So we had a doozy of a time picking out an appropriate restaurant for graduation of the now DOCTOR Mrs. Joypirate. We needed a place that we hadnt been to before, that ideally was close to the Common, and where Dr. Mrs. Joypirate could find something she liked (no red meat, liked fish, but all fish in the nice restaurants appears to be prepared with leeks or pancetta or something else she dislikes), as well as her mother and aunt who dont go for anything too wild. We settled on the Ritz dining room after allowing everyone to peruse the menu online. Having never been and I saw no chowhound reviews, which made me a smidge nervous. It was pretty good all in all but you can definitely get more for your money elsewhere. We had a large enough party that we basically got one of everything. For starters I had the crispy sweetbreads, which I enjoyed even if they seemed a bit low-brow in terms of their prep (not a far cry from a veal cutlet). Father-in-law prefers his sweetbreads unbreaded and with a mustard sauce. In-laws lived & dined well in France for 15 years so theyve got informed opinions on these matters. Which brings us to the foie gras, which they pronounced very good with I believe strawberry compote. To drink we had a tasty Spanish wine, a 1996 Bodegas y Vinedos, very well cellared and at the noticeably correct temperature. Entrees came out and heres where I was a bit underwhelmed. The red meat dishes were fantastic. I had the lamb rib eye medium rare, served with a pile of bulgur (the grain, not the gangster) that Dr. Mrs. Joypirate thieved off my plate. Little slices of zucchini and some other veggies rounded out the meal nicely but the lamb sung in my mouth it was so tender and flavorful. Likewise the Beef Tournedos were sublime, with artichokes and asparagus, it too sang. However, the real disappointment was the red snapper that Dr. Mrs. Joypirate and her mother both had though its a tough call. I feel that Red Snapper and some other white fishes are best served very simply which it was and the problem is that when youre paying high prices its annyoing that you sort of feel like someplace like the Naked Fish or McCormick & Schmicks can do the exact same job with that piece of fish. Also, the red snapper came with an overpowering side of olive-relish, though the relish wasnt on the fish, you couldnt take a bite of the fish without getting a strong whiff of olives, which got in the way of appreciating the fish (though make no mistake, I have a crippling love of olives, but we were trying to taste the fish here). The scallops were apparently good but I didnt get a taste, as was the farm-raised chickens with morels. For dessert they do a good tableside show of crepes Suzette with a great Grand Marnier sauce that apparently holds up to the French versions (though those in attendance missed a trick theyve seen before of pouring the brandy down an orange peel cut into a spiral). I went with an Apricot Napoleon, which was good but the mail order Lithuanian Napoleon torte I recently received was a far better version of this. Dr. Mrs. Joypirate enjoyed her hazelnut praline/dark chocolate mousse concoction. The passion fruit soufflé was really impressive and Id make it a mental note to get it myself if ever to return, though preferably itd be of a different flavor.
In all Id say it was perfect for our situation but if it was just me and the Mrs. we probably could have found better places and had better meals. I think it was $533 for 6 people before tip w/one bottle of wine and a couple of cocktails. Id chalk this up to perfect place for entertaining easily impressed foreign visitors with un-adventurous palates. Also, the bathrooms here were amazing. I felt like James Bond every time I checked myself out in the mirror. They definitely win best bathroom award from me.
Oh, and whats with nice places like the Ritz & the Federalist not having cocktails lists of cool cocktails? I get the impression that maybe they think that its somehow down-market to invent a couple of cool fruity drinks. Just because its something you see at Pizzeria Uno doesnt mean they shouldnt do it, it means they should do it BETTER. Ahh well.
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