Friday, August 27, 2010

Leo’s, 60 Ottawa Ave NW - 8/10/10

Walk into Leo’s and you smell fish. Although there are alternative items on the menu, if you’re not a seafood fan, this is not your restaurant.

With an attractive bar to the left, the main dining area is very spacious. Last time we were here, we dined in the bar area and it’s a much more intimate setting. Although there are a few booths, the dining room on the whole is wide open. Decor is muted with light wood trim, an elevated black ceiling, and large windows. It’s classy but still has a dated feel to it. And the absence of diners is a little eerie and makes one feel somewhat conspicuous. To top it off, there’s piped-in light jazz music which immediately reminded us of the weather channel. Salt and pepper shakers were situated on the table, which is not a good sign.

Our server was attentive but distant, almost as if he disapproved of us; the attitude remained throughout, but he did bring us deliciously warm dinner rolls (unusual for lunch). We started with seviche: sea scallops, scottish king salmon, and halibut, served with marinated cucumbers, onions, avocado, red peppers, tomatoes, and fresh herbs. It was a lovely and tasty creation, with our only criticism being that it was slightly oily.

First main dish was the brazilian grilled shrimp: gulf shrimp (hard to believe) with spicy honey-herb marinade, served with harvest blend rice and fresh vegetables. All good except that nothing went into the presentation. It’s Sunday dinner at your Mom’s - each item just piled on your plate.

Our second dish was grilled alaskan halibut. The restaurant claims to receive its fish daily and we have no way of knowing whether that’s true or not. Along with the aforementioned rice and vegetables, the fish was served with roasted lemon vinaigrette and Mediterranean tapenade - really nice accompaniments but again, presented without any creativity.

The menu is updated by the week, and the online menu changes accordingly. As a nice final touch, your bill comes with two fish-shaped chocolates. Our tab was over $50.00 and we would recommend the bar atmosphere for a more enjoyable setting.
Leo's on Urbanspoon

Ichiban, 3005 Broadmoor SE - 8/6/10

This was our second visit and we tried the Chinese wing of the restaurant this time. It‘s a large room with about 16 tables and is very tastefully and minimally decorated; dark wood tables and chairs, and white table cloths. There was no one else is the room when we were seated. After about five minutes, the hostess seated another two people - right next to us.

The lunch menu offers fourteen different lunches at $6.45 and another seven items at $6.95 each. We began with crab wontons and they were brought to our table in less than two minutes. Obviously they were already prepared. But the filling was good and there was a lot of it. Unfortunately, we did not have plates on which to eat them.

Our hot and sour soup was brought next and although there was a nice addition of a dumpling in the soup, it was neither hot nor sour.

Ingredients for each lunch item are not listed on the menu. We chose szechuan pork for our first main dish and confirmed that we wanted this and our next dish to be spicy. They obliged nicely; jalapeno and red chili peppers covered both dishes

Our second selection was orange flavored beef. We’ve had this dish many times before and this was our least favorite to date. The beef appeared to be chicken and the deep-fried little pieces were light on meat and more like little fat chunks. But vegetables were nicely done and the spice level was perfect.

Our server was very polite and prompt, and menus are online. Although the ambiance here is quite nice, we enjoyed the Japanese food much more (see October 2009 Review).
Shanghai Ichiban Chinese on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Mexico’s Little Kitchen, 2747 Clyde Park Ave - 7/30/10

This is the old location of Lindo Mexico, which has moved into new digs near Studio 28. We dined here when it was Lindo and have yet to visit their new location. But today it was about MLK (that is how they refer to themselves). The owners also own a nearby grocery story.

The small restaurant is divided into two sections, separated by the entryway. On the left are four booths along the wall and three large tables. On the right are two small tables and three booths. The place has a nice tile floor but is otherwise decorated with typical Mexican restaurant decor. A Mexican game show was playing on the TV at a high volume.

The menu is large: nine appetizers, two salads, four soups, four enchiladas, a category labeled Mariscos offering seafood dishes, six Mexican platters, twelve Mexican specials, seven burritos, three fajitas, two chimichangas. You get the idea; it’s another very large Mexican restaurant menu. But this one has handwritten modifications and black magic marker cross outs on it.

Our server brought us tortilla chips and salsa immediately. The tortilla chips were double layered, quite greasy and very good, but the salsa was bland. When we asked for hot sauce to liven it up, it arrived when our main selections did, spicy salsa along with a separate dish of hot sauce.  

Looking for something different to start with, we picked the Southwest egg rolls. We knew it would be some Tex-Mex configuration but it was a taste treat all the same. The guacamole that came with it was excellent, and we ignored the accompanying bland salsa and ranch dressing.

Our first lunch selection was the taco dinner: three soft shell corn tortillas; one spicy chicken and two steak. The tortillas delivered were flour but they were great and  definitely home-made. Ingredients needed spicing up with the hot sauce, and the chicken taco paled in comparison to the steak tacos.

The second dish was carne asada. Ingredients: little chunks of steak simmered with tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, and onions. Fajita style was ordered and it was an excellent choice. It was good and “hot;” the flavors all blended well and were not overwhelmed by the jalapenos.

There were only a few people in the restaurant but we had to physically get our server when we were ready to go. Up until then, service was fine. Most items are below $10.00. There is no website so you’ll need to check it out in person.
Mexico's Little Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Daily Grill, 445 Ada Dr SE, Ada - 7/28/10

August, 2012 - the restaurant has re-opened, not as a Gilmore location, but as Chloe Elan.
On August 20, 2010, I read a notice that the restaurant will be closing at the end of the month. The future of the leased building is unknown but Greg Gilmore is planning on building a new restaurant on the adjacent 12 acres that he owns, sometime next year.
The oldest member of The Gilmore Collection, the former Thornapple Village Inn is an expansive restaurant located on the Thornapple River. It has a large outdoor deck and a small, beautiful bar. The main floor is divided into three rooms. The dark lower level has private dining/banquet rooms and a wine cellar. Wooden walls and large windows predominate upstairs and it’s a pleasant atmosphere.

The lunch menu is not online but there’s enough overlap with the dinner menu to get the idea. Fresh, local food is emphasized and the restaurant has its own garden.

We had tried most of the appetizers already on previous visits and therefore selected the PEI (Prince Edward Island) mussels. This beautiful creation consisted of lemon thyme butter broth, garlic bread, crushed bacon, and olive rocket salad (arugula & onions). Lovely to look at and even better to eat. Combined, everything worked perfectly and the toasted garlic bread provided much needed texture.  

Next up was the TBA: local honey smoked turkey breast, bacon, and avocado with red onions, organic greens, and basil mayonnaise on ciabatta. The idea was good but the individual parts could not be consumed at the same time. The avocado was a thick slice, arbitrarily placed at one end of the sandwich. There was no way the flavors could evenly combine.
Penne was the other selection: pasta, grilled chicken, artichoke hearts, shitake mushrooms, and asparagus with herbed bleu cheese sauce. It was a decent choice but the blue cheese sauce completely overwhelmed everything. The ingredients could be seen, but only bleu cheese was tasted.

Service was friendly and prompt. However, when asked to box up the second half of the sandwich, our server omitted the fries without asking or mentioning it. That, along with a ripped and frayed cloth napkin, was a little surprising at this otherwise nice restaurant.    
Thornapple Daily Grill on Urbanspoon