Prime time

I received a sneak peek invitation for a preview dinner this week at the new Ocean Prime prior to the restaurant’s grand opening Thursday. Once again, I must say, my work does not suck.

Ocean Prime exterior

Ocean Prime resides near Keystone at the Crossing next to that funky split-personality bridge that crosses over into the Clearwater area. It’s in front of the Old Navy strip near Distinctive Diamonds and on the same side of the road as Maggiano’s. Valet parking is available if you need it.

Part of the Cameron Mitchell restaurant empire, the original Ocean Prime opened in Columbus, Ohio in 2006, and a handful of others followed soon after.

The first thing that occurred to me when I walked in was that perhaps I was a tad underdressed in my cotton sundress. Hubby was fine in his button-down shirt and dress slacks; most of the other folks in attendance were in suits and flashier attire. I was feeling a little conspicuous until I saw some young gal walk through in cut-off shorts and a beach top. Seriously. Can we possibly dumb down our already dismal fashion image any further, people?

one of the Ocean Prime dining rooms

Ocean Prime brings the swank with rich cherry furniture, classy textured stone walls and nifty boxed light fixtures. Servers (all men, from what I could tell) wear white jackets and black pants, and swarmed like bees. I know it was a dress rehearsal of sorts, but I’d venture to guess the floor staff might have outnumbered the customers.

We were seated on one of the main traffic aisles, which was fine because it allowed us to check out the food coming and going as we made our choices. Our server was a friendly chap who walked us through the intricacies of the menu with ease and authority. First things first. Drinks. There’s a fairly extensive wine selection here (bottles take up an entire wall in the Prime Room) and full bar service showcasing a dozen or so specialty cocktails. All handcrafted, of course. This seems to be the buzzword du jour when it comes to adult beverages. Oddly, we didn’t see any beer selections on the drink menu, although our server managed to rustle up a Sun King Osiris pronto when hubby asked if they carried any local beers.

the delectable Whiskey Clover

I was all set to ask for a glass of Shiraz when something called the Whiskey Clover caught my attention… Gentleman Jack, Hennessey, honey, fresh orange and lemon juice. Yes, please. Not my usual Maker’s Mark, but still damn tasty. Served in a martini glass, it kinda reminded me of the Seelbach Cocktail at Libertine. I spied a few other cocktails passing us by, including something called a “Berries and Bubbles” with actual bubbles frothing up over the rim of the glass. Not sure I’d want to drink something that looks like a bubble bath, but with Belvedere citrus, marinated blackberries, sour mix and a splash of brut, I could be persuaded without much protest.

Ocean Prime’s wedge salad

We skipped over the appetizers and split a wedge salad to start. This is one of my favorite summertime dishes. You really can’t go wrong with a wedge as long as the ingredients are good, and these were. Everything was snapping fresh and crunchy, and the dressing was nicely tangy. With slices of warm crusty sourdough from the breadbasket, it was a respectable prelude for what followed.

(We didn’t order any, but I should note that Ocean Prime offers some appealing raw bar selections, and the shrimp cocktails and seafood platters we saw flying out of the kitchen waft contrails thanks to a little dry ice in the dish. Great visual appeal.)

blue cheese-crusted KC strip

Hubby doesn’t like seafood, so I knew he’d opt for steak. And what a steak this was — a whopping 16-oz. Kansas City strip crusted with Maytag bleu cheese. This thing was massive, served with a half-head of roasted garlic and a sprig of rosemary as garnish. Hubby had asked for it medium/medium-well; this was more like medium-rare/medium and a little bloody for my personal taste, but he scarfed it down with no complaint. The meat was very tender (wet-aged, I believe the server said?) and I loved the bleu cheese crust on top.

