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Tuesday, April 05, 2011


Adios, Black and Tan Grille--and Some Thoughts on Red Meat

Parted ways with the Black and Tan Grille tonight on a slightly disappointing note. Took my wife there for what I hoped would be a special night out, the first time there in several years. The signature Black and Tan steak was tender, yes, but with little flavor. Ditto for my rack of lamb--there ought to be some kind of seasoning on it, in my view. Neither had the basic flavor I get when grilling meat even on a simple gas grill, not to mention what ought to be added with a little seasoning. Probably due to my lack of sophistication when it comes to red meat, of course.

Both dishes were rather cold. Mine was cold enough that I sent it back--it really wasn't very palatable at just slightly above room temperature. OK, it was medium rare, so it can't be flaming hot throughout--but it can be warm. I had just taken a little bite from two or three of the pieces of meat on my plate and expected to see all of my meal brought back after a few seconds of reheating. But after a surprisingly long wait, I received only a fraction of my meal back in a small bowl. The sections of lamb that I had sampled were apparently discarded. My three or four pieces of lamb were now replaced with one small, pristine piece.

The small bowl of hot au gratin potatoes was gone--I hadn't finished it (the tastiest part of the meal, frankly, and the only thing that was actually hot). The person who brought the food to my table said he had "refired" the vegetables also, but everything was still on the cold side. The veggies seemed cold, and the meat only marginally warmer. Instead of the large slightly warm plate my food had been on, it was now piled into a small, cold bowl. This was really surprising. I just stared at it in surprise for a while and tried to figure out what they were thinking. What happened to my food?

It was hard to cut the remaining food in the highly curved little bowl it was in, so I had to put it on the bread plate, but the whole thing made me frustrated that I had chosen to go there. The manager came by, astutely noticing I hadn't eaten much of the scraps they returned. I didn't want to complain but he probed. I finally asked what happened to the rest of the meal, though I wasn't really interested in having more uninteresting food at that point. I didn't want to say much about it--simply a misunderstanding, a little mistake, no big deal, but when you visit a place for the first time or the first time in years, that one experience is pretty much the only deal. Too bad.

Fortunately, they deducted the price of my lamb from the bill. I had about 3 bites of it. Didn't take it out on the waiter, who was fairly good, but I'm still just really surprised at how a classy place can fall so flat. at least this time.

While there, I learned that this will be the last week of the Black and Tan Grille. They are changing to an Italian restaurant, something "Vita," keeping the current chef. I hope they do well--and keep the food warm, please. They could also improve the decor. It's nice, but too dark, and the fully exposed 50W bulb right over the table is a poor illumination choice. Like the meat, it lacked appeal. I hope it's better when the lights come up on the new place. Italian? Sounds good to me. Let's give them a chance.

By the way, I got a nastygram recently decrying my taste in steak, arguing that I'm hopeless if I like a low-class place like Texas Roadhouse. So, to redeem myself, I tried some red meat at one of Appleton's classier establishments tonight. Sorry, but I would have been much better fed and happier at Texas Roadhouse. Yes, I know it's not the top end of steak, but it's always palatable, warm, and has a touch of flavor. I also like Lombardi's for steak, when someone else is paying. Sometimes less expensive places offer pretty darn good food without a lot of pretense. Bennigan's is another place like that. Yes, I like their food and have enjoyed my couple of visits there.

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