12 February 2010

This gang pressed our food button

did another night out at a fancy restaurant with the "dine out" week menu.

this time we didnt have any other errands or engagements, we simply made a reservation and dinner was our only activity for the night. and with three full courses, its about all we could handle. tonight we chose the pricey "press gang" establishment located downtown at the edge of the town square called the "grand parade" which is midway in the line from the city high point of citadel hill down to the waterfront. framing one side of the grand parade is the citys oldest building, a church built in 1750. interestingly, the press gang is located in the citys second oldest building, built in 1759.

anyway, on to the grub. their dine out menu was $45 per person and had some mouthwatering choices we were excited to try. upon arrival, we were seated in a tiny alcove that only housed our little table for two. kinda nice.

so, for starters, dave had a garrison imperial i.p.a. by his side as we shared the "ranchero acres goat cheese tart filled with boar bacon and valley mushrooms topped with arugula and fresh shoot salad" and the surprise delight of the night the "roast chili crab cake topped with pickled onion and market apple slaw with side of avocado yogurt." both were very good. the tart had a good balance of flavors, neither the goat cheese nor the bacon were overwhelming and the crisp of greens on top was a nice finish. but, i guess since the tart tasted as expected, it wasnt as much of a winner as the crab cakes. neither of us has ever voluntarily ordered crab cakes. they always look boring and dry to me and it seems like an easy way to skimp on crab meat and mash a bunch of cheap ingredients together. not so! these crab cakes were crispy on the outside yet packed with lots of moist and spicy flavor on the inside. the pickled onions would normally turn me off but they jazzed up the spice even further while the divine avocado yogurt helped cool everything down. well-paired appetizer. off to a good start.

(the goat cheese, mushroom, bacon tart)

for main dishes, i got the "northumberland lamb shank braised in marechal foch wine with spiced squash puree and roasted beets." im not sure ive ever had that cut of lamb before. it was rich and kinda pot roast-y and felt like a very manly dish. the side of spiced squash puree tasted like belated thanksgiving, i ate it all! and for dave, he ordered the "chicken breast stuffed with roast thigh and smoked shallots, fox hill cheddar roesti, and dried cranberry jus." while the chicken was delightfully moist, the stuffing and cranberry jus were not overly impressive or memorable. the roesti, however, was a nice little crispy hash brown pancake that tasted like potato chips. yum.

(the lamb shank with squash puree)

to finish off, dessert. i ordered the "blueberry panna cotta with nova scotia blueberry, honey, and shortbread cookies." it was a much lighter panna cotta than ive had before and the blueberry taste was so mild that dave didnt even find it to be distinctively fruit flavored. the honey drizzled shortbread was a tasty treat to round out this creation. and dave, he ordered off the regular restaurant menu (since we didnt want an espresso cake, the other "dine out" menu option) the "lavender crème brûlée with icewine marinated berries." this one was less memorable than my dessert. the lavender flavor disappeared after a few bites, leaving it tasting like plain crème brûlée. i would expect a top tier restaurant to buy quality lavender to do the dessert properly, or, if they did that, then i would expect them to know how to handle it and create a dish that was adequately infused with the flavor. if the local ice cream wizard, dee dees, can make a mean lavender ice cream, i expect this place to be able to do a crème brûlée.

(the blueberry panna cotta with honey and shortbread cookies)

so, if it seems like i was a little bit in heaven and a little bit whiny about the food...you would be correct. for me, and for the price, i would expect to come away with more than just a few memorable winners in the form of a surprise awesome crab cake appetizer and yummy main dish sides (the squash puree and roesti). plus, i had to go pee while we were there and their bathrooms were markedly sub-par. the facilities were akin to those found in a cheap and greasy mexican joint. bathrooms mean a lot to me, you may recall i remark on them often, and this one just wasnt cutting it. finish off the evening with a loud and obnoxious bunch of ENT (ear, nose, throat) medical residents seated right near us and the evening ended up being a stalemate. we were glad the dine out menu allowed us to come and afford the evening out, but we werent inspired to come back and pay full price for our meal. for our money, five fishermen was the winner.

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