March 18, 2010

Dewey's in Newport - 3 Turkeys

Just went out for date night to Dewey's Pizza at Newport on the Levee before finally seeing Avatar.  We grabbed a couple chairs at the bar and were immediately greeted by the bartender.  Upon seeing how indecisive I was he offered me 4 generous tastes of beers.  I opted for one from Missouri (Schlafly) which was a fairly hearty amber beer.  My better half chose the Brooklyn IPA which wasn't as hoppy as he was expecting but nevertheless refreshing.

For starters we had the Harvest Salad which has to be one of my all time favorite salads...this coming from someone who doesn't really like salads even!  It's a spring mix tossed with figs, goat cheese, pumpkin seeds and bacon.  I usually get the dressing on the side just to avoid soaking the leaves too much - it is served with a tangy Apple Cider Dressing.  Part of the reason we came to Dewey's was because we were looking for a filling, no meat option in observation of Lent.  Well, I totally forgot that bacon toppings on a salad counted too!  Now I'm not Catholic and really only observe Lent to support my husband (and to take advantage of the McDonald's 2 fish filets for $3.33 deal...who wouldn't?).  Needless to say, the salad was covered in bacon crumbles and I started playing a game with myself to find all the bacon in my husband's half. I started to get a little overly excited when another overturned leaf would reveal yet another itsy bitsy bacon crumb.  I'm sure it also looked odd a grown woman rummaging through the salad on her husband's plate picking bacon bits up with her finger?  What can I say?  I love my bacon!  I just couldn't let it go to waste!

The pizza came out fairly quickly.  We got a 13" split between the Billy Goat and the Caprice.  I would never get the Caprice again - it read on paper that it'd be a pretty standard tomato, cheese pizza but the tomatoes were a bit pinkish (definitely not fresh from the garden) and it's served with their white sauce which really leaves the pizza lacking a significant amount of flavor.  The Billy Goat side though was delicious if you love goat cheese the way we do.  It was topped with goat cheese, green peppers, tomatoes which even seemed redder than their brethren on the other half of our pizza.  Again, this pizza was served with the white sauce but there was plenty of flavor to be had on this half.   The crust is a bit undercooked but I don't mind - I actually end up eating the crust here which I never do...not even on my PB&J sandwiches.  If you are looking for a crispy crust then go to Donatos because you won't find that here.

The location couldn't be more convenient for a night out - it's right in the mall at Newport on the Levee across from Bar Louie.  If the pizza didn't fill you up head over there for the best Tots around.  Yes I am a grown woman who loves her tater tots :)

Score: 32 points
Ambiance (3), Tastiness of Dishes (6), Menu (4), Drink Selection (4), Cost (5), Accessibility (3), Service (4), Location (4)

Dewey's Pizza (Newport) on Urbanspoon

Montgomery Inn - 3 Turkeys

We finally convinced my grandparents to come visit us and when I say convinced I really should clarify and say we bribed them with a gift card to Montgomery Inn.  It's really the only thing that motivates my family (me included).  We took them to the Boathouse which I 100% prefer to the location in Montgomery.  That one reminds me an old smoky men's club, sans the smoke.  Now when you do sit at the Boathouse I only recommend seats by the window at night...otherwise you'll be distracted by all the floating objects passing by!  At one point I could have sworn a tree branch was a body.  I supposedly have 20/20 vision but I am seriously doubting it.  

The Ribs King Wrap has been a favorite of mine since the first time we went - it oozes sauce and cheese.  To compliment my very unhealthy dinner I chose the steamed broccoli as my side. Big mistake - it had ZERO flavor and was definitely over cooked.  My husband's Mac n Cheese was calling to me throughout the entire meal - he saw my puppy dog eyes so he generously left a decent amount in the bowl and said he was "so full he coudln't eat it" after devouring his pulled pork sandwich.  The pork was very moist per usual and had a satisfying amount of the famous sauce on it.  

My Grandpa went for the traditional experience - RIBS! He actually got the Ribs/Chicken combo plate - it came with a heaping pile of both.  It took him a good 45 minutes to get through half the plate.  My Grandma got the Special which I've had 2 times before so I really pushed her to it.  I forget the name (Tornedos something).  It comes with 2 filets topped with mounds of mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes.  To finish it there is a generous amount of bourbon cream.  The dish has such a unique flavor. If you are going out for a special night and can drop $30 on a plate...GET THIS!  It's worth it.  And I always have left overs of it too.  

You can't go to Montgomery Inn without getting ribs so the three of us that didn't get it as the main course got a small appetizer of it to satiate out appetite for the sauce.  The meat just jumps off the bone when you look at it - almost right into your mouth with a bit of course hitting your cheek.  This is not a place for a first date!  

Bottom line - the main dishes, especially anything with the ribs and sauce, are delicious.  The sides are hit or miss - get the Mac N Cheese when in doubt. The green coleslaw just plain scares me - who eats this? Why even both making it green? 

Score: 33 points
Ambiance (2), Tastiness of Dishes (7), Menu (4), Drink Selection (3), Cost (6), Accessibility (4), Service (3), Location (4)

Montgomery Inn on Urbanspoon

March 9, 2010

The Wine Loft - 3 Turkeys

We went up to Kalamazoo, MI to visit some friends this past weekend and they took us out for the night.  I'm not too familiar with the restaurant scene in Kzoo but when we entered The Wine Loft I felt as if I had entered a chic big city lounge.  They had a DJ spinning and a mix of high top tables and little nooks around the bar with couches and plush chairs.  All the nooks were separated by sheer champagne curtains.  Interestingly, everyone I was with commented on how "cool" the bathrooms were.  I don't know about you but there aren't a lot of places where I've taken such an interest in the bathroom decor.  Almost more than the decor in the bar area.

