Thursday, November 08, 2007

Bravo Cucina Italiana

I thought I would rate the experience we had at Bravo Cucina Italiana on Hayden Run Road in Columbus, Ohio last week. My brother is a chef there so my husband and I go there quite frequently as does the rest of my family. We decided to have dinner there because my brother had given me coupons to use that were good through October. Though we usually try to go when my brother is working, the night we went in, he was not there. My brother always wants me to tell the server, host, etc., that I am his sister to try to get free food , but I do not like doing that. When I go to Bravo, I am a paying customer like every one else.

Anyway, the evening we went in we were given a waiter that I was not thrilled with. He had never served us before, and I did not like his style. I was surprised, as we normally get great service there. We asked for bread while we looked over our menu, which our server brought. Bravo serves bread with olive oil, but the olive oil has a mix of sun dried tomatoes and herbs in it that the staff calls the "guts". We love the "guts". The oil our server brought us didn't have any of the "guts" in it(or very little) so I asked the server if we could have more "guts". Since my brother works there, I know that they have more "guts" without oil in the back. The kitchen staff puts the "guts" in the oil themselves. If a customer wants more, all the server has to do is go to the refrigerator and scoop out more. Instead, our server told us that he didn't think he could give us more "guts" than any one else because it would throw off the "distribution" for all the other guests but he would "see what he would do". He brought us more oil with a little more "guts" but not much. I think all he did was pour it from a different bottle.

My husband Adam texted my brother jokingly saying that Bravo is stingy with its "guts". My brother quickly got caught up with what was going on and was not pleased with the situation. By this time we had moved onto our entrees. My brother quickly called the store and let one of the chefs know what was going on. I certainly did not ask my brother to do any of this. It really was not a big deal to us, but apparetnly it was a big deal to Bravo. We began getting our 6 month son ready to leave when the manager came up to us. By this time we had already paid our bill. The manager told us that he wanted to take care of our dinner. I felt so bad, that was not my intention at all which I let the manager know. We told him several times that it really was not necessary but he insisted over and over, so we finally gave in. I was impressed that whether I was family or not, the manager and other employees took so much pride in their service.

I also did not like this servers manners but perhaps that is just me. My husband and I are grammar snobs sometimes and get irritated when educated adults use poor grammar (though I am sure I am commas in wrong spots through out this review, but I was never good with commas). When asking if I was finished with my plate, the server just said, "You done with that?" Maybe I am being too picky, but I would have preferred to hear something along the lines of "Are you finished with your plate ma'am?"

I would also like to mention that my husband Adam had a new scallop entree that was delicious! The scallops were pan-seared on top of gnocchi with sweet potatoes on the side. It was probably one of the best dishes we have had there.

My point to this review is not to critique the food but mention the excellent service. My brother told me a story of how Bravo will always go out of their way for a guest. He was working a very busy Friday night when one of the head Chefs told him that he needed to run across the street to the local grocery store for a jar of pickles. My brother was confused by why they would need a jar of pickles. Apparently there was a couple dining who had their baby with them and forgot to bring pickles, one of the baby's favorite things to eat. So my brother went and bought a $5 jar of pickles for the baby. Is this kind of service going over the line? Maybe, but if they are willing to do it, that is up to them. I think it is nice that there are businesses out there that still value their customer.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Z Cucina Beer Tasting

This review is slightly different from some of my other reviews. We have been to Z Cucina many times for dinner, but this time we went for a beer tasting. Therefore, this review is more on the tasting than the restaurant as a whole.

The tasting focused on the Avery Brewery, located in Boulder, Colorado, with guest host Adam Avery, the owner and brewmaster of Avery. I thought it was a wonderful touch to have the owner of the brewery there to educate the tasters on each beer we were trying. The night consisted of a 5 course meal with each course pair with a different beer, and most courses we were actually served 2 different beers.

The Sous Chef began the evening with a Fennel Salad served with citrus, cilantro, and spiced pumpkin seeds. It was paired with Avery's White Rascal Belgian Wit and they also served wih Avery's Salvation Belgian Golden Strong Ale. The salad was wonderful! The citrus and fennel gave the salad a summer feel, but the addition of the spiced pumpkin seeds were a nice touch to remind us that it is fall. The salad was paired perfectly with the White Rascal Belgian Wit, however I have decided not to comment on the beer itself, as my husband is more the beer review than I.

The second course was one of the most interesting dishes I think I have had in quite some time. Ths course consisted of 2 pan-seared scallops on top of a bed of black lima beans and diced ham. The scallops were topped with crispy sweet potato straws and finished with a pomegranate seed and sauce. I would never have thought myself to pair scallops and lima beans, but this worked remarkably well. This course was wonderful and probably my favorite of the evening. It was paired with Avery's Redpoint Amber Ale.

