Thursday, April 28, 2011

Triumph Grill

I really hadn't heard anything about the Triumph Grill (http://www.triumphgrill.com) but as soon as I was led to the table, I immediately recognized it as the “motorcycle museum”, which is right next door to the Moto Museum as well.

Triumph is worth trying out just for the décor alone...a very creative use of motorcycle parts and very modern design. At one end of the restaurant is the museum that can also be used for banquets, and at the other end is a Ducati store.

I really was sent to Triumph because my friends wanted me to know about another good restaurant near the Fox (because I always going to Vito's). I hadn't heard anything about the food prior to going in so I was open to anything. It was actually hard to choose an entree since there is something for everyone. I was lucky in that I went with a large group and got to try several dishes and everything I tasted was very good.

I started with the Clos du Bois Riesling, which is a dryer version, but I would have liked to have seen a beer list since there were so many burgers on the menu.

There was a unique list of appetizers, which was nice to see, but there wasn't a crab cake for me to try. I ended up skipping the appetizers since most sounded a little greasy and I ended getting the soup platter instead.

I got excited when I heard the soup of the day was a broccoli cheddar, but even happier that I could try the crab bisque and the mushroom and leak bisque as well! The soup platter gives you 3 out of the 4 choices, the fourth being a chili.

It was better to order the platter since there was one scoop of each and it wasn't too overwhelming, but I did start to feel a little full afterwards.

My friends ordered the San Marino Wedge salad, which came with an amazing homemade green goddess dressing. My friends also split the wedge since it was so large and you could have split any of the other salads or pastas for sure.

I decided on the Apple Cider Steamed Sea Bass because I knew I couldn’t go wrong although I was surprised that it was one of the more expensive meals. While I didn’t taste any apple cider, the dried cherries gave the fish a sweet flavor.

I also got to taste the Valentino’s Wild Mushroom Pasta (thick noodles, strong mushroom flavor!) as well as the Crispy Barbecue Chicken Ranch Salad. The BBQ flavor had a spicy finish that caught me off guard but still was very good flavor. I'm not sure I could eat a whole meal with the BBQ and the pulled pork was also mixed in this BBQ sauce so be careful.

The best taste I got was from one of the burgers...I would highly recommend one of the three burgers to choose from, although one of the burgers cost $10,000 since it comes with a free motorcycle. Hehe And beware of the homemade chips that were as hard as flat rocks.

Of course I can't go out with my friends without trying dessert and all four looked delicious. We got the “Blondie”, which is vanilla ice cream on top of a chocolate cookie brownie, as well as my pick (the best one), a chocolate cake with chocolate icing. Super rich!

My friends and I went at 6pm on a Saturday night and it really didn't get too crowded until another hour or so later, so it just might be the perfect secret to getting a good pre-show meal in the area.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Bici Cafe

As good as the last restaurant was, Bici Café in University City was a total disappointment. My friends had gone there several times and they drive pretty far just to go to the restaurant. Now, I KNOW I have been to the restaurant a couple of times before, located on the corner of Pershing and Jackson, but I cannot remember what it used to be.

I knew we might be in trouble when my friend asked about some of his favorites that were not on the menu. Turns out their favorite items were not currently being served and were only on a “summer menu”. Regardless, we found plenty to order as it is our tradition to try as many small plates as possible.

We all tried the Spanikopita and the Lobster Ravioli(?), while ordering a Tuna Nicoise and the Ultimate Grilled Cheese. I thought they were all excellent choices and was really looking forward to my meal so I just ignored the waitress’ rush in taking our order.

Looking back, I’m not quite sure why she was in such a hurry since we had a long wait for our food. There was such a long wait that our small plates (as well as my salad) came out at the same time as our meals.

The biggest disappointment came when we finally got to eat…the Spanikopita had too strong of a spinach taste the ravioli had a strong fishy taste. My tuna nicoise was just mediocre. All the items in the salad came artfully separated on a long dish, which at this point, I just wanted them mixed already.

The Ultimate Grilled Cheese was very good…but probably nothing that I would make a special trip for. I could taste the basil, tomato, and extra gouda cheese very well which was a nice treat. I did enjoy the sweet potato fries that came with the sandwich, but my friends complained there were very few fries on the plate.

At least Bici’s got one thing right: dessert! I think it MIGHT be worth stopping by once for their Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding and just skip all the other courses. Hopefully, if you only ordered dessert, you might actually get to eat it within a reasonable wait time.

As a family friend once said, “Take a picture!” and I immediately gave up my future coupon to my friends.

Sidney Street Cafe

Sidney Street Café definitely lived up to all the hype after hearing about it from my family all these years. My Dad was kind enough to use his birthday dinner at a restaurant I had never been before and I figured it must be good if both of my parents really enjoyed going back many times over!

I was really impressed with the length of the menu…it means that surely everyone can find something. Even though I had studied the menu ahead of time, the wait staff takes the time to explain every item on the menu verbally. This was important because I was just about ready to select the lamb trio when it turned out they were served with a side of brussel sprouts. That helped make my decision much easier: Filet Bearnaise, which also came stuffed with lobster!

My Dad ended up ordering the lamb trio but it was gone far too quickly for me to try a bite, but I had better luck getting a taste of the Walu, which is a Hawaiian white fish. So much flavor! And it came with a fantastic homemade pasta.

I wasn’t able to finish my meal, even though they are reasonably portioned, due to the amount of appetizers and beignets that I ate first. Hehe Luckily, there was a sampler plate so I could try more than one appetizer and they were each maybe 1-2 bites, so I didn’t have to share. I probably wouldn’t recommend any appetizers in general because the portions are so tiny but everything was excellent.

I tried the Veal Dumpling (my favorite), the Lobster Turnover (a close 2nd), the Jumbo Lump Crab Cake (hey…it’s tradition), and the Shrimp wrapped in bacon that I immediately unwrapped.

The wait staff was even kind enough to place some fresh beignets in my “to go” box so I had quite the meal the next day!

Dessert? That was easy too: Dark Chocolate Turtle Brownie. Oh yes. It really did cause some ooohs and aaahs out loud.

Just a complete win all around and I would go back there without any hesitation. Definitely worth a special occasion or celebration.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Goat Cheese Class 2011

I was really happy with the “Goat’s Milk” cheese class because that meant one of my cheese-particular friends could join me for a change. The biggest surprise for me, over the past few years, is that goat cheese comes in so many forms…from the typical chevre that we may think of to my personal favorite, a hard, dry cheese, Midnight Moon.

The other interesting fact about goat cheese that I learned this month is that it is the only type of cheese you can freeze, although it should be wrapped tightly, and allow almost two days for a slow defrost.

Instead of a chevre, the two softer goat cheeses came in the form of a runny, gooey Bonne Bouche and a goat brie from Canada. While the Bonne Bouche had quite a pungent flavor, the brie was much milder and could easily replace its milk version and you’d never know.

All three of the firmer cheese stood out and while I think the Midnight Moon had the most flavor, I was definitely biased. I learned that Midnight Moon is actually imported from Holland by Cypress Grove while Chabrin is imported from the Pyrenees. The Chabrin was definitely a close second and quite similar to the Midnight Moon. I also think Midnight Moon could have been held off towards the end to be paired with a red wine.

The cheese that was served with a dry, red zinfandel was the LeChevrot, from the Loire Valley. A strong, “goaty” and nutty flavor altogether.

I’m not sure when the next cheese class will be but hopefully seafood class and cheese class will alternate with each other so we don’t have to go too long without either one.