OP crab cakes

Lots of things sounded great among the seafood options, but I finally settled on the jumbo lump crab cakes from the Chef’s Compositions (also available in a starter portion). They were gorgeous, two big broiled (not fried – yay!) mounds of meaty crab with very little filler, and a splash of sweet corn cream underneath. I also received a few stalks of asparagus that were basically unnecessary, and a little ramekin of tartar saucy concoction studded with fresh corn kernels. The corn and crab played nicely together, and it made for a tasty combination.

Parmesan truffle fries

On the side, we shared an order of Parmesan truffle fries that were perfectly crispy and delish. Hubby said he still thinks the pomme frites at Taste are better, but I’m not so sure. These spuds made a pretty impressive showing. The jalapeno au gratin potatoes are on my radar for a follow-up visit.

We couldn’t leave without dessert, a list heavy with time-tested traditional steakhouse crowd-pleasers like blueberry cheesecake, crème brulee and chocolate cake with handspun ice cream. Having never tasted baked Alaska before, I figured this was a good opportunity to give it a whirl.

Baked Alaska

The portion size was intimidating, a ginormous frozen slab of pound cake, ice cream, raspberries and marshmallowy meringue. Wow. The chocolate syrup underneath was just ok, but the fresh raspberry coulis really sang. There was no way we were finishing this puppy, though. After a few bites, we groaned and conceded defeat.

Service was attentive down to the tiniest detail. I know it was a training night, but it was almost too much at times. At one point, I think three different people stopped by our table within five minutes to ask how everything was.

Ocean Prime is a high-end dining destination, and prices are on the steep side, as you’d expect. We enjoyed our meal very much, but I have to wonder just how many upscale steak-and-seafood establishments Indianapolis can feasibly support. OP faces some stiff competition right in the neighborhood from Sullivan’s, Fleming’s and Ruth’s Chris, not to mention Peterson’s just up I-69 and all the downtown heavy hitters. For me, St. Elmo’s is still going to be the sentimental favorite when I’m in the mood for a good steak and shrimp cocktail, but I have a feeling Ocean Prime is definitely poised to make some waves here in Indy.

For more info:

www.oceanprimeindy.com

Ocean Prime on Urbanspoon

St. Elmo's still delivers

I love St. Elmo’s Steak House. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve actually ever eaten there mind you, but I love it, and the twice-yearly Devour Downtown promotion makes a great excuse to get on down to this granddaddy of Indianapolis dining establishments.

I took my dad to the venerable St. E’s on Saturday night under the pretense of doing research (I got a freelance gig that covered my meal if I was willing to write a report about it and take a few photos). Dad and I hit up St. Elmo’s for Devour Downtown two summers ago as well, if memory serves…

My dad is sort of funny about this sort of excursion. After all, this is a man who enjoys the weekly $1.99 country-fried steak special at KFC without fail and thinks it’s a great meal. To him, any dinner that costs more than about $10 is terribly extravagant. He admitted he didn’t just think he could enjoy eating at St. Elmo’s at regular price. And he’s right, it is expensive, as upscale steakhouses by nature are. Then again, it’s not like we’re eating at these types of place every week. In my book, a $30 three-course meal at St. Elmo’s once or twice a year is a STEAL, and an opportunity well worth taking advantage of.

We didn’t make a reservation during our previous visit and lucked out by just showing up around 5 p.m., getting seated right away. This time around was a different story. Hindered by bad weather, downtown construction and tons of traffic, we rolled in the door around 5:25 p.m. and were told we could expect an hour and a half wait before getting any sort of table. Ugh. Our lucky stars were shining on us again, though, and we were able to immediately snag a bar table from a couple who were in the process of vacating. Unknowingly snatching it out from under another pair, who proceeded to fix me with the evil eye for the ensuing hour, even though they got the table right next to us within a matter of minutes.

The bar scene at St. Elmo’s is actually pretty trendy and happening in spite of its old-school rep, but it did not make a great spot for dinner with pops. My dad has trouble hearing to begin with and all the loud ambient noise precluded any effort at dinner conversation. Our attempts at reading each other’s lips failed miserably, and we resigned ourselves to eating our meals while watching some golf tournament on the flat-screen TV over the bar.