The third course was duck and parsnips prepared two different ways. One preparations was seared duck with pickled parsnips. The duck was juicy, tender, and flavorful. The pickled parsnips were a very interesting addition to the duck breast and added a special touch to the duck breast. The other preparation was duck leg confit with masked parsnips with a sort of demi glaze. The parsnips were creamy and very similar to mashed potatoes. The leg confit was my part of this course. It was rich and full of flavor. This dish was paired nicely with Avery's Jubilation English Strong Ale.

Our fourth course was espresso rubbed lamb rack with a mixed grain risotto, mixed beets, and finally the lamb was finished with ancho mole. The lamb was tender and juicy. The espresso rub was a welcome addition to the lamb. The mixed risotto was wonderful and I felt the highlight of this course. I tasted the beets and I am sure that they were wonderful, but I am just not a beet fan. This dish was nicely paired with Avery's Hog Heaven Barleywine.

The final course was dessert. They served goat cheese cheesecake with persimmon puree, honey-cardamom candy, and topped this all off with pink salt. The cheesecake was smooth and very dense. I really enjoyed it with the persimmon puree. I was not a huge fan of the pink salt on top. I personally would have like the salt to be mixed into the crust instead of on top of the cake. Besides the salt, the cheesecake was wonderful. The final dish was paired with Avery's Oak Aged English Strong Ale. The Strong Ale was a nice accompaniment with the dessert as it had more of a cognac quality to it than beer.

I thoroughly enjoyed our evening tasting beer and tasting it with food. I think the evening was a success and we are looking forward to our next tasting there, be it wine or beer!!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Rigsby's Kitchen

For my husband's birthday we decided to try Rigsby's Kitchen. We were a little nervous about trying something new again on his birthday, because the previous 3 years we tried new places and were sadly disappointed. We decided to risk it this year and Rigsby's managed to break the streak.

Rigsby's is located in the heart of the Short North, on High Street, right next to RJ Snappers. The space is open and contemporary with notes of tradition like an interior wall of exposed brick. The atmosphere is trendy and casual with hints of sophistication.

Let's get the important part, the food. We began with 2 different appetizers, the Steamed Mussels and the Prosciutto and Melon plate. Both were wonderful. The Steamed Mussels were done to perfection in a tomato and wine broth with a hint of spicy. The prosciutto was also wonder paired with the ripe melon soaked in Sambucca.

For dinner I had the special, Walleye poached in a tomato and wine broth(different from the sauce in the mussels), and served over various vegetables cut in a julienne style. My was very good, however, my husband's entree was much tastier. He had the Barbecued Pork Porterhouse. Now, I am always wary of ordering pork because it can be hit or miss. I am always afraid that it will come out touch as leather. Rigsby's pork porterhouse was not touch at all! It had a nice crisp and salty pan-seared quality to the outside and full of flavor on the inside. It was paired nicely will crisp mushrooms and sweet potatoes. He enjoyed it so much that it was gone before I had the chance to ask for a bite.

Another entree that could definitely steal the show are the sea scallops. They are wonderful! The sea scallops were so large that they reminded me of tenderloin medallions. They had a nice salty and crisp exterior and a nice moist center, not at all rubbery or overdone.

Rigsby's is wonderful and I would recommend it in a heartbeat!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Last week my husband Adam, Jerry, my father-in-law, and I went to a new restaurant in the Short North called Rosendale's. I can not say enough about how wonderful Rosendale's is! Their philosophy, to quote the website, is simple. They boast using the highest quality meats and seafood available, in addition to the freshest fruits and vegetables, with a focus on American regional ingredients. They only use ingredients that are in season and are the freshest possible. And it shows!

We started off with appetizers. We decided to choose 3 starters and share them with each other. We ordered the Goat Cheese Dumplings, Sea Scallop, and the Maryland Crabcake. The Sea Scallop and Goat Cheese Dumplings were definitely the best of the 3. The dumplings were wonderful and had lumps of warm, creamy goat cheese in a light broth that we all dipped our bread in after the dumplings were gone. The sea scallop was also wonderful with foie gras. It was full of flavor, but maybe not the best one to split as it was really only meant for 1.

We decided to skip salad and went right to the entree. I had the 48 Hour Braised Angus Beef Short Ribs with Parmesan Potatoes. The short rips were so tender they melted in my mouth, and the potatoes were rich and creamy. Adam had the Lobster stuffed Chicken. He loved it! He said it was one of the best meals he had ever had and that the Chef really understood him, because he was only given the asparagus tips. That is the only part of the asparagus he eats!

