Monday, May 24, 2010

Rumblings #2: The Last Supper (at Blueacre anyway)

Blueacre: What better way to experience a new restaurant than to get a three course meal from a fixed sampler menu during restaurant week with three of your best friends? There is none! This is going to be so much fun!

That's what we thought.

We should have prepared for a marathon of a dining experience with unforeseen hurdles in the way. And they should have clarified for us that the planned running course would be more than 26 miles and 385 yards and may be altered towards the finish. I hate distance running.

We arrived promptly according to our reservations and the hostess was a bit flighty - she didn't seem to know how to handle people who actually had reservations and what to do when there seemingly weren't any tables available so she ran off with barely an excuse to fetch a manager. A manager came back and warmly greeted us, explained that they were running behind and that the wait wouldn't be long and handed us drink and food menus to peruse. After 15 minutes of waiting or so, the manager returned and apologized for the wait again, explained that it would take more time than expected and offered to buy us drinks for our wait. None of us had been expecting to drink much that evening but we happily ordered a few cocktails since they were offered. A few minutes later, we were seated and the manager let us know that those drinks would be sent to our table.

The drinks came 15 minutes after we had been seated which at this point was now probably 25 minutes since they had been ordered; this set the tone for the rest of the evening which became a marathon at a snail's pace.
We had ordered our first and second courses and the service was pleasant and jovial. We munched on some good bread and the boys ordered another round of beers. Closing in at 8pm, after a few rounds of drinks with nothing to eat but bread, we asked for more bread. And more bread. The server grew a little nervous and assured us that food was on its way.

The Good:
For the first course, three of us ordered a salmon collar with green papaya salad which is a Vietnamese staple. It was served with a ginger sauce and we were provided chopsticks. Granted, if you are not used to eating salmon collar and eating with chopsticks, this course may not be for you, even with a fork since it became rather messy and hard to ascertain the meaty parts.

Still the flavors were Asian inspired, well seasoned and well cooked. The dish was ballsy: fun and unrefined, familiar and yet unexpected so we enjoyed it immensely. Well, three of us anyways. One of us (Beth) had ordered a bisque which is basically soup so you would think that spooning up a bowl of creamy soup and garnishing wouldn't take very long. However, this soup didn't arrive for our poor hungry friend to eat until two of the boys had finished their salmon and I was determinedly foraging for the last little bits of fish.
The Bad:
Waiting for the second course was agonizing and it was as if the Jeopardy song was playing in our heads. We had more drinks and grew restless. We clapped when the dishes finally came and took pictures. When I looked at my piece of halibut (which must have been the fish of restaurant week), I already knew something was wrong. Beth took a bite first and immediately set her fork down, bringing her hand to her mouth with a surprised little gasp.

"What?" I asked incredulously, "Is it overcooked?" I didn't even allow her to answer and took my own bite. Halibut is a wonderful versatile, firm, mild-flavored piece of fish that in my humble opinion, should melt like butter and flake in big chunks when cut into. It should not resemble the texture of overdone dorm chicken strips but alas! The fish gods or the deadliest catch dude or whomever I should have sacrificed a goat to did not will it so! The halibut was like an overdone stringy, dry piece of chicken. We asked the boys if their chicken was ok and they said it was good and piping hot. We surmised that our fish was overdone to begin with but poor expediting or management in the back of the house left that halibut to bake under a heating lamp while the chicken was being cooked.
The Ugly:

Wait- there's more? There is ugly? How can a few ruined halibut steaks be less worse than something? The last leg of our marathon dining experience became a confusing and irritating mess.

The server returned with the menus for dessert so we could assess our choices: whoopie pie, angel food cake and ice cream/sorbet. A few moments later he returned to let us know that two of the three options were now no longer available and so we could order any dessert on the menu to substibute instead. He had jetted before we could ask which of the options were now sold out but we assumed that it was the pie and the cake that had sold out since economics would dictate that restaurants rarely sell out of the least involved and expensive choice (ice cream). I settled on the lemon meringue pie since it sounded gorgeous. The waiter came back and apologized again stating that there was a communication error and all of the desserts were actually available but mentioned that they would honor any dessert we ordered as part of the selection due to the confusion. I asked the waiter what his favorite dessert was and without hesitation, he answered that the lemon meringue pie was amazing. "Then I'll take it!" I exclaimed. Beth ordered the rhubarb angel food cake and the boys got the whoopie pie.

A few minutes later, a different server came by and asked who ordered the lemon meringue pie. I nervously raised my hand and rolled my eyes. "I'm sorry," the server said, "But unfortunately Tom Douglas is dining with us tonight in the back there and he just ordered lemon meringue pies as well so we're going to give him the last two pieces. I'm sorry but you'll have to order something else." WHAT? You gave Tom Douglas my freaking pie? The one I had my heart set on? The one I would not have even wanted had you not had a communication error to begin with? I scoured the menu but nothing sounded good. Both servers returned to look at me with pity and shake their heads as I stared and stared at the godforsaken menu. I asked them what they would recommend.

"Oh the lemon meringue pie is my favorite. It is so good, " they both agreed. AGHHHHHHHHHHHH! ASDFJKL:!!!!! DON'T MAKE ME ANGRY!

"I mean, one that isn't the one that you gave to Tom Douglas! What else is good? Nothing else is calling to me!" I exclaimed exasperatedly. They thought for a while and the pause was disconcerting. I started to walk through the rest of the options one by one - going over the whoopie pie (eh, not that great) and the other options when finally one of them says, "Well the chocolate pudding is good. But you know, it's pudding." With a little shrug at the end.

The rhubarb angel food cake was good except that the sauce looked like something had melted on the plate in a not-so-attractive manner. And my chocolate pudding really was good although not exactly novel.

Now the funniest part and the real 'ugly' was the boys' dessert order. Take note of the description:

Chocolate cake, chocolate cream filling and coco jacks. What are coco jacks? Apparently the pastry chef is cuckoo for Coco Puffs because that's what they were. An older gentleman at a table next to ours sent his dessert back perhaps because he wasn't amused with children's cereal and chocolate cream smeared on his plate. Either that or he assumed that the kitchen had some sort of rodent issue since the coco jacks resembled rabbit or rat turds.

Was this a joke or did the genius pastry chef think that this was actually clever and delicious? Nevertheless the whoopie pie did not live up to its description as chocolate cake with cream filling but two flat-tasting chocolate cookies with chocolate cream, sprinkled with rat droppings, ahem cereal.

By the time we had finished dinner, it was after 10pm; it was now over three hours after we had arrived and we were utterly unsatisfied. At last we had a nice laugh over the whoopie pie turds. I had an itch to hit up a Tom Douglas restaurant later that evening. That dude owes me a decent dessert.

No comments:

Post a Comment