So I've filled in two big gaping holes in my eats scorecard late last week/this weekend. I've posted a few times about expectations, and how they can make a great resto seem only good, or the other way around (same happens to all of us with movies, music, etc). The following two visits are to places with rave reviews on this board.
Breadline was a stop after the convention center last week with a houndish coworker. I had the chicken and goat cheese sandwich while he got the reuben. We didn't share our sandwiches but mine was top notch. Though I think they could drop their prices slightly, I would still eat their with some regularity if I worked in the area. Too bad they're not open at least on the weekends. I did get the cold spicy peanut soup on a rec from the board, but when I tried it later, it left me sorely wanting. I thought that it would've been a good base for a thai peanut dish, but that's about it. Unfortunately, the fiance threw it out before I could share that idea with her. I also got a baguette, which I thought a bit thin and really not impressive in any other regard. So overall it lived to expectations, but just barely.
Then last night we went to Joe's Noodle House. One word: WOW.
For apps, we got the shredded radish w/hot sauce (A01). The vinegar and spices carried it well, and the crunchy radish stood up as a nice accompaniment throughout and even after the meal. We also got crispy and salty chicken (A27). I think this may be a new favorite of mine and would be dangerous if I could make it there more easily.
For the main dishes, I had Shredded Chicken w pickled cabbage (F29). What a dish. I didn't think it deserved the spicy rating (more on this later), but it was a nice delicate mix of chicken, a very very light sauce with a hint of vinegar, and of course the cabbage in small bits. It was almost a bit Germanic.
The fiance had the Calamari in Basil Sauce (F24). Again, what a dish. The sauce they make here is layered so intricately and masterfully that even though you can tell it's somewhat complex, it comes together as an extraordinary signature taste. I was envious of the color the dish had as well.
And so on the spices, though mine had a pepper sign and hers did not, hers was spicier - by a good measure. Hers had cut jalapenos mixed in during the cooking, whereas mine had whole miniature red peppers thrown in. As hopefully we all know, when the peppers are cut open, and the membrane/seeds can mix with the rest, the spice travels more freely throughout the dish. I've also never understood the whole peppers in any chinese resto (especially the americanized ones). These dishes are only spicy if you eat the pepper, and outside of this, the peppers add little but color and shape. Coming from more experience in Thai food, where spicy means what it says, that would be the one disappointment to carry through to Joes.
All in all, though, Joe's is on the list, and we've decided to take the fiance's stepmom ultra soon - she was raised in China (and travels there often for work) and might have some further insight for us. Breadline may not be visited by me for some time to come, but it lived adequately to expectations.