Thursday, July 29, 2010

What If Your Food Isn't "Just Fine, Thanks!"?

You may have noticed in my last post I planned on writing about the restaurant I dined at last night for restaurant week. Alas, I have decided not to blog in detail about my experience since...well, it wasn't a great experience. Actually, I take that back, the company and conversation was awesome, the beer was cold, but the food left something to be desired, like a kobe beef burger that's not cooked to death, or a salad without any "extra protein"...I don't ask for much!

Which brings me to another interesting topic, what, do you say, if anything, if the food at a restaurant is bad? Issues like bugs in the salad are obviously unacceptable, but truth is, we didn't say anything! We were just having a great time and didn't want to start even the tiniest of confrontations. Looking back, we should have said something, but seeing as it wasn't my salad I didn't want to push the issue.

As if the foodie gods were testing my limits, the waitress came by and said "wasn't that burger GREAT?" and I faked a "Oh, yeah! Great!". I have heard of this phenonmenon of people saying the food is fine even when it's not, and here I am being a part of it. After carefully considering the issue, I have two reasons why I didn't say anything:

1) I was hungry and ate a little more than half the burger before giving up. Kind of tacky to complain about food after you ate half of it.
2) What do you say that doesn't make you sound like a total food snob? " I was expecting awesome and your burger was mediocre at best. Is this your definition of medium?..." I admit it, I am particular about the quality of my food, but I still want to be a nice person, plus, to some people, my waitress included, that burger was perfectly awesome.

What would you do? If a server or the manager comes around and asks you how your food was, are you honest about it? Do you vote with your wallet and never come back? Do you go home and slave over a slanderous Yelp review?

If anyone is out there reading my blog, this is your chance to comment and let me know you are here!

Not the actual bug! Photo: Flikr

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Restaurant Week in Madison

It's restaurant week in Madison! Brought to you by the letters E, A, and T and the number 25. $25 dollars that is, because that's how much a three course dinner costs at participating restaurants. I'm starting to sound like a commercial, you can read the fine print here: Madison Restaurant Week.

Last night I went to Liliana's, a restaurant serving New Orleans style fare just outside of downtown Madison in Fitchburg. I have driven past Liliana's on multiple occasions and judging by the exterior decor only, I wanted to try it. Big windows, outdoor seating...after asking around, a few friends agreed that the food was great as well. There were three dinners on the restaurant week menu to choose from, and I went with the seafood heavy one: the Bayou menu.

My starter was four barbecued rock shrimp, which put Phil's starter (some fried okra and a salad) to shame in both looks and taste. The fresh, succulent, head-on shrimp transported me from ocean-less Madison to a beach side restaurant in Valencia, Spain where the head-on shrimp adorn the top of a savory paella. Obviously these shrimp had traveled some distant from the sea to my belly, but I would never have guessed by the taste.

My main course consisted of a catfish fillet on a bed of southern goodness: greens and grits. Despite growing up in Virginia, I haven't had greens in recent memory. This makes me sad, because they tasted like bacon. I'm sorry bacon flavored leafy vegetables... for not eating you more often when I had the chance. Meanwhile, the catfish and grits had just the right amount of spice for me. Like the appetizer, the entree was a little on the greasy side, but that's just more flavor, right?

Finally, I finished the meal off with a chocolate filled beignet. Now the Chef isn't getting any creativity points for beignets at a New Orleans restaurant, but tastes is what matters and this square chocolate filled donut was simply delicious. After my first bite the waiter came over and asked me if I was enjoying it, I thought about saying "Didn't you hear me moaning?"... but decided to keep the unlady-like comments to myself.

I give this one two governator thumbs up...I'll be back!
Amanda's entree: Catfish with Grits and Greens

Phil's entree:Red Beans and Rice with Andouille Sausage

I'm checking out the Restaurant Week scene again tonight so check back soon!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Crazy Caprese

In my last post I showed you how a few simple pantry staples can make a tasty shortcake to enjoy with summer fruit. Continuing on with the simple and seasonal theme, this week I made a flashy salad. But don't worry, it looks and tastes flashy, but is super easy to make. Just slice up a 2-3 tomatoes (different colors make it fun), and 1 ball of fresh, whole milk mozzarella (the kind that is chilling in the brine pool is the best). Layer the tomatoes, cheese, and some basil, then drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I like a pinch of salt on mine too. YUM!

I'm also helping out my community since I bought the tomatoes and basil at the Madison farmer's market. Even on a budget, I like to eat responsibly when I can. Buying locally ensures that the food I eat doesn't have to travel, which makes it freshers and therefor, tastier! Yummier food is only one of the reasons to buy and eat local food, to read more, check out the REAP's Food Group website: Why Buy Local

I don't know many tricks, but one I do know: the cutting board shot.

...but this trick is pretty impressive, too!