On the upside, the food was fantastic. For $30, the Devour Downtown menu provided us each with a shrimp cocktail, filet mignon with red-skin mashed potatoes and garlic green beans, and a dessert. Everything is a slightly smaller portion than you usually receive, but still more than enough to fill you up. In fact, I took a few bites of steak and green beans home with the intention of assembling a kick-ass black-and-bleu salad for lunch the following day. (Alas, hubby intervened…)

The cocktail contained three HUGE succulent pieces of shrimp buried under an avalanche of St. Elmo’s signature blow-your-head-off horseradish sauce. Can’t speak for my dad, but my steak was perfectly cooked to medium-well just the way I like it, and tender like butta. Yum. Yum. And yum.

St. E's filet mignon

Dessert was perhaps the only slightly underwhelming part of the meal. My slice of cheesecake was rich and delicious and the accompanying raspberry coulis garnish tangy and fresh, but my dad’s crème brulee wasn’t all that. It was just a tiny custard cup with a barely-caramelized crust. Instead of that satisfying crack you get when you sink your spoon into the first bite of a really good crème brulee, this one only offered a few blackened spots on the surface, much like the cheese bubbles on a pizza. Eh.

Adding up the bill, we spent around $90 all in – two dinners, one glass of wine for me, tax and tip. Great value in my humble opinion, considering you can easily spend this much per head there any other time of year.

So what’s your vote? St. Elmo’s – hotspot that’s held up over time, or just plain over-rated?

For more info:

http://www.devourdowntown.org/

http://www.stelmos.com/home.html

 

 

 

 

 

St. Elmo Steak House on Urbanspoon

St. Elmo’s still delivers

I love St. Elmo’s Steak House. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve actually ever eaten there mind you, but I love it, and the twice-yearly Devour Downtown promotion makes a great excuse to get on down to this granddaddy of Indianapolis dining establishments.

I took my dad to the venerable St. E’s on Saturday night under the pretense of doing research (I got a freelance gig that covered my meal if I was willing to write a report about it and take a few photos). Dad and I hit up St. Elmo’s for Devour Downtown two summers ago as well, if memory serves…

My dad is sort of funny about this sort of excursion. After all, this is a man who enjoys the weekly $1.99 country-fried steak special at KFC without fail and thinks it’s a great meal. To him, any dinner that costs more than about $10 is terribly extravagant. He admitted he didn’t just think he could enjoy eating at St. Elmo’s at regular price. And he’s right, it is expensive, as upscale steakhouses by nature are. Then again, it’s not like we’re eating at these types of place every week. In my book, a $30 three-course meal at St. Elmo’s once or twice a year is a STEAL, and an opportunity well worth taking advantage of.

We didn’t make a reservation during our previous visit and lucked out by just showing up around 5 p.m., getting seated right away. This time around was a different story. Hindered by bad weather, downtown construction and tons of traffic, we rolled in the door around 5:25 p.m. and were told we could expect an hour and a half wait before getting any sort of table. Ugh. Our lucky stars were shining on us again, though, and we were able to immediately snag a bar table from a couple who were in the process of vacating. Unknowingly snatching it out from under another pair, who proceeded to fix me with the evil eye for the ensuing hour, even though they got the table right next to us within a matter of minutes.

The bar scene at St. Elmo’s is actually pretty trendy and happening in spite of its old-school rep, but it did not make a great spot for dinner with pops. My dad has trouble hearing to begin with and all the loud ambient noise precluded any effort at dinner conversation. Our attempts at reading each other’s lips failed miserably, and we resigned ourselves to eating our meals while watching some golf tournament on the flat-screen TV over the bar.

