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Restaurants & Bars 2

Swanky Bubbles

joypirate | May 25, 2005 01:06 PM

Went to Swanky Bubbles last Friday with a group of 8, sushi and champagne seemed worth investigating. Not my choice but overall reasonably tasty. Service started out a bit annoying as the place was completely empty when we arrived (6:30pm, with reservations) and only 6 of the 8 was already there. We were about 5-10 minutes late, but, since the entire party wasn’t there we weren’t allowed to sit. Honestly, tumbleweed was blowing across the dining room the place was so empty. And, whereas I appreciate this policy, it seemed a bit excessive for two separate hostess-like employees to mention it, particularly since we weren’t asking to be seated early or anything. Then, the general rudeness is actually formalized in print as the menu requests that you please honor their 90 minute seating policy. Fat chance of that. Things are served family style here so I think they assume that people will be in and out faster, but, having once worked a front desk myself I can tell you that generally you should count on between 2hrs – 2 ½ hours, especially when you cater to young people with a large drink list. In no case should that policy be printed, I think. Really, if you’re making money selling $11 champagne cocktails, why scurry people out the door? If it’s a slow night, you want to milk them dry, I’d think. Needless to say, we pitched a tent, told ghost stories and, as it would turn out, literally roasted marshmallows on the flaming fondue pot w/dessert. Oh yeah, and I later heard that they didn’t want to give us the reservation in the first place because they don’t take large parties between 6pm and 9pm or something equally ridiculous. Really, this place is in dire need of more customer-friendly management.

Food-wise I was a bit wary coming here because looking at the menu online a lot of the entrees looked iffy. There are things like chicken with orange-ginger-fish sauce, edamame gnocchi, wasabi potatoes; things that could be good, but things that could also go horribly wrong. For the most part, things went well. The style of the place sort of encourages sharing but we didn’t really share all that much, at least not with the other couples. Wife and I had the tempura onion rings which came with a dashi-like dipping sauce. Very tasty and the waitress (who was head and shoulders better than the front desk people) was correct in mentioning that they would be some of the best onion rings we’d ever had, might’ve been the best thing all night. We got sushi for the most part: the volcanic lobster roll was lobster, scallion, cucumber (always called ‘kappa’ on the menu), spicy sauce, sriracha & avocado. Too many flavors here and too much sauce. The lobster got lost. Also had the spicy tuna, much better, fairly simple. Had the yellowtail sashimi and the portion was a bit microscopic. The fish tasted very fresh, but it was an itty-bitty serving. Needed an entrée to round out the sushi so the wife and I went with one of the specials; crispy scallops with tempura vegetables and sticky rice. The scallops were great, fresh, flavorful, some sort of panko-type dusting on the outside, giving them some crispiness. Vegetables were fine, no big stand outs, also with a dashi dipping sauce.

They’re big gimmick is the champagne cocktail and they’ve got some pretty good ones. To start the wife had the Lick Me Lemon, which is Champagne, Ketel One Citroen, Cointreau, lemon juice in a sugar-rimmed glass. It was well balanced and not too sweet. I had a sake martini made with plum sake and plum vodka. Very good, nice non-sweet fruity taste. 2nd round wife had the Fizzy Vampire which was champagne, finlandia cranberry and chambord (don’t remember having a sip) and I had the Kampai, which was Kaori Umeshu plum vodka with champagne, not as good as my first drink but still fine. The drinks were good but pricey. They never specified what kind of champagne is used in the cocktails so one wonders if it’s even technically champagne they’re using, unless it’s like the Moet white star or something (the export brand designed on the French conception of the sugar-loving American palate, as I understand it).

For dessert we all split the chocolate fondue which comes with bananas, melons, pineapple, apple, bread cubes, tiny marshmallows, grapes, and some other fruits I’m forgetting. They light the little sterno burner when it comes out, and they light the chocolate as well, purportedly to let we the diners decide how much of the brandy/booze we want to burn off before we blow it out. Had a bottle of Guinness with dessert and they didn’t provide a glass, which is especially annoying with Guinness when it has that little nitrous-ball gadget in the bottle.

All the other couples ate about as much as we did. It all worked out to about $55 per person w/tip. I’d go back for a drink and a light snack but probably not for a full meal. It’s a pretty gimmicky niche but it might make a good date place or a good gift certificate for a couple.

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