Joined Nov. 27, 2006
2 years, 1 month ago
tgubbins's review for:
Just had a disappointing lunch at Malai. The green papaya salad was fine but the coconut cream pie has gone from good to bad.
Last time i had it, it had a coconut crust that was chewy and sweet, like a macaroon candy. The coconut custard had an exciting texture -- firm-yet-quivering -- and i appreciated their choice to top it with meringue rather than whipped cream. With a "tamarind" caramel sauce, coconut ice cream, and julienned strips of mango, the whole thing seemed tropical and fresh.
This time, the dessert tasted quite unpleasant, a combination of weirdly sour and overly sweet. The crust had lost its candied crisp edge. The custard seemed fakey-firm and gelatinous, and had no flavor other than sickly sweet.
The meringue was flat and almost mealy. The mango didn't seem fresh. The tamarind caramel sauce was opaque and clumpy - more like brown gravy than a true caramel sauce. The coconut ice cream was stiff and chalky.
Apparently their original chef Keith Cedotal has left, and co-owner Braden Wages is now in the kitchen.
I've been going around praising this dessert as something special, but I won't be doing that anymore.
3 years ago
tgubbins's review for:
I haven't been to Sushi Robata lately but I had a positive impression based on a pretty good lunch I consumed there a couple of years ago, coupled with a rave review from former DMN critic Bill Addison, who touted it as a place where Japanese natives go.
But Japanese natives weren't who I saw when i stopped in for dinner; there were a few tables of guys who looked like techie types, and some mixed couples. I got there right after Happy Hour - so my 3-ounce glass of cold sake cost $7 instead of $2. The server seemed nonplussed by my request to sit at the bar myself. "We don't have a bar here," she said. I think she thought I came to drink only, but it made me feel defensive about eating alone.
"Japanese peppers" were those seared peppers, sometimes called shisito peppers, which I've had in far better form at Nobu and Blue Sushi in Fort Worth. At Sushi Robata, it was 8 peppers to an order for $3, two skewers holding four peppers each. They seemed unskillfully cooked: slightly browned on the outside, raw in places on the inside. They were served on roughly chopped raw cabbage that I expected to be edible; but when i took a bite, it tasted skanky, as if it had been cut a long time ago and absorbed the odors and flavors of food nearby.
A standard tuna roll was amateurish. The proportion of rice to tuna was all over the map; one piece on the end had two overly large chunks of tuna with almost no rice at all. The seaweed wrapper was gummy, which I really HATE.
A vegetarian roll was mushy and the rice was warm, which was extremely unappealing. The roll felt sloppy and thrown together, and the seaweed was even more gooey and elastic than the tuna roll. Ugh.
A server asked why I didn't finish the tuna roll and I told her that it wasn't good. "Oh, sorry," she said with a smile, before presenting me with a full bill for $20 plus tip. To cap it off, they had Glee on the flat-screen TV and i was stuck watching Gwyneth Paltrow try to sing.
4 years, 10 months ago
tgubbins's review for:
stopped in on a recent lazy saturday afternoon and was thrilled to see a case of various gelatos from Talenti as well as a killer spumoni from Maggiano (best spumoni in town!). espresso was intensely flavored and expertly made (Napoli's staff includes a former Starbucks barista). loved the modest "canteen" personality of the place -- it had a real Northeastern feel. also liked that the owner was there, standing on a chair fixing a light; it felt like you were among friends. the menu says they have Neapolitan style pizza, spinach-artichoke dip, sub sandwiches, and pastas, so i'll definitely be going back to try more food
5 years, 1 month ago
tgubbins's review for:
had lunch on a low-key friday; we got there at 1:15 pm and the room was half-full, including a large party of 8 to 10 lady real estators.
we sat at a nice table by the window; the alternative, a booth, felt too "datey" for a boisterous dish session with a colleague
love the fabrication: the vestibule/waiting room has a sleek stitched-leather banquette with a velour rolled pillow; gorgeous blue-gray slate on floor and wall. dining room chairs had cool woven strips of leather - comfortable and pleasing to the touch
the waiter warned that "the food is family-style", which i guess means a side dish is too big for one person? we got five salad, vegetable, and pasta dishes and split them. it was just "enough". they also have entree-type things like chicken with collard greens or pork loin & cipollini onion
beet & roquefort cheese salad ($10) had red, golden, white beets cut in quarters and cooked until just soft. crumbles of blue cheese were soft and buttery. also had some mesclun-style mixed greens and the best part, crunchy, candied whole pistachios
arugula & lemon salad ($10) had lots. they used wild arugula but unlike some wild arugula, which can be scrappy and gnarly, these had enough green leaf to be tender. just the right amount of pine nuts (uh, maybe one pine nut per 10 arugula leaves)
buffalo tartare & smoked egg ($16) was like crostini: three oblong toasts topped with high, molded mounds of raw ground spiced bison meat. the meat was cool but not cold, with a peppery tang. where was the smoked egg: maybe mixed into the bison? the 5 house-made pickle slices on the side were dull and opaque. better pickles are the yummy crunchy bread-&-butter pickles from Tim Love's Love Shack in FW
ricotta cavatelli with smoked chicken & preserved lemon ($14) was listed under pasta side dishes. cavatelli is a rolled pasta made with ricotta similar to gnocchi in that it has cheese mixed into the dough. but the cavatelli, whose ridges made them look like fat maggots, was firmer and heavier than gnocchi. didn't get much smoke off the chunks of chicken but it was ultra-tender. nice artsy narrow white ceramic bowl
we also ordered brussels sprouts -- but while ordering, we asked about the mushrooms, and that's what the server brought ($12). no brussels sprouts. he disappeared for a spell so we ate the mushrooms and didn't bug him about the brussels. the mushrooms were a medley -- chopped cremini and hen of the woods mostly with a random shiitake or two -- and sauteed. it's one of their specialties and it was cool they didn't glop it with sauce -- they appear to have been sauteed in butter and served as is, but it was a little austere and lukewarm
complimentary house bread was four small round slices of very good crusty bread with moist, soft crumb, with a round of fancy butter sprinkled with crunchy kosher salt, all lined up on a rectangular slab of wood
we each got two cappuccinos which were of the "european" variety, meaning a small cup, maybe 6 to 8 ounces max. at $5.50 per cappuccino, that ended up being a grand total of $22 for cappuccino alone, and that felt like a rip-off
they often give you a gift when you leave; in this case it was a small packet of the housemade granola served at breakfast -- crunchy oats, pumpkinseeds, sunflower seeds, chopped almonds, very nice. i wish they served breakfast all day, they have some appealing baked goods, cereals, frittatas, and an eggs benedict with jumbo lump crab
they validate parking but, it being victory park, there was, sadly, plenty of street parking at 1 p.m.
lunch for two, including those outrageously-priced cappuccinos, was $88 (plus tip, we left 15%, woulda gone higher if it weren't for that brussels sprouts snafu). obviously, that's high for lunch, but for me, it was well worth it. for the most part, everything was impeccable. they're also offering a prix fixe lunch with three courses including dessert for $39 per person.