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Monday, May 4, 2009

Date Night

It seems that ever since the reality shows such as Hell's Kitchen and Tabitha's Salon Takeover have come out, I cannot eat or go to a hairdresser without being super-critical of the process. Every resturant I go to is now scrutinized on every level by my family and myself. I have found that this examination has even transformed the way I cook a meal, I am more aware of flavors and ingredients than ever before. I even changed hairdressers because I decided that I deserved better than the service I was getting at the local Haircuttery. It is worth that extra $7 to be treated well and to feel as if my business is appreciated.

Last Saturday was Date Night for my husband and I. It was funny because we spent a decent portion of the meal being amatuer resturant critics. As far as I am concerned, anyone can be a critic as long as they know what critiera they are looking for.

As we walked from the parking lot to Filomena's resturant in Berlin, the Saturday night DJ's music was blaring. We almost decided to leave at that point because no one enjoys loud music when they are trying to eat. Since it was already 9pm, we decided that it might be too late to get a table at other nearby resturants, so we proceeded into the establishment.

I always thought that the bar area at Filomena's  should be walled off from the resturant so the loud music doesn't penetrate into the dining area. The open kitchen already provides enough noise in there, and having all the music and shouting  from the bar is just too much. While there is a beautiful decorative wall, it is by means menas any kind of a sound barrier. Since they serve dinner until 11pm on Saturday's, I think they should either truly seperate the two areas or not blast the music until the diners are on their way out the door. There was the added annoyance of hearing two types of music at once, the dining room and the bar music were competing over our heads.

The resturant was freezing and I actually had to put my jacket on to eat. As this was the fourth time I had eaten there in ten years, I knew that it was always cold, so I was glad I brought my coat. We looked at the extensive wine list, which included five special choices that explained what kind of food they went with, the bouquet and other information about the selected wines. I ordered the house Pino Noir, but I would not recommend it. The waitress did not even know it was on the menu or what brand it was. That should have been my first clue. The Corona my husband ordered came with a nice frosty glass. The bread the server brought to the table consisted of 4 puffy sicilian- type squares that were topped with spices and sundried tomatoes. It was accompianied by seasoned olive oil and fresh roasted garlic cloves. I could have eaten it all night, thank God they didn't bring more.

The specials sounded delicious, but we ordered off of the menu. My husband decided to try to Risotto Pescatore and I chose the Veal Elaina. We decided to forgo appetizers since it was so late. When the waitress acknowewledged to my husband that the dinner included salad I almost asked for the dressing on the side. I didn't want to be a pain, so I kept mum. Big mistake. The salad was fresh and crunchy and literally drowning in a a very vinegary dressing. I couldn't eat more than one bite. My husband ate some of mine because he didn't want to offend the waitress, I think he is a way better person than I.
While we were waiting for our entree, the waiter who was handling another table took a cell phone call right on the floor in front of us. I did not know that dining manners had slipped so far that this was now acceptable. He proceeded to give out directions to his friend right there next to our table. After listening to him repeat himself three times, I just wanted to grab the stupid phone and tell his friend to clean the potatoes out of his ear.
The experience was bizarre. In fact, the servers seemed the think that it was acceptable to hang out near our table and chat since their computer was right there. It was quite distracting and took away from the beautiful atmosphere. When someone is paying $22 and up per entree, they do not expect to be treated as if they are sitting in a McDonalds. It would also have been nice to have been offered the fresh pepper instead of having to request it. The pepper mill was literally three feet away from our table.

Our entrees arrived and they were delicious. I tasted the risotto right away and found it very creamy and just the right texture. Unfortunately it had a strong shrimp taste since the resutrant had run out of scallops. Since the resturant was so cold, it only tasted good for the first five minutes, after that, it was too cold and started to get hard and congeal. The Veal Elaina was perfect, the cappelini was cooked just right, the crab was fresh, the sundried tomatoes were tender and the artichoke hearts were tasty and just the right consistancy. I heartily recommend this dish. You will love it.

For dessert we shared a creme brulee, this is one of the reasons we chose this resturant, it is their best dessert. I remember when we chose this restaurant for our 5th anniversary dinner and we asked for a Creme Brulee to go. The waiter had to give it to us in the decorative china cup so we could bring it to my baby-sitting sister. Yes, we did eventually return the cup, I think...the rest of the desserts lack imagination and are not worth the cost. I ordered a coffee and a shot of Bailey's Irish Creme. I was treated to a very generous helping of this liqueur in a nifty little glass and couldn't finish it. What a shame.

I never did check the restroom out, the restaurant was too cold to contemplate disrobing in any way.

Will I come back here to eat? Probably, since they are close by, but I will also be sending a "review" to them. I know this is the only way they will ever get better. I only hope that as I serve dinner to my family each night that they are not going to order me out of my own kitchen like Chef Ramsey. I could not hope to meet the standards I am setting for everyone else. But maybe these reality shows will raise everyone standards just a bit and make people proud of the cuisine they offer and the services they perform...
I apologize for spelling errors, I think I need glasses.


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