Jerry had the Soy soaked Chilian Sea Bass. It was also wonderful also, and bursting with flavor.

Since we skipped salads, we also ordered dessert and coffee. I was so excited when my coffee came out in its own little french press pot along with cubes of granulated sugar and cubes of brown sugar. I had the molten chocolate cake which was wonderful. Adam had the creme brulee, which had huckleberries at the bottom of it. He must have enjoyed it, because he didn't have any leftovers!

Rosendale's also sells a cookbook and offers cooking classes. There are classes at the restaurant or the chef will also conduct private classes at another location.

I would recommend Rosendale's in a minute and look forward to my next visit there!!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Five Chimneys: A Woman Survivor's True Story of Auschwitz

By Olga Lengyel

I always seem to be drawn to books on the Holocaust. Whenever I find a new one, it is difficult for me to pass it up. I think that I am continously mystified by the hate and loathing that can be present in a single person. It is even more devistating when that hatred is present in a large group of people who are in power.

This book was difficult for me to read. I have not read a Holocaust book since becoming a mother. I found it even more difficult than ever before to read stories about what happened to infants and children. I almost put the book down to read another time, but I really wanted to know how this woman's story ended. The author spoke of atrocities that I have not heard or read before, and I have read my fair share of eyewitness accounts of the concentration camps. Some were almost hard to believe, but I dont doubt they happened.

This book is definately not for everyone. If you like to read stories and accounts of the Holocaust, then you will find this book intriguing. If not, then this book may be a bit too heavy.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Los Altos de Eros, Costa Rica

I know many of our friends have already heard about our honeymoon, but I wanted to give a full review of where we stayed.

We stayed in a small resort called Los Altos de Eros in the northwestern region of Costa Rica. To call the establishment a small resort is perhaps not accurate, yet calling it a glorified Bed and Breakfast could be considered an understatement. Los Altos has a Bed and Breakfast feel because you are staying in the owners home, however, I dont know many Bed and Breakfasts that have an infinity pool, spa, yoga center, plus a full staff to tender your every want and desire. There are 6 rooms that surround the infinity pool. Each room has its own bathroom with outdoor shower! There is a community living area with flat screen TV and common dining area. They serve breakfast and lunch every day and dinner 2 times a week, which is all complimentary. I must admit, the thought of eating my meals with other guests was not the most appealing, but after our first day I rather enjoyed talking to the other guests. The food is amazing as well! Everything was fresh and homemade and delicious!

Los Altos is perched in the mountains with a very distant view of the ocean. The beach is a mere 20 minutes away, but we really enjoyed the resort more than the beach! We spent most of the time sitting by the pool enjoyed the abundant wildlife around. We enjoyed watching the hummingbirds, parakeets, and other strange birds that flew around the pool. There were also families of howler monkeys that we saw a few times, but you can almost always hear in the distance.

Los Altos is somewhat difficult to get to, as you have to travel over bumpy dirt roads that are not marked with names and there are very few highways in Costa Rica. Luckily, the resort has drivers that pick you up at the airport and take you where ever you want to go! The resorts owns will even arrange activities for you such as snorkling, surf board lessons, or trips to the rainforest. The make all the arrangements for you. All you have to do is be ready to go when they tell you!

Los Altos also has a spa with a variety of treatments. There is also a yoga center where you can take yoga lessons from a trained instructor.

Los Altos de Eros is a one of a kind experience! This vacation may not be for everyone, but if you want relaxation, luxury, a little adventure, and want to get away from the norm, this is definately the place to go!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

June 2007

Recently, Adam reminded me that I still have this other blog and he suggested that I work on it again. So that's what I am doing. I plan to stick with the original format of this blog and continue to write about books and food. We have the separate family blog, which is password protected. If you want to view that one, you will need to email me so that I can give you access.

Look forward to new posts on A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini and Five Chimneys by Olga Lengyel.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Something New

I'm back! It has been a long time since I updated this! I am guessing the 5 people that may have read my blog before are no longer checking on it, but Adam and I have been through a lot in the last few months! One major life change is a lot to go through, but we went through 3 in about 4 months! Yikes! We are still trying to recover!
I have recently decided to change the format of my blog a bit. I still plan on writing about books and food, as I love both, but I have been inspired lately by my friend Shannon's blog! She mainly writes about her family and what is going on in their lives. I have decided to follow suite and do the same kind of thing! We have a lot of friends who live far away and this is a way to keep everyone posted on what we are up to. It also serves as a journal for me. Our day to day lives are not THAT exciting, but I thought that with a baby on the way, our lives are bound to get more exciting soon! It will be fun to keep everyone posted on the pregnancy and then later the baby.
I hope you all enjoy the new format and I always welcome comments and suggestions!!