Restaurant Week: Ogden's Hops & Harvest

August 27, 2013
Our second Restaurant Week meal was at Ogden's Hops & Harvest in Tivoli Village. We never dined at Bradley Ogden when it was open at Caesars so I was anxious to try his famous blue cheese soufflé. I made reservations via opentable, 7:00 was booked so I chose 7:30. When we arrived about 15 minutes early we were seated right away. There was only one other table dining at the time. A bit odd, but our server was bubbly and friendly. She warned us that several beers were out. My choice, Summerfest, was no issue, but Frank wanted an IPA. All out. Four varieties. Also, out of his next two picks. Summerfest, it is.

Our server was very apologetic and mentioned that keg orders won't come in until the new month. Frank watched enough Bar Rescue's he pressed the issue; asking about keeping inventory at par. She had no idea. Hopefully, management can get it together, a place with Hops in the name should have kegs on hand at all times. Customers like to drink hoppy beer at the end of the month too. Frank also found that they were out of paper towels in the men's restroom as well. They must be coming in with the kegs.

The restaurant week menu is three courses for $40.13

We got started with the Blue Cheese Souffle and Corn soup with shrimp. I liked the roasted fennel and fruit salad that accompanied the soufflé, but the soufflé itself seemed to be lacking something. A crunchy salty crust would've been nice. The soup was served room temperature. I don't know if that was intentional. It had nice flavor from the sweet corn and the shrimp were grilled to perfection.



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For the main course, Frank chose the steak (medium rare) and potatoes, and I had the roasted halibut with medley of vegetables. The fish was good, nicely prepared and seasoned. I liked the vegetables, but not the chickpeas. They were too bland. The potatoes that came with the steak were French fries. The steak had good flavor, but it was inedible because it was so chewy. I've never encountered anything like it. We had it removed from our bill. They offered something else from the menu, but he had lost his appetite.





Dessert was Butterscotch Pudding and Devil's Food Cake with walnuts and vanilla ice cream. I was a bit nervous to order the pudding fearful that it would be overly sweet, but it was a pleasant surprise. It was creamy with a well balanced butterscotch flavor. The cake was pretty good with ice cream, but the pudding was the better dish.





It had the potential to go right, but it just didn't. I'd expect more from a restaurant with a chef of this caliber. Pretty plates isn't enough in Sin City. There is just too much competition.

Ogden's Hops & Harvest on Urbanspoon

Downtown Moab

August 26, 2013
I've shared about a few places we visited while in Moab, now let me tell you about where we stayed and what we ate. We booked a condo on VRBO.com. It was originally an office building that they've converted into a couple units. The location couldn't be more convenient and the accommodations were very comfortable. I positively adored the sink. We really enjoyed it and I recommend it if you find yourself needing a place to stay in Moab. Rates were very affordable, cheaper than the hotels for our dates.

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Our first night, we had dinner at the Moab Brewery ($59). The food was underwhelming. I had Blackened Tilapia with pasta with came highly recommended from the waiter, but the pasta was pretty terrible. Fortunately, the fish was edible. Frank had a Turkey Melt that he found decent. Beers on draft are limited to 3.2% abv, anything stronger is only available in cans. We enjoyed the Hefeweizen, it had great flavor.

The next morning we had breakfast at Eklecticafe ($21). It is indeed Eclectic, Frank ordered biscuits and gravy and I had to try the huevos rancheros since they are a favorite on yelp. We sat outside on the patio. Flies were horrendous. We probably should've moved inside, but we stuck it out. Both dishes were nicely prepared. Neither we the best ever, but we were satisfied.

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The meals never improved. We had dinner at Moab Grill. It came at a high price ($100) and failed to deliver. I left hungry. We started with a selection of sausages. Elk, buffalo and wild boar. The Elk was so sour, I couldn't even swallow the bite I took. Frank was able to try a bite, the rest remained. The boar was decent still too gamey for my liking, the buffalo was the best of the three. Although, I can't say I liked it.

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Frank had the daily special which was a buffalo steak with two sides. He had the succotash and mac n cheese. The buffalo had great flavor too bad it was covered in barbeque sauce. The succotash was the highlight.



I love duck and couldn't resist the duck tamales. I was intrigued by the blue cheese and garlic potatoes so I had a side of those as well. The tamales were dry, any flavor of duck was lost in the adobo sauce and the rice was terribly bland. It wasn't worth the calories. The potatoes had an odd taste to them, best I can associate it with was a poor quality blue cheese. Neither Frank or I was able to eat them.

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I chalked this one up to a bad beat.

Another followed... The next morning we had breakfast at Moab Grill ($24), it was too early for the Eklecticafe. Our waitress never brought the Diet Coke I ordered. Frank had a crummy Omelet, I ordered French Toast figuring it was a safe bet. I was wrong. The version that was served was coated in cereal. Think French toast coated in Frosted Flakes. I much prefer savory to sweet, I wasn't able to eat more than a slice. Fortunately, two mystery pancakes were brought over. I was able to eat one and half of those. The other half was drowned in butter and left inedible. Again, I left hungry. Plus, it was another meal with pesky flies.

We grabbed lunch at Pantele's Desert Deli. I thought I'd keep it simple with a turkey sandwich. It was a bit dry, but otherwise ok. Frank ordered a salad that came with brisket. He didn't realize that was the case, it would have been better with chicken.

That night we had reservations at Desert Bistro ($120). I was ecstatic to finally enjoy a meal. We were given the option to dine on the patio or indoors. They made the patio sound lovely so we opted for that, but we should've chose indoor dining. Flies were again an annoyance. Drips of water fell from the misters and the chairs were metal with no cushions about 20 minutes in we were already terrible uncomfortable.