On the upside, the food was fantastic. For $30, the Devour Downtown menu provided us each with a shrimp cocktail, filet mignon with red-skin mashed potatoes and garlic green beans, and a dessert. Everything is a slightly smaller portion than you usually receive, but still more than enough to fill you up. In fact, I took a few bites of steak and green beans home with the intention of assembling a kick-ass black-and-bleu salad for lunch the following day. (Alas, hubby intervened…)

The cocktail contained three HUGE succulent pieces of shrimp buried under an avalanche of St. Elmo’s signature blow-your-head-off horseradish sauce. Can’t speak for my dad, but my steak was perfectly cooked to medium-well just the way I like it, and tender like butta. Yum. Yum. And yum.

St. E's filet mignon

Dessert was perhaps the only slightly underwhelming part of the meal. My slice of cheesecake was rich and delicious and the accompanying raspberry coulis garnish tangy and fresh, but my dad’s crème brulee wasn’t all that. It was just a tiny custard cup with a barely-caramelized crust. Instead of that satisfying crack you get when you sink your spoon into the first bite of a really good crème brulee, this one only offered a few blackened spots on the surface, much like the cheese bubbles on a pizza. Eh.

Adding up the bill, we spent around $90 all in – two dinners, one glass of wine for me, tax and tip. Great value in my humble opinion, considering you can easily spend this much per head there any other time of year.

So what’s your vote? St. Elmo’s – hotspot that’s held up over time, or just plain over-rated?

For more info:

http://www.devourdowntown.org/

http://www.stelmos.com/home.html

 

 

 

 

 

St. Elmo Steak House on Urbanspoon

Aix marks the spot

Our week here in Provence is flying by. It’s time to start thinking about packing for our departure to Germany on Monday — on the move once again!

I think if pressed, I’d have to say my favorite thing about Aix, and about Paris and the whole of France in general, would have to be the street markets. For starters, the food products are the most beautiful versions I’ve ever seen anywhere, and they taste absolutely as good as they look.

Aix street market produce stand

 

The best meals I’ve had all week have been composed of stuff I’ve bought at the markets. Salads made with picture-perfect produce so fresh, it snaps with every bite. Farm-fresh eggs with creamy bright yellow yolks scrambled with a little cheese and served alongside steaming coffee and a croissant. Yum, yum, yum. Food just doesn’t get simpler or more flavorful than this.

the most stunning salad ever

The street markets happen nearly every day in one spot or another around town, and each I walked through was better than the last. Not that the first was any slouch, but the second and third I saw put it to shame. Some markets seem to focus on one specific theme, i.e. flowers, clothing, antiques, food and the like. You might also find booths tucked in here and there selling odd stuff like cosmetics, toiletries, purses, kitchen utensils, those weird little head-scratcher devices, and more.

Obviously, the food markets are the ones I’ve been most taken with. Just imagine gorgeous row after row of the cutest sweet-as-candy tiny strawberries, vats of olives large enough to swim in, all manner of charcuterie, mouthwatering fresh baked Madeline cookies, and fragrant roasting chickens. The most intriguing booth I saw held a huge array of every kind of spice imaginable, all beautifully displayed in little square bowls, plus huge bowls of colorful peppercorns and salts. The vendor scooped out small portions of whatever you wanted, weighing each before packaging in a little plastic sack or little glass jar like some sort of mad scientist amid a chemistry experiment. I could have stood there for an hour just reading the labels on each spice and smelling its wonderful aroma. For foodies like me, it was the best perfume counter in the world.

spice vendor at Aix street market

The food at the local supermarkets isn’t nearly as nice as what you get at the street markets, in my humble opinion, although there is a pretty decent gigantic superstore a ten-minute bus ride away from our hotel (not nearly as nice as the Iper store in Milan). When we originally asked the concierge about where to find a grocery store, she tried to direct us in not-so-comprehensive English and kept mentioning a casino. Naturally, hubby and I assumed she meant the store was located near a casino. It was only after a small level of frustration we realized that the name of the grocery store chain is actually “Casino.” To make matters even more confusing, there IS an authentic casino as well on the bus line downtown. Eventually, we got it all sorted out.

