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Monday, July 17, 2017

Emmy Squared

A few Saturdays ago the family found itself without any activities and nowhere to be. So, in that case, what do we do but ... eat!

I'd wanted to visit Emmy Squared as we're semi-regular at Emily's. So answer to the obvious: I prefer the pizza at Emily's to Emmy Squared. I appreciate the Detroit-style but prefer a thin-crust made with a live-fire.

With that said, the pizza is delicious and the service, like at Emily's is poor. We ordered 5 pizzas for 5 people that they squeezed into a 4-top. We don't mind the seating. But we did mind that all pizzas arrived at once. I don't believe the wait staff needs a "bring them in sequence" to understand that if you drop five pizzas at once, the fifth pie will be cold by the time people even get to a single slice. It's a pretty straightforward service aspect and one that they missed here. Aggravating. With that in mind, I enjoyed the Colony-squared most (it was my second pizza slice so still pretty hot) as the kitchen puts just enough honey to balance the chilies and pepperoni in a trio of sweet, sour and spicy.

The Progress

In early June, I ate a decidedly delicious and relatively straightforward meal at The Progress. The conceit is beautiful: choose 4 items and pay a single per-person price. Unlike a fixed menu, you have choice and the dining experience is communal.

All the dishes were top-drawer so nothing to really critique. The kitchen did enough to provide contrasting flavors via sauces yet let each dish's ingredients shine through. And the service was knowledgeable and fully capable.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Izakaya Rintaro

Last month, I ate dinner an early dinner at Rintaro. I scheduled a 6pm dinner for 1 and asked to sit adjacent to the pass so I could watch the chef de cuisine (CDC) and kitchen staff (it's an open kitchen). Both the food and experience were fantastic.

Food: I ordered the fresh tofu (yosedofu), chicken katsu (chiizu tori katsu), and a few yakitori. I appreciated Rintaro's focus on fresh, high-quality ingredients with very little seasoning and flavor enhancers. For instance, katsu can often include significant salt, togarashi, and other things in the coating. This was the opposite; a very clean crisp coating surrounding very flavorful chicken with a strange and wonderful cheese additional within the chicken. The heart and chicken oyster were especially delicious yakitoris.

Experience: This was a lot of fun for me because I could sit and what the CDC work with the staff and observe how she plated different dishes. And as a bonus, by 6:30 the GM and CDC were having a very real argument about pacing for two or three larger parties seating in the lovely front patio.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Pines

I was fortunate to get out for a meal and drinks at The Pines late last month with a highly knowledgeable technician of the capital markets. Besides picking his brain for 3 hours on how markets really work and what will occur in the upcoming years, we enjoyed a very creative meal with attentive service in an oddly casual (if uncomfortable) setting.

We started with thoughtful cocktails. I had a "Legends of the Fall" which combines rye with Prosecco and apple cider to give the whole drink a bourbon barrel-aged sour beer taste. I don't think that beer style exists (yet) so ... congrats! The technician had a few of "The Pines" which is a resiny Manhattan. 

For food, we enjoyed the ricotta, bread and chive oil immensely. It's a really simple idea and one I could easily lay out at home. And I will starting this weekend! Even if I don't bake the bread and serve a Bien Cuit (and upgrade from Runner and Stone in my eyes), this will be devoured by the monsters. The chive oil was perfectly piquant and a nice foil to the ricotta.

We shared four different vegetable dishes. The highlight was a brilliantly executed romesco to accompany the ubiquitous shishito peppers. Our waitress was taken aback with our reluctance to order the peppers. She persisted and I'm happy she did so. The other veg were nice if not transformational.

 What was? Well the venison! It may have been the single-most complicated dish I've had in 2017 as I chatted with the sole cook (chef?) before leaving. It was marinated, cooked sous vide, grilled, marinated again and something else. I'll remind myself to order the meat dishes next time I go.

Onto comfort. This was a Tuesday night and noise wasn't an issue. The tables, chairs and placement were. These were folding chairs surrounding a table that did not seem up to the task of holding our food and Croatian wine.

[18 months ago, this is what Pete Wells had to write.]

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Hao Noodles and Tea by Madam Zhu

First thing to know; do not visit their Web site (link though it'll load for minutes). But do visit this restaurant. The restaurant is airy, delicately decorated and though new, feels nicely worn in. The menu is fun to read (tip of the hat to "Make Winter Great Again") and all dishes are delicious.

One Saturday late last month, our family went for lunch. Every dish was recognizable to us. And each dish was better than we've had elsewhere. The lion's head meatballs were more delicate and flavorful than I've had before. The soup dumplings had incredibly thin skins, the most lightly flavorful broth, with high-quality pork. Spicy chic pea noodle soup (豌杂面) was unlike anything I've tasted. It had that ma la Sichuan flavor with a sort of Tuscan homeliness. Even the fried rice was excellent; each component separately fried to 90% completion before all being combined quickly My favorite dish was the spicy marinated pork trotters. When you order this dish in a Chinatown restaurant, the pork comes on in a gelatinous mess with non-uniform pieces and no real taste of the dry-fried chilies. This is a wholly different experience. SoS felt assaulted by the minuscule portion. I thought it was not filling but still a great value for that quality.

That's not to say Hao Noodles and Tea doesn't have it's problems. Or rather singular problem: service. The five of us were seated like the path a knight takes on a chessboard. It was the most awkward seating we've ever had. Our amicable server didn't know much about the food and even less about the teas. Tea is in the restaurant's name and the two wait staff I inquired with just re-read the descriptions.

If you're in a group of six with an interest in really exceptional Chinese food, family-style, I'd highly recommend Hao Noodles and Tea. Just like Pete Wells.