March 26, 2009

Birthday fun

Frank was a sweetheart, he surprised me with a massage and spa appointment for this Saturday at Bally's. I'm very much looking forward to this weekend. Spa on Saturday, good eats and a stay at the Palazzo on Sunday. I'm one lucky girl.

After lounging around a bit we headed out to dinner.

Our Rosemary's reservation was at 7:00. We arrived on time, walked in and it was very overwhelming. We were packed in like sardines. It was loud. We stepped aside and waited to be seated. A few minutes later we were led to our table. We were seated in the dining room at a table to the left of the doors that lead to the bar. Thankfully, the dining room was much more subdued than the bar area. I was grateful for the doors, they muffled the noise, but I’d soon learn how annoying they'd become.

Our waiter asked if we've been there before, I wished I lied and said we had. He went on and on... and on. During his monologue he must have closed that door to the bar area seven times. I resisted making a lame joke about some people being born in a barn. Finally, we were left alone to go over the menu. I had an idea of what I wanted so it didn't take me long to choose my selections. Frank seemed lost; he said nothing was really jumping out at him. There have been a few occasions when this happened before and the meals were bad to down right disastrous. I recognized this and I gave him the out. I asked if he wanted to go. He said, no, we'll stay. He wanted the rack of lamb, but it was served with kalamata olives. He hates olives. I figured they could omit them, especially since they inquired about any allergies or dining restrictions when we first sat down. So, we inquired with our waiter and they were happy to honor his request. We each selected pre-fixe menus, Frank chose soup, salad, entrée, and I opted for appetizer, entrée, and dessert.

We started with seafood salad on a homemade potato chip topped with onion marmalade. It was good, although, salty, but it worked. It was a nice balance of flavor.

Next, we snacked on bread. Two kinds were served: potato and white chocolate pecan glazed with honey. Both were good, I especially enjoyed the latter. I didn’t pick up any white chocolate taste, but it light, airy and moist.

There was a lull while we waited for our first course. It drew our attention to those awful doors. In. Out. Open. Close.

Our appetizers were delivered in unison. Frank had a special, black bean soup with pico de gallo and drizzled with cilantro crème. He first discovered black bean soup in Mexico. This version wasn’t nearly as good, but it was tasty nonetheless. I actually liked it better than my selection, Texas BBQ shrimp with Maytag Cheese slaw. The shrimp seemed overdone. The BBQ sauce was fine. The first bite of the slaw was great and then the bitterness of the blue cheese took over it overpowered any other hint of flavor.

After that, Frank was brought his Caesar salad. The parmesan croutons were huge; they reminded me of children’s building blocks. The romaine was wilted and limp, and simply soaked in dressing. It was too much; we both appreciate a lightly dressed crisp salad. We didn’t finish it.

Again we were left with a long break between courses. This only brought our attention back to those doors. In. Out. Open. Close. We figured it must have been thirty-seven times – thirty eight – thirty nine – C’mon forty! Forty times those doors opened and closed and we hadn’t even dug into our entrées yet.

Finally, we were presented with our entrées. Presentation was nice, we were anxious to dig in. I chose the special, sea scallops wrapped in prosciutto served over lentils with mushrooms and sun-dried tomato and some sort of red vinaigrette. The scallops were dry as the Mojave, I don’t know if the prosciutto drew out all the moisture or what, but they weren’t very good. They seemed overdone and under seasoned. The dish was tasteless. The lentils were bad – they, too, were bland and only had a deep earthy taste. The sun-dried tomatoes had the most flavor. The sauce looked like Thousand Island dressing, but lacked any type of pizzazz. Frank’s lamb was cooked to perfection, but the meat was chewy and bit fattier than it should be. The bordelaise was plain; his basic mashed potatoes were pedestrian but were the better part of the dish.

I was perplexed at this point. I’ve read countless reviews that gave Rosemary’s great accolades for complexity of flavors and achieving great balance with savory and sweet, etc. The only place I saw that showcased was with the amuse-bouche.

Moving on to dessert. We thought we’d ask our waiter to recommend something. Perhaps, we’d been poorly choosing our dishes? He suggested coconut bread pudding. I laughed. There is nothing Frank hates more than coconut. I can’t stand bread pudding. There was no other dessert on that menu that could have been more of a mismatch. He couldn't possibly of known, so we humored the guy and let him go on about how deliciously moist the bread pudding is because of the coconut milk. He left us alone so we could look over the menu.

Nothing grabbed Frank; the desserts I’ve heard good about weren’t listed so I opted to try the Goat Cheese Cheesecake with caramel coulis and hazelnuts. It was the only option that stood out, the others could be sampled in any restaurant in town. Except the bread pudding, I suppose.

The wait for that cheesecake was far too long. It was ridiculous, really. I regretted ordering it. I wondered if they were milking the goat. We’d been sitting for two hours. We were antsy. The chairs aren’t comfortable. Those doors were driving me batty. Yes, it still continued. In. Out. Open. Close.

At last, dessert was served. It was good, too. They brought dessert with a lit candle and a “Happy Birthday” message. I’m certain that caused the lengthy delay. While thoughtful, I would’ve preferred not having to wait. Happily, our check was delivered at that time. A huge victory, we thought for sure we’d be held hostage. The bill was $125. My portion of the total was half-off because it was ladies night. Also, due to ladies night, 18% gratuity was also applied to the total. Service was decent, but slow, and the first round of refills took a bit. I’m not sure the 18% was warranted. When deserved, we tip at least 20% and often more. I’m not a fan of having the tip included. However, I understand that people do tend to under-tip when discounts are applied. I’m sure that’s what prompted the charge.

Lastly, three treats were delivered: a buckeye, lemon tart and coconut something. Frank hates lemon desserts nearly as much as coconut, so the buckeye was they one safe option for him. He bit into it and he was disgusted. I couldn’t understand why, it should be chocolate and peanut butter. I took a taste and it was awful. It tasted spoiled; it was bitter and just bad. I took a bite of the lemon tart to get rid of the buckeye taste. Now that was bitter, it was liked a bite out of a whole lemon. Not a good combination. Fortunately, I saved the best for last the coconut creation was very good. It was simply sweet with great texture.

As you might guess, we didn’t have a great experience, but we still had a nice time. We made the most of it. However, I’m still puzzled. It felt like I went to a completely different restaurant than the one I read about in review after review. It was indeed in a strip-mall, the atmosphere was non-descript, they do serve harmoniously, and will switch out napkins to coordinate with the color of your clothing – my expectations were met on all of those accounts. But I was under the impression that the food is the star, and frankly it should be, it’s what matters most. However, that’s were Rosemary’s fell short last night. I failed to see the value, and our meal was discounted. Despite it all, I’m glad we gave it a try. I only wish it were a better experience.

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