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Bacchante | Jul 26, 2004 03:10 PM

Has anyone had experience with this place in Arlington on Lee Hwy in the strip mall that also has Arrowine and Pastries by Randolph?

I had lunch there today and was distinctly underwhelmed. However, I'm willing to give it another try if it was due to poor ordering. The menue pushes "panini," and I know it is supposed to be New Zealand in orientation.

I started with shrimp bisque. Even though it had a nice level of heat (spice), it tasted somehow bland. At first, I thought maybe it was undersalted, but after a few more bites, I decided that it had more than enough salt. Whatever, it definitely needed something to make the flavors pop out. It tasted to me as if it was either the stuff that comes out of a can that some professional kitchens use to stretch out seafood soups and make sauces or else that it was simply the water used to boil shrimp, flavored with celery and onion and spice (as I do my shrimp-boiling water) and then with tomatoe paste added to get it to the right color.

I also had a steak and mushroom "Kiwi meat pie." This was made up of poorly-trimmed, tough, overcooked beef with mushrooms in a soggy pastry. The pastry would have benefitted by a brushing with oil inside to keep the juices--assuming there were any--from the filling from soaking into the pastry. Even the top pastry wasn't flaky. The predominant flavor was salt, with some funky mushroom taste coming through. As I am a wild mushroom fanatic and have eaten them all my life, I'm sure it wasn't that which put me off.

Any other experiences to make me reconsider eating here in the future?

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