considered their patrons to be idiots. Their whole business revolves around the fact that they are counting on their customers not to know that they are being cheated with crappy quality food. The right menu description is designed to distract you from the fact that they are charging you way too much money for sub-par food.
Most of the ingredients that we had on our entree, pasta dish, and appetizer were straight from a can and/or jar. I know that they were straight from a can because of the texture,flavor and the ever-present hint of a 'metallic tinge' permeating every item. Gross is the only accurate way to describe ALL of our meal items. Canned ingredients are very easily spotted...especially when you are promised fresh, and understand the difference between the two.

Next, the "chicken breast"(that was over-priced) was partially cooked the day before and then re-heated in a microwave. How do I know this? Again, it had the flavor, texture, and hot and cold spots that only a microwave can produce.Rubbery and stringy all at the same time...yum! They didn't even try to disguise the fact that it was previously cooked by trying to reheat it in an oven!
Also, the "chicken breast" that was promised, was not a "chicken breast" at all. It was the breast of a Cornish game hen, which is about half the size of a chicken or smaller. How do I know this? Well, the "chef" left it bone-in with part of the wing attached. It was way to small to be a chicken (unless it was some sort of freak of science type of dwarf chicken). It was a game hen. WHAT A RIP OFF! Not only did the food suck, the "chef" literally is trying to cheat the customers by cutting back on food costs and calling something one thing when really it was something else entirely. Then, charging $18 for it! I am not kidding...$18 for a partially-cooked-then-microwaved Cornish game hen breast. The "crust" on the chicken was unpalatably salty and not crusty at all...just coagulated paste.
The side items were also a joke. Over cooked orzo with vegetables that were from a can, partially cooked and then put on a sheet pan to "roast" before the meal was served. Again, how do I know this? By the black spots on the way too gummy and out of season vegetables. Blaeech. I switched plates with my husband because I could not choke my food down.
There really was not one dish that stood out as "good". The husband's pasta dish was, for the most part, edible...which I cannot say about my entree. That is the most positive compliment that I can muster about our food. I at least had a few bites of his meal without incident. By no means was it good. Olive Garden would have been a blessing. I don't even have the energy to go into all the details about why his pasta dish was bad. Just trust me when I say it could not even be described as mediocre, at best. "Sucky"...that sounds about right.

To be fair...the husband has a strong stomach and is not a picky as I am about food. I can be overly critical sometimes. Yeah...not the case here! I assure you that this experience was not about just me being a food snob. The husband hated it too...and he is usually pretty forgiving. He literally gagged when he was three bites into the appetizer. Gagged!!!! He had to stop eating so he would not get sick at the table.

We suffered through the rest of our dinner and then promptly left. Needless to say, we will not be going back to that establishment ever again. I am just glad that we did not get food poisoning.

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