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Devour Downtown Starts Today!

8 Aug

Last time Devour Downtown came around, I posted that while I appreciate the prices, it isn’t my favorite way to enjoy a restaurant.  That being said, there are some restaurants who really do Devour well, with great menus and great service that is too good to pass up.  In general, I think the steakhouses do a great job.  Fogo de Chao offers the full experience (including dessert!) for $30 which is a steal.  And I have had great experiences at both St. Elmo and The Capital Grille during Devour Downtown.

This time I’m looking forward to trying Sensu and Turner’s.  How about you?  What do you think about Devour Downtown–love it or leave it?  What restaurants do it well?


Artistic Fare Oakley’s Bistro

1 Aug

Oakley's Bistro Suckling Pig Starter

Oakley’s Bistro is the restaurant equivalent to a trophy wife–so beautiful you believe it’s worth every penny.  The dining room has a french country feel and the food presentation is beyond artistic–it’s stunning.  You really can’t help but “ohhh and ahhh” over the plates as they come out.  But the over-the-top presentation and menu prices caused me to have very high expectations.  While the food and overall dining experience was good, I left feeling disappointed. Continue reading

Appetizers at Harry & Izzy’s

9 Jun

I met some friends recently for a late dinner at Harry & Izzy’s.  We decided to do appetizers and salads as no one was in the mood for a big meal.  So I guess I’ll have to go back sometime for a more complete review!

Harry & Izzy's Shrimp Cocktail

Although I had never been to Harry & Izzy’s, I had an idea I would like it.  It’s owned by the same people who own St. Elmo Steakhouse and I’ve always been a big St. Elmo fan.  Harry & Izzy’s has the same classy feel as St. Elmo, yet is more comfortable and relaxed.  They also feature the famous St. Elmo shrimp cocktail: jumbo shrimp with a blow-your-head-off, painfully delicious sauce.  This really brings meaning to “hurts so good”. Continue reading

Fine Dining at 14 West

14 Mar

14 West Lobster Rabini

They say good things come in small packages, and at 14 West fine dining comes in a small, intimate setting.  Chef Tracy Lemmonds presents beautiful, well-crafted dishes, while the elegant atmosphere and service round out the dining experience.

Sesame Crusted Ahi

From the appetizer menu, my table enjoyed Sesame Crusted Ahi, Tempura Battered Calamari, and Lobster Mac-n-Cheese–three distinctly different dishes that represent the somewhat eclectic menu.  The rare Ahi was complemented by a wonderful combination of flavors and textures–spicy, sweet and salty flavors of mango, wasabi and soy glaze with the crunch of sesame seeds and tender, toothsome soba noodles.  Yet despite all the flavors and textures, the steak-like rare Ahi was still the star.

Without question, the calamari was the best I’ve had in recent memory.  Too often, calamari is overcooked, giving it a rubbery texture.  But this was tender, and I liked the combination of the asian-style tempura batter with the tangy apricot chipotle sauce.

Tempura Battered Calamari

The Lobster Mac was everything macaroni and cheese should be.  Think rich, creamy and decadent, then add perfectly cooked lobster claws.  And just try to save room for the rest of your meal!

From the second course offerings we chose the Iceberg Wedge Salad and New England Clam Chowder.  The wedge salad was more flavorful than most, with a Maytag bleu cheese dressing that had an assertive dill flavor and a garnish of chopped red onions.  Personally, I loved the combination, but some at my table thought it was a bit much.  We could all agree, however, that the chowder was excellent.  The texture was just slightly less thick than traditional clam chowder, but no less creamy, and it had a wonderful smokey bacon flavor that while noticeable, did not overpower the sweetness of the crab.

Lobster Rabini

When the Lobster Rabini entree arrived at the table, I was worried that the flavor would not stand up to the magnificent (although phallic) presentation.  I had nothing to worry about.  Tender lobster tail, jumbo shrimp, sherry caper sauce.  What’s not to like?  Nothing.  It was perfection.

And although the presentation of the Lamb Shank (locally grown at Viking Farms) was less elegant, it was no less impressive.  There’s something about a huge plate of bone-in meat that just makes you want to put your face in it.  But I managed to show some restraint and use my fork (no knife necessary, this was fall-off-the-bone tender).  The lamb is accompanied with a corn risotto that really works with the strong wine and lamb flavors.

Viking Farms Lamb Shank

The Chilean Sea Bass was the only disappointment of the evening.  Although the menu says “seared” it was battered and fried.  What a terrible way to treat such a lovely fish!  It tasted fine, but sea bass should never be “just fine”.  I did enjoy the complexity of the red wine risotto that it was served atop, however it was slightly undercooked.  Another minute or so in the pan would have created risotto perfection.

Chilean Sea Bass

Of course no meal is complete without dessert.  If you read my earlier post about Tavern on South, you know that I have very high standards when it comes to sweets.  14 West did not disappoint.  The carrot cake with Grand Marnier frosting is quite simply the best carrot cake I’ve ever had.  I would challenge even carrot-cake haters to find fault with it.

Grand Marnier Carrot Cake

The creme brulee was traditionally prepared and had the perfect not too thin, not too thick texture.  And our server even noted that it was my birthday and dressed the plate accordingly.

Creme Brulee

For superior service, great ambiance and impressive food, I give 14 West on overall rating of 3.0.  Here’s the breakdown:

Price = $$$

Deliciousness = 3 (Excellent)

Ambiance = 3 (A Feast for the eyes)

Service =4 (Staff is proficient in fine dining service)

Bang for Your Buck = 2 (Overall experience justifies the price)

Overall Dining Experience = 3.0 (Excellent/Superior)

Click here for an explanation of my Restaurant Rating System.
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