Sunday, July 11, 2010

how things change

It was exactly 5 years ago, last night, that my wife and I went out to eat to celebrate our one year wedding anniversary.  Upon a suggestion from my uncle, we picked a nice restaurant called 1111 Mississippi, which had a wine country bistro type of feel to it. I remember the food prices being high, the food was incredibly tasty and the service was excellent.  Since that dinner, my wife and I had grown into a family, we have been around the world and eaten at many fine and hole-in-the-wall restaurants and we have tasted some things that were just heavenly and others that would make Andrew Zimmern spit out.

Our second anniversary dinner was at Kitchen K, which tried to be an upscale eatery but bad food and bad service cut them down.  Our 3rd year was at Chez Leon, which opened my mind to French cuisine and how good it could be. Our 4th year we went to the Ameristar Casino and to Home nightclub, on the way winning $350 and deciding to just eat at their seafood restaurant instead.  Our 5th meal was in Las Vegas at Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill. So, we moved up in the restaurant eatery scale and going back to our first anniversary spot, we thought it would be relaxing and I could review the place while we were there.

So, we arrived again at 11 Mississippi and just like last time, we were quickly greeted seated, even 10 minutes ahead of our reservations, which is great.  We were asked about our beverage selection and then after we ordered, some bread came for us.  The bread was a rosemary focaccia bread and a small saucer of grated Parmesan cheese and olive oil.  The bread was good but the cheese did not have that characteristic salty flavor.  We guessed that perhaps they store the cheese in olive oil which would dilute the flavor.

We ordered two of the specials and out they came:

This salad was a mixed summer salad with lettuce, strawberries, mandarin oranges, raisins, almonds and feta cheese clumps.  The salad was not that large and there was almost no dressing on it.  Both my wife and I thought that nothing really went together, it was as if they took all the pieces and just threw them on the plate.  What we didn't know when told about this special salad or it was delivered was that it was $7.99!  This salad was smaller, in portion size, than those you can get at St. Louis Bread Company, so we figured it was a side salad cost; like $3.99 or $4.99, not $7.99!  Overall, salad got a miserable 1 out of 5 stars.

I ordered a special that was described as pineapple and melon gazpacho soup.  My wife and I were waiting for something that was chunky, flavorful and full of summer cooling flavors; especially the melon and pineapple.  What was delivered was this:

Yeah, this was put down in front of me. What was given to us, was a tomato puree' soup that had hints of melon, more than a punch of pineapple and way too much basil.  Gazpacho soup is supposed to be chunky or at least not a complete liquid.  The first spoonful tasted good, with all tones being recognized.  It started with basil, moved into pineapple and then finished with basil again.  The second spoon tasted okay but by the third and fourth and past that, all I tasted was basil.  Those green specs in the picture are basil.  It was too basily and the acid of the pineapple didn't help the basil but only hurt the dish.  The idea may have been a good one, but maybe if it wasn't a puree' and there was not that much basil, it would have been better.  A bad dish is one that may taste great on the first spoon, but it seems to go downhill and you don't know why, but by the 5th and 6th spoon you can't and don't want to finish it.  It was a $4.99 soup or so so I wanted to finish it with my wife saying "you don't have to if you don't like it".  Ha!  That soup may have done better than that pile of greens up above, maybe I'd give this a 1 out of 5 stars as well, because I couldn't finish it.  Too much basil!

Our main courses came after wards and we were happy.  I remember having great entrees during our first time here and I was looking forward to a good end to this bad food meal.

This was the braised rabbit on a cheese polenta.My wife complained of the meat not tasting like rabbit enough, as it tasted like gamy turkey and didn't have a goo enough flavor.  Furthermore, it was covered in an orange sauce that did nothing for the meat.  My wife couldn't finish the meat and ate the polenta underneath instead.  I think she gave it a 3 out of 5 stars.

Now, a few other things that we noticed.  It would be best that while explaining the specials of the day, since they are not listed on the menu with the prices, to explain what their cost is as well. If our waitress had explained to us that the salad was $8 then we may not have ordered it.  Secondly, one of the first things I remember learning as a bus boy at Old Country Buffet was to not stack plates at the table.  When you are enjoying a romantic evening and the busboy comes by and takes your plate, with food remnants still on it and your wife's plate with things on it as well, and stacks them, right in front of her, and then walks off, it doesn't add to the nice and romantic atmosphere.  Those plates should have been picked up and taken away separately, not stacked in front of us.  I was worried that it would spill on my wife's dress, right into her lap.  Either the level of expertise has to be higher in order to satisfy my wife and I or this place has gone downhill in the past 5 years.

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