We can’t all be winners
September 22, 2008, 10:46 pm
Filed under: Restaurant | Tags:

I suppose it was only matter of time before I found a dud restaurant. I had one super amazing meal, and one truly awful one.

Super Amazing: Haruki East

I’m not a very good judge of sushi. I know that the crap that you get prepackaged in cafeterias and grocery stores is crap, and most restaurant stuff is good. And I know not to judge contemporary-wacky-California-style sushi places by the same standards as more “Japanese” sushi places . And admittedly, I’m still not very good at telling the difference between types of fish; I just know that I like sushi. Given all of that, Haruki East redefined sushi for me!

When I saw that their menu didn’t have too many of those “crazy” modern maki rolls, and didn’t have much else on the menu besides sushi, I thought “Wow, maybe this place really cares about the fish in its true state.” I chose a nigiri combo. Brian was ordering a few kinds of nigiri, and the waitress said “We have otoro today, would you like some?” My eyes lit up and I told him he needed to get some! Neither of us had ever had toro. Oh man, it was beautiful. It was thick, redder than a piece of beef, and so buttery it looked it like it would slide off the rice as soon as you touched it. He only gave me half a piece. 😦 My nigiri was also yummy though. Too often, I’ve had nigiri where maybe they cut the fish too thick, or it was too chewy and I felt like I have to rip it apart with my teeth. But every piece I had was the perfect thickness and they were all extremely soft and tender. Rogue’s Morimoto beer was also a perfect pairing for the meal.

Oh, I also got a tuna-guacamole thing as an appetizer. It was a mild guacamole with chunks of raw tuna in it. It felt kind of decadent eating so much avocado & tuna. It was served with some spicy freshly fried tortilla chips for dipping, but I thought there was way too much seasoning on the chips. For dessert, we had coconut ice cream with fried bananas. It was so-so, but I was still high on toro so I didn’t mind. I want to go back, like every day, but I have so much more eating to do!

Depressing: 3 Steeple Street Bistro

Context: I had grand plans of spending all of Sunday making bolognese sauce and putting together a lasagna. (I’ve never made a classic lasagna) But then my sink broke, on a Sunday of course, and I didn’t want to dirty up a bunch of pots, pans, and dishes and then have to wash them in the bathroom or something. So I went out to eat pho on Sunday night. Monday I was in school all day and had no time to make that sauce, so I was forced – FORCED – to go out to dinner for a third night in a row. That’s how I ended up at 3 Steeple Street Bistro.

The restaurant has a very colonial New England-looking atmosphere. It was warm and reminded me of the Union Oyster House in Boston. I said it smelled like someone’s grandmother’s house inside – like pot roast and mashed potatoes. The menu isn’t too large, but it’s all over the place in terms of style. They had things like spiced Asian duck, seared tuna w/wasabi mashed potatoes, Cuban pork tenderloin, and Moroccan lamb stew – all on the same menu. That’s a little weird. Maybe I’ve been spending too much time in graduate school, but where is the cohesion here??? There were a couple of pasta dishes in the $12-$14 range, burgers for $10, but the dinner entrees were all around $20.

I originally wanted the “Persian style chicken pie with turmeric, cinnamon, saffron, and almonds” but they were all out. In a panic, I got the same thing Brian got: the cheap $19 prix-fixe menu that comes with an appetizer, entree, & dessert, all of which is already chosen for you and changes weekly. Today, it was bruschetta, steak tips with mashed potatoes, and bread pudding.

All three portions were all gigantic, so it’s a good deal. Unfortunately, the steak tips were not winners. It was funny because we both ordered the same thing, and our first few minutes of eating were in awkward, confused silence, until was able to laugh it off. First, they asked me how I would like the steak cooked, and I said medium rare. The meat was bland, tough and most of the pieces had no pink at all. I know it’s hard to cook steak tips to temp because of their size, but if you ask me then you should deliver! Second, sauce was a very bland mushroom-wine gravy. Tasted kind of like a watery marsala sauce. All of this was served over a giant bowl of mashed potatoes, and topped with 3 pieces of roasted asparagus. Third, the mashed potatoes were also weird. They were gritty and something tasted odd about them. And believe me, I really really love mashed potatoes. I fished out some very weird, semi-solid, globular masses from my potatoes. I debated a lot about what they could be. At first I thought it seemed like if you were making a roux sauce and forgot it about it, and you had chunks of hard floury dough in your gravy or bechamel. Then I decided it was more like when you bake potatoes or make potato skins, and the parts that are close to the skin get all hard and weird. I think that’s what it was. Maybe they make mashed potatoes by baking them first instead of boiling them? Whatever it is, it doesn’t work!

To be fair, the stuff on their bistro menu are not things that are on the regular menu, so maybe it’s just stuff that they’re experimenting with. But there are so many restaurants in PVD that I don’t have to go back to one I didn’t like for a loooong time, if ever.


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