Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Parkside Restaurant

I really can't express how disappointed I am in the Parkside. We were so excited when it opened within walking distance of our house but a couple of visits made it pretty apparent that it was not going to be a regular spot for us. The first time I went for lunch I got a dry, uninspired sandwich. Both the turkey and the bread was dried out and the olive spread was bitter. However, it was the first week they served lunch so I gave them a pass. Then tonight we went to dinner and I realized that it was just part of a larger issue.

I ordered the gumbo (which the menu warned had no okra) and received a bowl of soft rice in a thin broth with bits of shredded chicken and tiny wedges of sausage. I thought there was onions but not sure if there were peppers or celery, which is troubling in a gumbo. I had never seen gumbo served all stirred together like that. Normally it is a mixture of seafood, meat and some vegetables served over rice, not a thin soup.

After just a few mushy bites I bit into something hard. Really hard, it felt like a rock and clanked against my teeth. When I told the waitress, a second waitress (because I couldn't find our waitress at first) and then the manager, they all seemed completely unconcerned. The second waitress said she thought it must be a part of the sausage, but I have to say, I have never once found a rock in sausage before. The manager, when finally summonded, didn't even bother to apologize, just asking if I had saved the rock (I had daintily spit it out into a spoon and returned the whole mess to the "gumbo") and took it away. Our waitress finally did take it off the bill but still...rocks in mediocre soup? No concern from the staff? Not what I would expect from a new local business trying to stay afloat. It wasn't as if I was being rude or demanding, I just quietly pointed out what happened and the manager didn't even bother to make eye contact with me.

Matt didn't fare much better-his "Tuscan chicken" open-faced sandwich could be charitably described as a homemade french bread pizza (think chicken and peppers with lots of red sauce and covered in cheese served on thick, tasteless bread) and was served with an "antipasto" salad which contained what appeared to be long, flat Asian noodles and a creamy sauce. The sauce on the sandwich tasted like it came from the jar and the the 3 mushrooms we were told about were missing. Matt said the sandwich reminded him of something he would have made as a hungry teenager with leftovers from the fridge.

The food was amateurish at best, the staff apathetic and the menu is rather overpriced for what you get. I just didn't get the impression that the chef or the staff was very interested in or familiar with food which, for a restaurant, is pretty shocking. Perhaps the Parkside should refocus what they want to be a kiddy destination? a bar? a sandwich shop? a bakery? a market? a full service restaurant? because it is pretty clear they can't handle doing it all. I think what I was most surprised about was not the appalling food but their total lack of interest or care in their customers.

I love to support local businesses and I love our neighborhood but it is just not good. If you go there, I would recommend just sticking to drinks or the risotto cake which was bland, but not bad.

We are going to be taking all of our business to the delightful Hamilton Tavern where the food, staff and drink have all been top notch no matter when we've been there.

Parkside - Fine Food and Spirits on Urbanspoon

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Dark Chocolate Almond Granola

I am really not a cold cereal or granola person but even I enjoy this granola from Cascadian Farms. It has my favorite nut (almonds) and dark chocolate so it is not too sweet. Perfect for a morning on the go. I also am toying with the idea of using it in cookies or something, it is just that good. They also make some pretzel-peanut granola bars that Matt has been enjoying. All of their products are organic and available at most grocery stores.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Bertolli Oven Baked Meals

As people who know me know, the last 6 weeks or so have been rough as my beloved Grandfather has been in grave health. I haven't been cooking as much as normal. It is strange for me as I make 99% of what we eat from scratch. Lately I have relied a bit on the perfectly respectable Bertolli frozen meals for two. My favorites are the ones that you bake. They seem slightly saltier than homemade but they that bake up well and the pasta isn't soggy or sauceless. They are super easy and quick to make and as close to homemade as I've found in frozen entrees.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Jenny-O Oven Ready Turkey

Yesterday I tried the Jenny-O Oven ready turkey. It was with some trepidation but it really was much better than expected. For $70 (online, in store it is more like $30) you get a turkey in a specially designed bag that lets you roast a fully frozen turkey safely and as quickly as a fresh or defrosted turkey. In 3 hours we had a fully cooked 11-13 lb turkey. I have no idea how this works, but it does!

Very quick and easy to make
The meat fell off the bone-not a lot of carving needed
Tasty meat
Crispy skin
Doesn't need to be defrosted

A little pricy
Not quite as tasty or crispy as homemade (but still quite flavorful, especially the dark meat)
Can't be stuffed (but you can collect the pan drippings from the bag for gravy)

All in all, I don't think I'd be buying one on a regular basis because I roast a great turkey but the meat was tasty, it was very easy and we have lots of yummy leftovers I look forward to using up. I think it would be perfect for novice cooks, very busy cooks or those who have a hard time making a tasty, juicy turkey. And the "how to" video on the Jenny-O site is pretty funny.

Thanksgiving Blend by Starbucks Coffee

I recently tried Starbucks' Thanksgiving blend and it was pretty tasty and went with both sweet and savory foods, perfect for the holidays.

From the site: "Lush herbal accents of full-bodied Sumatra beans with the subtle spice and cocoa notes of Guatemalan beans from the famed coffee-growing region of Antigua."

I think it would make a great Thanksgiving hostess gift for a Starbucks lover.