I attempted to attend three ex-pat coffee meetings this week. I actually made it to one. Couldn’t find the café for the first one for the life of me, even with spotty consultation from hubby’s iPhone GPS app. The toddler and I did make it to the second, mostly thanks to having prescouted the location earlier in the week – the adorable restaurant called Croquemitoufle. The crowd hovered around 15, I’d say, and two women there had Indiana connections — one hailed from Elkhart and another was born near Ft. Wayne. It was interesting to chat with some fellow Americans, but we didn’t really have enough time to get into much in-depth discussion. Mainly because I’d forgotten the buses were running on a holiday schedule that day and by the time I actually caught one to go downtown, we’d already missed half the event. Anyway, the women I met were lovely, although the two I really had the most opportunity to chat with both sound like they will be heading back to the states sometime next year. Boo!

The third coffee was this morning, but we missed it because we decided to take a daytrip instead. Hubby, the toddler and I caught the bus to Marseille to take a walk around the Vieux Port (Old Port) and have some lunch. And what do you think we found? More markets! Fish and flowers, to be precise. We arrived late morning and I have a feeling we missed the majority of the action, but there were still plenty of fishermen and women lined up selling their catches, many still wriggling in their water tables. The fish, not the men and women… The fish stands lined one side of the port; another side was full of exquisite (and cheap!) fresh flowers of all shapes, sizes and shades.

Marseilles market tulips

Marseille is the oldest city in France, and it shows its age. It’s scrappy in much the same way as outer Milan is scrappy; the buildings are old and many are graffiti-laden and in need of some serious repair. The port itself is pretty and there’s a breathtaking big castle up on the hill overlooking the city, but off the beaten path, things are pretty dirty and dilapidated. The sight of laundry hanging off the balconies galore lent a touch of charm and color.

sunny Marseilles

I had intended to seek out a bowl of the signature Marseillaise dish, bouillabaisse, but we really didn’t come across any cafes or bistros serving the garlicky, brothy fish stew that looked appealing during our very abbreviated visit. I settled for an unsatisfying open-faced bruschetta that was really nothing more than a saucer-sized piece of bread topped with sliced tomatoes and a mountain of cheese, then run under the broiler until not quite toasty. Hubby thinks I’m complaining all the time, but this really was mediocre for seven euros.

We scored much better with this evening’s meal. After a bus ride back to Aix and a long walk through the oldest section of town, we worked up an appetite to shop for some hearty meat and potatoes. Hitting up the specialty stores along Rue D’Italie, we came away with two ruby-red slabs of faux filet (American equivalent = New York strip), potatoes, broccoli, mushrooms, a baguette and wine. Cooking on our miniature two-burner electric stove using one pot and one pan, I somehow managed to transform these items into a Provencal-ish meal that I daresay was as good as you’d find in some of the local bistros. Seared steaks with garlic butter and blue cheese crumbles, mashed potatoes with crème fraiche, steamed broccoli and mushrooms topped with a sprinkling of cheese, slices of fresh crusty baguette — is there anything more fulfilling than eating something that turns out to be EXACTLY what you wanted, and having it be every bit as good as you were hoping it would be? That was tonight’s meal for me.

And on that note, I bid everyone a fond bon soir.

14 West, not the best

Yesterday, hubby and I were recounting all of the Valentine’s Days we’ve shared thus far. Last year, we were in Paris — that’s going to be a hard act to top. Ever. Year before that, I was 8 months pregnant and laid up on bed rest. Neither of us can remember what we did the year before that, but for our first V-Day as a married duo (2006), I cooked a lovely candlelit dinner at our little rented cottage in Sonoma. We weren’t physically together for Valentine’s Day the year we were dating. I was in Indiana and hubby was in Germany, but I seem to recall he sent me some books for the occasion.