We started with Gyozas filled with tofu and other goodies. We also split the Chipotle Chili Caesar salad. We favored the Gyozas they pack a lot of flavor into a small bite. I expected the salad to have some kick, but it lacked any spice. I found it pretty unmemorable. Though it was crisp and fresh.



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Frank ordered lamb chops for his entrée. They were a fine preparation. He didn't care for the sweet potato stack, but I enjoyed it. I opted for the homemade Agnolotti Pasta filled with cheese and mushrooms. It was well executed and the best thing I ate all week in Utah. However, it didn't measure up to pastas I've had here at home.

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We couldn't stand to sit any longer so we skipped dessert and begged for the check. We had walked over from the condo, on the way back we stopped at Crystal's Cakes and Cones. We had delicious scoops of ice cream. It was a real win!

Eventually, we resorted to eating at Wendy's for lunch and dinner; and Burger King for breakfast. We kept striking out and we had spent quite a bit on food so it seemed like the easiest solution. This was no small feat, because up until recently the only fast food I would eat is In-N-Out and Cane's. Wendy's came out with the Chicken Apple Pecan Salad. It's pretty tasty and always fresh. Unfortunately, they botched mine and left out half the ingredients. Which made it pretty lackluster. We thought Burger King breakfast would be cheap and quick. It was quick, but certainly not cheap at $17.47.

Moab might be home to some beautiful sights and great Jeep trails, but it lacks in culinary delights. If we ever return, I'd look for a place to stay with a full kitchen and make our own meals.

Pantele's Desert Deli on Urbanspoon Desert Bistro on Urbanspoon Desert Bistro on Urbanspoon Moab Brewery on Urbanspoon Buck's Grill House on Urbanspoon Eklecticafe on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Week: Martorano's

August 25, 2013
It is that time of year again. Yes! Restaurant Week Fall 2013 has begun. Our first stop was Martorano's inside the Rio. A second location will be opening at Paris soon. Honestly, I never had much interest in dining at Martorano's until a couple friend's started to rave about the eggplant stack. I love eggplant and I had to try it. When I saw that it was offered on the $50.13 Restaurant Week menu it sealed the deal.

I made reservations for 8 o'clock. Our party of four was seated promptly. We were a bit surprised to find the dining room so empty on a Friday night. With only a few diners the music was too loud and so were the movies playing on the tv. It made conversation with our friends a bit challenging.

We got started with an order of Calamari ($18). It was tender but any crispness was lost from it being buried in chili sauce. I would've preferred to dip it. The longer it sat, it turned to complete mush.

They brought over their homemade mozzarella as a special treat, and it was was special! This was the highlight of the meal for me. The mozz was well seasoned with, olive oil and pepper flake. Inside was layers of salty prosciutto. Yum.

The eggplant stack was up next. It was beautifully layered with lightly breaded eggplant that was fried crisp, fresh tomatoes, mozzarella and arugula. I had high hopes for this dish, but I felt it missed the mark. It was terribly underseasoned and I wished the arugula was basil. It might have saved it from being so bland.

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As for the entrees, we sampled the Penne Vodka and Bucatini Carbonara. I had the carbonara, there was something significantly off about it. It lacked that luscious mouth feel and as it cooled it got gummy and off putting. To makes matters worse, a heavy hand of salt was added to this dish and the pancetta only made it worse. I tried Frank's Penne and it too was overly salty. His was inedible to me.





By the time dessert arrived I was dying for a sweet bite to refresh my palette from the salty sea taste that lingered. A cannoli and tiramisu were supposed to be the choices, but they had run out of tiramisu. Fortunately, they were substituting their NY Cheesecake. Thankfully, this was well executed. It wasn't overly sweet or rich. I enjoyed it.



Overall, it was an underwhelming experience even at a fraction of regular price. At least, we helped out Three Square Food Bank. I will add service was very attentive; No complaints there.

Café Martorano on Urbanspoon

Dead Horse Point State Park

August 23, 2013
After Canyonlands, we visited Dead Horse Point State Park. Little did I know it was a Mesa that allows you to see miles into Canyonlands and the Colorado River. It offers nearly an identical view of what we saw from the Gooseneck Trail. At least the sun started to break through the clouds. I expected more than one major look out. I don't regret seeing it, but definitely experience Arches and Canyonlands over this park.

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Canyonlands National Park

August 21, 2013
Canyonlands National Park was also a must see while we were in Moab. The park is quite large, most people only see the Island in Sky. It sits about 1000 feet above the terrain below. The areas further out are Needles and the Maze. Needles is accessed from the otherside of Moab. The Maze is one of the most remote places left in the US. Very few people ever experience it. We would love to plan ahead and make it happen if they ever allow UTV's into the park. We hope someday soon they will realize they are not the same as ATVs. Anyhow, we drove to each of the lookouts that are part of Island in the Sky. Stopping at the Grand View Point first. We felt it was aptly named.

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Mesa arch was one of the most beautiful landscapes I've ever seen. It's truly breathtaking. And nerve wracking so many people climbed the top of the arch to pose for photos one girl was even jumping. I'm an adrenaline junkie, but that was too much for me. One wrong move and you're a goner.

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If we had planned a bit better, we could have done the White Rim Road. Prior to arriving in the park we knew nothing about it. It's is a 100 mile dirt road loop around the Island Mesa. We took it to the Gooseneck Trail. The little we saw was spectacular!

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