A Change of Pace

Monday night we had our good friend visit us while she was in town for work. Our schedules allowed us for a one night meeting only and well what do you do at night…..eat freakin’ dinner!!! So now I’ve got to feed two pregnant women and where does one go for some quality food on the west side, the grill or the Cove. Read my previous review about that bad boy, yeah! So now I’m excited and hungry. We arrive and we’re starving. We get seated, open the menus and what the cotton candy is going on here? This place was famous for locally inspired cuisine with farm fresh ingredients and locally produced meats. There was like 17 different steak options, basic burgers, some pizzas and a few random other dishes. Rarely am I so uninspired by a menu, especially when I have had some of the best food around at Bonfire. I was literally depressed. So much that we actually packed it up and left. The girls were looking for a veggie meal and there was one weak pasta dish. When asked if they had other options, the server said they could “make whatever you want”. I can make whatever I want at home, I go to your restaurant to experience something special. Brutal.

And now for the highlight of the night. The Strange Restaurant in downtown. This is what quaint boutique dining is all about. While your strolling up to this place and you can look up from your ever important texting, you’ll notice a beautiful heritage house with a rustic wrought iron fence. And yes it is yellow. Inside is even better. It is a heritage house. Vintage oak floors still creak with every footstep, solid wood detailing, subtle lighting and period art work finish off this ideal setting. We were the second table there and that was it for the night. It actually made for an intimate dining experience. Our host/server was excellent. She was friendly and personable, took interest in some of our conversation and was attentive to the mothers-to-be.

Lucky for us Monday night they offer two prix fixe menus, one for $25 and one for $35. Similar to Wine and Dine time. These sounded incredible! Each offered the soup of the day, and two salads, two mains and two desserts. I opted for the $35 dollar menu, but traded salads with my girl. So the salad I had was a romaine Caesar and hot damn! I would say second best Caesar salad EVER! (I make the best, sorry) Done perfectly the way I like it. More like a deconstructed Caesar. Half a crisp romaine, a large piece of crispy pancetta, three large homemade croutons and a drizzling of the best Caesar dressing I’ve had. Unreal!!! I chose the rib eye for the main because that is the best cut of meat from the cow……….moooooo! Of course I ordered it blue and that is exactly what I received. Cooked perfectly. Now I have mentioned before that I’m not a big meat and sauce person but this onion and mushroom sauce was such a perfect complement to this rib eye. It actually enhanced the flavor of the meat instead of overpowering like some other “gravies”. It was accompanied with a delicious potato pave with baked cheese on top. It just melted away. And one of the biggest variety pack of veggies I’ve seen on a plate. There were snap peas, carrots, beets and spaghetti squash all cooked to al dente goodness. I was so involved with my meal it was like I passed out for 10 minutes and they used this dish to revive me. And dessert……….wow. A warm apple tart. You can’t go wrong with that. But this was beyond that box store rubbish and was just delicious. The dough was sweet and fluffy and encapsulated half of a perfectly baked apple. A dome of apple delight I called it. Served with some fresh whipped cream and that capped off a near perfect dinner. I was beyond impressed.

Her $25 menu consisted of the spinach salad that originally came with my menu. Sheespecially enjoyed eating everything (mad alliteration!!!). She loved the candied pecans and the substitution of goat cheese with asiago. And the dressing was phenomenal! Her main was a chicken curry. It was more like a thai curry. The sauce was so light, and airy but packed with flavor included curry and hints of citrus and coconut. The noodles were large, flat and delicious. Also tons of chicken that was moist and infused with the subtle flavors of the curry sauce. She had the same dessert and was also in love with that. I have a feeling she would leave me for that dessert………….hell I would! HA! Joking!

So needless to say the place is amazing. It was like when you were a child and you thought it would be so awesome to snuggle in a room full of kittens and puppies……….that was how this meal made you feel. Just warm and fuzzy inside. The ambience and vintage home just made you want to hang out all night and spend time chatting with your best of friends. It’s just has a relaxed refinement that true diners would understand. I am putting on my list of top surprises for the year so far.

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