So that gets us up to speed. We weren’t sure we’d even have a chance to do anything romantic this year, between getting toddler-care squared away and hubby having to work at some sort of motorcycle trade show downtown at the convention center this weekend. Lo and behold, the daycare where the toddler attends offered a babysitting service last night courtesy of a Girl Scout troop trying to raise money for a trip this summer. Sold to the man without the hat! Hubby pledged to knock off work by 5 p.m. and date night was on like Donkey Kong.

I started thinking about dining options, worried that we might have trouble getting in somewhere nice, what with the trade show going on and the fact that it was Saturday night on Valentine’s Day weekend. My original idea was to hit Tastings, a relatively new wine bar located in the swanky Conrad Hotel. However, hubby and I knew we would want a full meal and it looked like they only served cheese plates, so that was out.

I’d wanted to try 14 West for a long time, and an online search discovered they had a special menu this weekend. Perfect! When I called, the only reservation times open were 4 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., both well outside of the babysitting window. Hmph. I put my name on a wait list and figured if all else failed, maybe we could eat at the bar. As luck would have it, I got a phone call around 3:30 from the hostess saying she’d had an opening at 6 p.m. I figured I must be livin’ right and quickly claimed it.

Hubby agreed to meet me in the 14 West bar at 5:30. I changed outfits about five times (hubby told me to wear something “hot”), packed up the little man and we were off. Right on time, I had just parked the car in one of the Circle Centre lots and was locking it up when I got a text. “Running late, just got called into a meeting.” Great. I texted back to ask how late and walked on up to the restaurant. With my hand on the door, hubby replied “45 minutes.” I nearly burst into tears, seconds away from spinning on my heel and calling the whole evening quits. Fortunately, hubby then called as I was on the verge of meltdown to tell me it was just a joke and he was waiting for me at the bar. Whew. Crisis averted.

14 West was hopping, obviously a popular spot. It’s pretty upscale, the décor is fairly romantic and hubby looked very dashing sitting at the bar. (My heart went pitter-patter all over again when I caught sight of him.) We enjoyed a drink – Stella Artois for him and a fragrant glass of Riesling for me — and chatted warmly for a cozy half an hour. The bartender was very friendly and had a wonderful laugh. I had high hopes for a lovely meal.

At 6 on the dot, we got up to claim our spot – a very wide table tucked into a corner upstairs in a crowded, noisy room. Hubby and I felt miles away from each other, but our table was nearly jammed flush with the one next to us. It was almost like we were on a date with the people sitting next to us instead of each other! Intimate conversation was a little difficult to achieve, but no matter. We settled in and turned out attention to the menu.

Our waiter, who we’ll call Brandon (because that was his name) seemed pretty stressed; we overheard him explaining to our fellow compadres next door about how many tables he had to take care of and how busy they were that night. Um. Yeah. Not what you want to hear from your waiter immediately after being seated. This didn’t bode well. Still, Brandon managed to get us our drinks fairly quickly and explained the steak frites appetizer in detail when hubby asked, but didn’t give us any schpiel about the special menu. We placed our order and waited. And waited. And waited…

We didn’t order anything complicated, two entrees and a Caesar salad for the hubster. I really wanted to try either the lobster mashed potatoes or the lobster mac and cheese, but the side servings looked huge and I knew my seafood-hating hubby wouldn’t have pitched in to help. A hostess with huge boobs brought us a couple warm pretzel rolls in the meantime, which we devoured in about two seconds. Thirty minutes later, we’d watched Caesar salads flying around the room to every table but ours. Brandon finally came by to let us know our entrees were on the way and got flustered when hubby asked about the status of his salad. Hubby told him if it was coming out as the same time as the entrees to just forget about it. So he did.

Entrees arrived a few minutes after. The food was delicious – hubby got a steak with steamed vegetables on the side. Nothing terribly fancy, but he said it was good. My meal was a nicely cooked piece of Chilean sea bass on top of risotto with some wild mushrooms and a basil sauce. It tasted great, but the serving size seemed a bit scant for $36 or whatever we paid for it. Also, when I took a bite of mushrooms, I felt something in my mouth that didn’t seem right and proceeded to fish out a dime-sized piece of cardboard. That was somewhat alarming. I’d already eaten half my meal by that point, so I went ahead and finished it, hoping I wasn’t in for some sort of delayed-reaction contamination.

