Friday, January 13, 2006

Obligatory Restaurant Week Review

so I went to the Oval Room on Wednesday with Auntie Em and Uncle Tim and the Engageds. J could come as he was fried from meeting famous bloggers the night before. Only because of availability that we decided to go to the Oval Room for Restaurant Week. It's a fairly good choice because it crazy ass expensive during any other part of the year. We went Wednesday at 8:30 where there was a very healthy crowd. Thank goodness for reservations as we were seated promptly. I will say that the atmosphere felt weird to me. The decor was just so minimalist and the lighting fairly dim. Overall the service was prompt and competent but nothing special. Really, that's not a problem considering they are slammed because of restaurant week.

I ordered the duck confit cassoulet to start. In ordering I finally found out that confit meant meat that was marinated in its own juices. It was a fairly small portion but this is three courses we're talking about. The cassoulet tasted like an upscale version of the humble pork and beans. It did not have the pork and beans jaw-aching sweetness but a welcome smoky barbecue flavor. Of the other four at the table, three had the butternut squash soup and one had the scallop. Scallop. Singular. Everyone love their soups but really, what can you do to butternut squash soup that is new and inventive? Auntie Em like her scallop but wasn't amazed by it.

For entrees, I had the codfish with braised savoy cabbage, Engaged Boy and Uncle Tim had the tagilatelle, Auntie Em had the steak au poivre, and Engaged Girl had the salmon. I loved loved loved my dish. The fish was moist, tender, and flaky with a light butter sauce that complimented the sweetness of the fish without competing with it. If it was socially acceptable, I would have licked my plate. The cabbage had a sweet nutty flavor, reminiscent of good brussel spouts (a favorite of everyone at the table). The tagliatelle and the salmon was deemed well made, if not revelatory while the sauce for the steak au poivre had a strong bitter taste. It made we want to take Auntie Em to Monmatre to taste their hangar steak.

For dessert, the ladies had the lemon tart, Uncle Tim had the choclate cake, and Engaged Boy and I had the rum cake with cola ice cream. I really did not like the cake at all. I supposed it was designed to be dry to soak up the rum syrup likea baba au rum. But the rum syrup was like your college rum and coke nightmare. It tasted so bitter and was so watery it didn't enhance the cake at all. The laides enjoyed the lemon tarts and Uncle Tim enjoyed his cake.

Overall, this place just felt so establishment. Competent, but not warm. For the most part we enjoyed the meal but it didn't feel like something out of this world. It was hard because my last fine dining experience was Monmartre, where the atmosphere was so much like a friendly French bistro tucked away in some little town. That's hard to compare to. But for $30 for three courses, I'm not complaining...much.


ScottE. said...

Thanks for sharing your din din experience! I've never done dinner for Restaurant week, perhaps next go 'round.

Stef said...

I missed out on Restaurant Week this time, but last time my friends and I did dinner at Oceanaire. It was pretty darn good, but the funniest thing we learned was that one of the best pork chops in town is there, at a seafood restaurant! The 30 dollar dinner is a treat, but somehow we still made it expensive with LOTS of wine. Funny how that can happen. :-)

Jamie said...

I found you both! Nice blog-I'm totally going to start lurking from now on.

Anonymous said...

I thought this may be helpful,


A specialty of the Gascony region, confit is a preserved food item, usually a meat like duck, goose, or pork. The meat is salted and cooked slowly in its own fat. It is then packed into a pot and covered with the cooking fat, which works as a seal and preservative. Confit as a preparation is not applied to meat alone. For example, a head of garlic or a lemon can be cooked and preserved in oil or lard.