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Restaurants & Bars 13

i gave them another chance, and...CINCH

the delicious life | May 30, 200502:29 AM

My first time at Cinch was a miserable, frosty experience. The hostess was cold, our server was snobby and as slow as ice melting in the arctic. Even the temperature of the restaurant itself was cold and though I put on a sweater, I was hunched over and rubbing my hands together in my lap to keep warm. I don’t remember the food at all other than that it was very very expensive for *eh*. But like I always say, I won't completely remove a restaurant from my cache until I give it at least a second chance.

So when Cinch was a recent venue of choice for dinner with friends, I hesitated for two seconds, but then thought, well, it's been almost a year, so perhaps the staff has mellowed out, stepped it up in pace, maybe the food has improved, and the thermostat had been re-set. Everything else yes,has improved, but unfortunately, the food was still *eh*, if that. Details on the food follow and pictures on the link.

The kitchen sent us each an amuse bouche – a tiny stick of mozzarella wrapped like an eggroll and deep fried. Perhaps it was meant to be served that way, or maybe they were sitting at the pick up station too long before they were brought to the table because the mozzarella was rubbery, not melted, and the greasy eggroll wrapper was evidence of a somewhat bad fry-job. An amuse is always a thoughtful touch, but I’m glad we didn’t order and pay for something that tastes much better at TGi Friday’s.

We ordered appetizers. A few salads aren’t even worth mentioning. The carpaccio was supposedly a Kobe beef, but it didn’t taste like anything special, especially since there were too many other things thrown on top – mushrooms, peppers, greens, spices – that masked the flavor of the beef. Pepper-crusted hamachi carpaccio had potential from the description on the menu, but it too was nothing special. Again, too many other things on the plate that drowned even the relatively strong hamachi.

The ahi tuna tartar was an overwhelming mess. Cucumbers in a haphazard “design” on the plate, a pile of tuna, a mess of green things, and a few won ton crisps that suffered from a too-low frying temperature like the amuse, tossed onto the plate as an afterthought. The fairly sizable crabcake was presented simply with tiny piles of mache on either side. But it tasted sort of like gooey, gluey crab salad from the deli case dressed up in panko crumbs.

There was a rack of lamb at one end of the table. No lamb for me, but it was plated with a suspicious dark smear across the plate that made it look like it had been used as - I just can’t be nice about this - as toilet paper. Quite unappetizing.

New York Strip steak was unfortunate. Was the kitchen trying to hide something? A heavy sauce covered a thin, scrawny piece of meat and spilled all over plate. The meat must not have properly rested because its juices were gathering in a messy little puddle in the corner of the plate before it was even cut open. Perhaps calling french fries something as fancy as soufflé frites makes it okay to put only four or five on the plate. Unfortunate, indeed.

My sister enjoyed her miso-glazed seabass, though as commonplace as miso glazed anything is these days, it'd be tough to ruin something that's a pretty much just a formula. The fish was atop some sort of vegetable that was cooked in such a way that she couldn’t identify it. Eggplant should taste like eggplant. Lots of flavors in the dish, but lots of things, almost too much, going on atop the plate. The salmon was the opposite. Simply plated, but so simple in flavor that is was bland. The sauce that was meant to sit on top of the fish had fallen overboard. Too hasty of a walk from the kitchen to the table. This was one plate that definitely needed all the sauce it could get because the salmon was dreadfully dry.

The Jidori chicken (I now know that Jidori is a Japanese term that refers to free-range chickens) was stuffed with Brie and served with orzo. On cutting, the Brie was overly hot, and completely spilled out of the chicken, drowning everything else on the plate. The chicken was difficult to cut and eat, though it was tender. Whatever lobster flavor the orzo did have was lost to the cheese.

I’m not on a diet, nor am I vegetarian, but I absolutely love tofu. The Tofu Tasting was such a regretful disappointment. Two little seared blocks of tofu devoid of any taste were served with a miserable little mushroom eggroll, and a tofu cream on the plate. Certainly, tofu by itself is bland, but when prepared well, it can be amazing. I couldn’t believe I was paying $20 for something so small and so flavorless. At least it was true to its name - a taste of tofu.

My other sister ordered the pasta, which of course, we don’t usually expect a simple angel hair, tomato and basil to be amazing. But it was pretty damn far from amazing. The dish was barely warm, the pasta a little bit too al dente than pasta should be, the tomatoes and basil were fresh, but it didn’t taste like there was anything else on the pasta except olive oil. Not even salt. She plucked out the tomatoes, but left almost all the noodles i the dish. It’s okay to be somewhat mild when pasta is an accompaniment to a main dish. It’s even okay for pasta to be *eh” if you’re at Olive Garden and it’s only $7.95 for all you can eat. This sorry excuse for pasta was not okay in any way.

We didn’t order dessert. Thank god.


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