We quickly grabbed a cozy couch near the entrance.  Although it was well past 10 PM I was still famished.  The table opted for some Pumpkin Ravioli with Sage Butter and some Sliders.  The Ravioli lacked noticeable pumpkin flavor and the Sage Butter was really just pure butter.  It was overall too oily for my tastes.  The sliders were OK - the meat bordered on the overcooked side but the buns were perfectly grilled.

To go with our light fare we asked our waitress for some suggestions.  She recommended the Three Thieves Cabernet (California) which we thought sounded delicious.  However, she returned minutes later to tell us they were out - seems like a popular selection.  As we perused the remaining selections we came across one called Hullabaloo.  Although the waitress didn't seem too thrilled with our selection we stuck with it - we are heading to the music festival this summer in Louisville with the same nomer!  Check it out - HullabaLOU.

The wine turned out to be pretty good - much better than the waitress led us to believe.  When she tried to take the bottle away I asked to keep it so I could snap a photo and slipped that I was a blogger.  I couldn't believe I slipped that out - I hate that.  Then she kept making comments about me blogging and when she brought us extra water she said, "Blog It!"  At first I was a bit embarrassed but then I couldn't figure her out.  I wasn't sure if she was being rude or being overly friendly so I would blog about it.  Guess I'll never know.

Good note for us local Cincinnatians - there is a Wine Loft location in Dayton.  I'd be willing to check it out if there is a similar atmosphere.  The food just didn't impress me at the Kzoo location but it could have been just that location.  The menu had an interesting selection which included a few varieties of Ravioli, Lamb Wellington, and seafood cakes.  

The DJ definitely added to the mood of the bar until he started to pack things up at 12:30 AM.  A solid hour before last call.  Needless to say we headed to the next bar on the list where things were sure to stay lively for the next couple hours.  Right as we were heading out we spotted the Mayor of KZoo - from the sounds of it he likes to get out and enjoy the local restaurants.

Score: 30 points
Ambiance (4), Tastiness of Dishes (4), Menu (3), Drink Selection (4), Cost (5), Accessibility (3), Service (4), Location (3)

March 1, 2010

Blue Elephant - 3 Turkeys

Cincinnati has become home to yet another "much needed" Thai restaurant.  Well, to be fair Blue Elephant isn't your normal Thai also has the gull to serve Italian pasta dishes alongside sushi and Thai plates.  The thought of having meatballs & spaghetti after my appetizer of sushi thoroughly discouraged my taste buds.

I visited Blue Elephant the other night with two of my good friends.  The moment we sat down and took one look at the Italian portion of the menu we all agreed in unison we would steer clear of that menu.  Sorry for those of you that were looking to this review for insight as to if the Italian food was good.  But the moment you walk into the restaurant you are greeted with the familiar smells of Thai food along with the decor that seems prevalent in todays mainstream Thai/Sushi establishments.  Bare wooden tables sat along one stone wall while on the other side they bordered a brightly painted red wall with ornate pictures of gold elephants.  Does this scream Thai or Italian to you?  My senses were begging for some curry at this point.  The sushi bar is composed of 4 chairs - a sad excuse for a "sushi bar".  Our table's centerpiece (if you would call it that) was a small, battery powered fake tea light candle.  It looked like the battery was dying b/c the little light could barely stay on.

We opted to go for three maki rolls to start with - the Salmon Tempura Maki, the Tuna Avocado and I asked them to make my favorite: The Alligator.  When asked if that was possible, the waitress simply stated she can do everything.  I like that kind of attitude - more people in the service industry should respond like that.   The rolls were typical aside from the Alligator.  Wild Ginger still makes the best one (for those that didn't read my review on Kyoto, the Alligator is Cucumber with Shrimp Tempura on the inside and Eel with Avocado on the outside topped with eel sauce and lots and lots of tempura "crunch" flakes).  The Blue Elephant version lacked a sufficient amount of eel sauce to accent the fish well.

As for the entrees, be prepared to get a few snickers when you opt for the lowest spice level.  The waitress did give my fellow diners a few looks when they ordered their entrees at Level 1.  I took the risk and ordered the 3 (the hottest the offer) for my Red Curry dish.  While it was very spicy it didn't knock me out.  The curry though was delicious - the right levels of spice with coconut milk and a hearty helping of chicken and veggies.

 One of my friends got the Pad See Ew with Tofu.  When it came out you couldn't even see any of hte noodles there were so many chunks of Tofu.  Well partly because of the sheer amount of Tofu but also because they really skimped on the noodles and they were shorter and thicker than I am normal used to. I love the Pad See Ew noodles so I was very disappointed.  Overall, this dish would not get me to come back - the dish tip toed the bland line and just tumbled on over.

My other dining cohort got the Basil Noodle dish with Chicken.  While the flavor wasn't very strong the basil really did stand out.  The noodles resembled those that are typically used in Pad Thai dishes.  This dish too had an enormous helping of crisp, well cooked veggies.

The restaurant is located right off Wasson just a block from Green Papaya and less than a mile from Wild Ginger.  If Wild Ginger has a long wait give Blue Elephant a try otherwise I might be inclined to stick with Wild Ginger as my go to Thai restaurant especially if you like Pad See Ew.  Well, on second thought I may be re-visiting Blue Elephant for some more of that Red Curry - it's making me salivate just thinking about it.

Word of Caution: parking is limited so keep an eye out for spots on the street and side streets as you pull up.

Score: 33 points
Ambiance (3), Tastiness of Dishes (6), Menu (3), Drink Selection (3), Cost (7), Accessibility (3), Service (5), Location (3)

Blue Elephant on Urbanspoon