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Thursday, December 14, 2006

For the 0.00583 Percent of the World’s Population Who Might Benefit from this Information

Last weekend, events manifested themselves in such a way that we ended up going out to dinner (at NICE restaurants) four nights in a row. And, never one to turn down an opportunity to do some side-by-side comparisons, I vowed to do reviews of the four restaurants. (While I was coming up with a rating system and asking Michelle what she thought of the first dinner, she was all, “You’re not going to blog about this, are you? Why don’t you write something real and post THAT?” Although, later, she became more interested in the idea, chiming in more as things went interestingly downhill.)

Of course, we’re not comparing apples to apples. Each dinner featured a wildly different setting (context) and dinner-mates. But, as we’d been to almost all of the restaurants on prior occasions, we have history, yes? So, let’s begin.

FRIDAY
(a family dinner with Mia)
Bonefish Grill

This was the only “chain” restaurant we visited over the weekend. It helped in our decision-making that we had gift cards to spend, although we’d been curious about the place since it opened here a couple years ago.

The restaurant was intimately dim, with a separate “bar” area. There was a nice mix of couples, families, and XYZers. We found the menu to be quite diverse and user-friendly, and it had multiple kids’ choices. We had a seared ahi tuna “sashimi” appetizer (double for $15). For dinner, Michelle went with a pistachio/trout thing that she seemed to enjoy, while I chose a “pan-asian style” shrimp and scallop combo. All in all, the food was pretty good.

The service would have been close to best-ever status, but the very cordial waitress was overly generous with “yes, sir” and “yes, ma’am” and “of course, sir.” Off-putting, a little. And, like everyone else in this town, she seemed familiar, so it was that much MORE strange.

Atmosphere: 8.5
Menu: 8.5
Service: 9
Food: 8
Overall: 8.5

SATURDAY
(company banquet dinner)
Albert’s Provence

Michelle’s office alternates between Albert’s (the French pronunciation) and Georgio’s for their Holiday banquets. Usually, it’s more than 30 people drinking heavily and making lots of noise. Sometimes, things are thrown. And, sometimes, people have to be carried out. To avoid being a vomit casualty (coughcoughagain), I vowed to stick with beer.

Albert’s is a pretty nice restaurant, with a regular and seemingly older clientele. The décor is not showy and the lighting isn’t particularly creative. Basically, it’s a serviceable environment to take in a solid gourmet meal.

We were working from a reduced menu, although I know they specialize in Continental Euro fare. Michelle went with the sirloin, while I chose the crab-stuffed . . . grouper? And, as with any “gourmet” dinner, I was scraping every molecule of food off my plate. (Except for the disgusting asparagus, which I pawned off on Michelle. I traded some grouper for sirloin. AND her office manager gave me some of HIS sirloin. So, I was rockin’ the mostly full stomach.) For dessert, I chose the “crème caramel” (flan), while Michelle got the mousse. I have a texture problem (tapioca will literally make me throw up in my mouth), so we ended up swapping . . . even though since a food-poisoning incident in high school French class, I’ve avoided eating much mousse (and French food in general).

The service was pretty good, especially considering the drunken crowd.

Atmosphere: 7
Menu: n/a
Service: 8
Food: 7.5
Overall: 7.5

SUNDAY
(group dinner with friends for Michelle’s birthday)
Food Glorious Food

Michelle and her friends are big supporters of FGF, while I find it to be overly pricey and pretentious in a “too-cool-for-skool” indie way. Which is, eh, whatever. Fine. Plus, the two or three previous times I’d been there, I had a hard time finding something I really wanted to eat. So, I either end up settling or, with my love for variety, I do the “appetizer dinner” thing (stay tuned for the latter).

Anyway, the “downstairs” dining area at FGF is “decorated” in a Spartan way, with bare concrete floors and just . . . open space. Again, fine. Look, I’m not TOTALLY trying to come off like I had a pre-conceived notion of how things were gonna go; I HAVE been surprised before when my expectations were set on the low side. Just not this time.

Sure, everyone else was really excited about their food, and I probably shouldn’t have ordered jerked chicken with black beans and rice. But, really, nothing else looked that interesting to me. The bigger crime was their signature “maison” (house) salad came without the promised apple (it makes a difference, but Mr. Glory Hole says this is a “service problem”). In general the service was (otherwise) okay.

When I expressed to Michelle it’d be a while before I’d want to go back to FGF, she didn’t quite understand what my problem was. Thus, my scores reflect everyone else’s enthusiasm.

Atmosphere: 7
Menu: 6
Service: 7
Food: 7
Overall: 7

MONDAY
(birthday dinner; just the two of us)
Kool Beanz

Another trendy restaurant where “unpretentious” equals hipster pretension. The wait staff is decidedly dressed down, as are the patrons. The atmosphere is loud. The building is a former diner. The menu reportedly changes daily and features lots of interesting fusion-esque choices. Not cheaply, either.

As was the recent pattern, nothing was striking our fancy on the menu. We settled on a great hummus appetizer to go with our house salads (also good). I think it was all downhill from there.

An obnoxious and loud group was seated next to us (“Can you believe that 55 percent of Americans have NO SAVINGS AT ALL?”). The service was very cordial (good waitress), but food preparation is always SLLLOOOOOOOOOW. My (three) appetizer dinner was staggered out over the course of about 30 minutes, and two of them were somewhat overcooked (black bean cakes and dumplings).

Overall, we were there for a couple hours. We probably saved ourselves 10 or 15 minutes by ordering dessert to go AND asking for the check while the last of my appetizers was being served.

Atmosphere: 7
Menu: 7
Service: 7
Food: 6
Overall: 7

shaken and poured by Scott-san on 12/14 at 12:58 PM
(4) Comments closedPermalink

Listening

There's no "I" in threesome.

Viewing

I can't remember whether I've seen anything new since my birthday. Oh, right, that one.

Reading

I was hoping for a little more detail in the accounts of mauling-by-zombie. But the anecdotes were disturbing, nonetheless..

Drinking

I don't have a solid grasp on which exact cheap beers I had at the ATL watering holes.