Monday 27 August 2007

Back on the Wagon Again...

Ok, so after a fantastico week -- hubby was away on Tuesday, which necessitated a Girls' Wine Night (TM), Thursday was a Chez Lucien extravaganza with Danielle, Friday was dinner at E18hteen with Kris and Marc, Saturday was a night at the Ex, "now with more booze!", and Sunday, well, it was almost a day of rest (for my liver), except for the sangria -- I have decided to take a break from drinking.

Until tonight, that's Monday Night Martinis and Manicures at the Collection!

Restaurant Review/Personal Account of E18hteen
E18hteen is known as a nice restaurant. Everything I'd ever heard about it was upscale and classy. Great, I thought - it will be a good place to take Kris and Marc, our good-yet-evil friends who bought us about 40 lbs of chocolate and a bodyfat scale as a wedding present. We owed them a dinner, so decided to try it out.

The evening started well, in our living room: I made an olive and walnut tapenade and peaches, wrapped in prosciutto, drizzled with a balsamic reduction, both for the 2nd time this week. First, because if it ain't broke, don't fix it, and second, because they're both deeeeelicious and easy to make... and impressive, too! We opened the bottle of Shotfire Ridge, one of our discoveries Down Under, that Rob gave Chris for his birthday, to raves. Yum.

We walked to E18hteen, about an 8-minute journey. They were expecting us, and gave us a great table, both by a window and by a fireplace filled with candles - gorgeous touch, and worth replicating... if we ever have a place with a fireplace, I mean.

First impression: well, the service was slow...but very polite. Very, very, v e r y slow, though. The very polite waiter took his time coming over to fill our water glasses, and then even more time before he returned with menus.

When he returned for a third time, quite a while later, we each ordered a different dish: Kris ordered the black cod, Marc ordered the scallops, Chris had the surf-n-turf, and I ordered ostrich... mmm, ostrich... without the mushrooms, of course.

It took 30 minutes (from ordering) to see the very polite waiter again. He came back to tell us that they didn't have the wine we ordered, and another 15 after that to get a bottle of another one (some South African Shiraz - quite good). We skipped appetizers, since we'd done that at our place already, and also because we didn't expect the wait to be so long, but woo, it took forever to get food. The bread came just after the wine (now 45 minutes since we ordered), and lasted about 3 minutes - it was delicious, though, and the caramelized butter was a lovely touch.

The food arrived after about an hour, and the first thing I said when I saw mine was, "I asked for no mushrooms" (there were about 200 of them sitting smugly on top of my ostrich). The very polite waiter took it away, and I encouraged the others to start without me. They refused, saying that their food was too hot, anyway.

My large, flightless bird came back quickly, mushroom-less, which makes me wonder if they just rinsed it off and replated it, but either way, yum. Ostrich is a very lean red meat, and this one was perfectly tender, with a delicious sauce, "cherries gastrique" and swiss chard (low-carb, too!). Everyone loved, loved, loved their was it worth the slow service? Undecided. Either way, though, all four plates were pretty much licked clean.

We decided to order dessert - we were fairly full, but the warm chocolate cake with caramel gelato and marshmallow sauce sounded way too good to pass up - one for each couple. We waited...and waited...another 30 minutes... and when it got there, we looked at the giant plates with the itty bitty pieces of cake in the middle (I could have circled it with my thumb and finger) and an itty bitty scoop of gelato on top, surrounded by a pool of marshmallow sauce. Again, deeeeelicious, but microscopic. And, not to pinch pennies, but for $12, I expect more than a mouthful!!!

The very polite waiter, sensing the growing dissention at the table, finally brought the bill, and said that because it took so long to arrive, he didn't charge us for the desserts ($24 for two bites? I should hope not!!!), which was nice and polite and considerate of him.

Overall: the food was incredible. Super-fantastic. Excellent at its poorest. Even the vegetables were amazing. The servers were polite and knowledgeable. However, as we had been prepared for a nice, leisurely meal, it was shocking to find how much more leisurely the meal was than could be considered acceptable. One of the party (guess which one?) termed it as "brutal". I can't imagine how uncomfortable it would have been if we had been struggling to make small
talk for two courses over three hours.

At least we had good company... and good food, eventually.

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