Last night a group of ten of us dined at Kitchen 233 in Westmont. It was everyone's first time there and we were all impressed!
We ordered lots of appetizers -- Kona Filet Mignon, the Scallop "BLT", Spicy Rock Shrimp, Thai Chili Shrimp, Shrimp Cocktail, the Spinach and Pear Salad, and lots of Caesars. The Kona Filet appetizers came out as chunks of tender filet, perfectly seasoned, with just the right Kona kick. The scallop BLT was several large, tender scallops accompanied by microgreens, ripe diced tomatoes, and chunks of applewood bacon. It was the perfect mix of flavorful but light, with the juicy, buttery scallops mixing well with the microgreens and tart of the tomatoes and the salty-sweet of the bacon. The Spicy Rock Shrimp promised a tempura batter, but more resembled some tempura-beer batter hybrid. Not a problem, however as they were delcious. The batter first crunched then melted in your mouth and had just enough spice to make the dish interesting, and the dipping sauce kicked the flavors up a notch. The Thai Chili Shrimp were four jumbo shimp, tender and with plenty of chili flavor, and the Shrimp Cocktail was several huge, fresh as could be shrimp. The Caesar salads were good, with decent portions and not swimming in dressing which is a pet peeve of mine that didn't happen here! The highlight of the starters for me, however, was the Spinach and Pear Salad. The brief description on the menu doesn't do this salad justice. I expected good -- I got AMAZING! I was presented with a plate heaped with spinach, topped with loads of candied walnuts, generous dollops of sweet, creamy, tangy goat cheese, and thick slices of poached pears. This was topped by a warm bacon dressing. It was incredible! I couldn't finish it but took it home and when I woke up this morning my first thought was "I can't wait to eat my leftover salad!"
For our entrees, several of our group had the Fire and Ice -- 8 oz. filet mignon topped with two lobster claws, accompanied by grilled asparagus, and topped with a bernaise. The filet was (again) very tender, seared on the outside and melt-in-your-mouth on the inside. The lobster claws were a touch overcooked, but when we brought this to our waiter's attention he immediately called the manager over who (with a smile and a sincere apology) took them back and then brought out new ones, perfectly cooked. The bernaise was smooth, but perhaps just a tad heavy on the vinegar; still, the flavor complimented the dish well. My husband had the grilled tilapia with pineapple mango salsa, which was excactly what one would expect -- sweet and tart, a great accompaniment to the grilled tilapia. A friend had the crab cakes (large, full of sweet crab) with a side of smoked mac'n'cheese (smooth, creamy, smoky, and flavorful) -- it is called "smoked" due to the smoked gouda which helps form the sauce. Both were super! I had the jumbo stuffed shrimp with lobster and crab stuffing in lobster cream sauce, with their mashed potatoes and haricot verts on the side. The potatoes were creamy, buttery, just enough salt, topped with chives -- perfect! The haricot verts were firm and buttery, again, just enough salt. I couldn't stop eating them to actually eat my shrimp! The only disappointment of the meal was my jumbo shrimp. Four shrimp in a Staub cast iron dish were topped with balls of lobster crab stuffing. The shrimp were not jumbo as promised, but were butterflied, perhaps to create the illusion of a larger portion. It may have been this butterflying that lead to the shrimp being overcooked -- they were a little tough, dry, and without much flavor. The stuffing, too, was dry and while I could make out the crab, there was very little lobster and very little flavor in general. The sauce was supposed to be a "lobster cream" but really was just a cream, heavy on richness but light on the flavor. This dish was the only flaw among everything we ordered.
For sweets, I had the chocolate souffle, served with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream and some strawberry slices. The souffle was well worth the 11 minute wait that the menu warned us about -- chocolately and sweet (but not overly sweet) with a nice crust and hot, melty middle. My husband and another diner had the upside down apple walnut pie and were raving about it!
The service was excellent. Our waiter was well-informed, friendly, attentive, but not overbearing. When we spoke to the manager he, too, was friendly and obviously trying his best to make sure all of his customers were happy. When a waitress accidentally spilled caramel on our of our group when placing the pie on the table, the manager apologized and took all of our five desserts off the bill, as well as offering to pay for the dry cleaning. The restaurant itself was done in dark woods and low-light, similar to the decor that is usually found in a steakhouse but more casual. It was elegant and cozy, but without becoming too formal. The dishes and presentation were stylish without being pretentious. Overall, we loved almost everything about this place and will definitely be returning!