Brandon finally came back to check on us and I pointed out the cardboard. He apologized profusely, promising to bring it to the manager’s attention. A short while later, he returned to let us know they were going to comp us two desserts, which we would have ordered anyway, so that worked out pretty well. I did find it a little off-putting that he didn’t let us select the desserts we wanted, instead just telling us which two they were going to give us. But hey, it was on the house, so whatever.

To Brandon’s credit, the desserts arrived fairly quickly – an individual cheesecake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and chocolate drizzle, and a slab of chocolate mousse cake with another scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side, this one rolled in an addictively crunchy praline coating. Both were yummy. We polished off the cheesecake, but the chocolate cake was so rich, we could only manage a few bites. That’s saying something – I usually have no problem tackling the most decadent of chocolate desserts, but this was too much even for me.

By this time, we really needed to get going in order to pick up the toddler on time. Brandon dropped off the check, but then kept passing by our table without picking up my debit card. I tried unsuccessfully to flag him down three or four times before getting pissed off. We finally just stood up to leave and handed him our payment on the way out, standing in the hall while he ran my card. Even with the comped desserts and the subtraction of one of hubby’s Stellas, the bill still topped $100.

I realize Brandon was extra-busy and stressed, but still. There’s no excuse for lackluster service at a restaurant of this caliber, especially on a special occasion like Valentine’s Day. I tipped 10 percent; an amount hubby and I felt was extremely generous, all things considered. The food was great (well, apart from the cardboard) and the ambiance was nice, but overall, the 14 West dining experience was something of a letdown for us. And served as a reminder why we don’t tend to frequent upscale restaurants very often – too much pressure and too many high expectations that can fall short. When we’re paying that kind of money, we expect things to be pretty much perfect, and they rarely are. (St Elmo’s is one of the few spots that really delivers in this capacity.)

In retrospect, we figured we probably would have had a much better experience just eating at the bar like we’d originally intended. Live and learn. It was still great to get dressed up and meet my handsome husband out for a real date, so in that sense, it was definitely a happy Valentine’s Day.

Whole latte love

Before I begin, I must mention that along with an outstanding continental breakfast spread, our hotel makes the most beautiful cappuccinos you’ve ever seen. Seriously. As my husband says, they are latte art! Coffee here is serious business. I think hubby’s probably going to cry when he has to return to the watery espresso of Indianapolis as compared to the real-deal Italian version.

cap

the most perfect cappuccino ever!

Lots to report from the past few days, but not much food-related! After Thursday night’s dinner and gelato, I awoke Friday feeling like crap. My tummy is still trying to figure out just what the hell I’m trying to put it through and decided to stage a major revolt. Perhaps not coincidentally, I realized that the two times I’ve felt ill on this entire trip have been after eating gelato. Alas, no more of the frozen concoction for me. I’m not really a frequent ice cream eater anyway, so guess I’ll just go back to the occasional Haagen Daz at home.

So, my breakfast Friday morning consisted of hot peppermint tea. For lunch, I shared a few peanut butter crackers with the toddler and ate a pear. I felt somewhat recovered by dinner time that night, which was a quick crudo/mozzarella sandwich at hubby’s trade show and the rest of the fresh fruit cup that the toddler didn’t finish. Still not sure exactly what crudo is, will have to research. It’s like a super-salty meaty proscuitto kinda thing. You find paper-thin slices of it in sandwiches and salads and such; like bacon, a little goes a long way for flavor.

Speaking of the trade show, we got an opportunity on Friday to check it out and see just what hubby’s been up to all week. The EICMA show took place at Fiera Milano, a HUGE-ass convention center. This event was enormous – something like 18 full-size pavilions bursting at the seams with all things motorcycle. TONS of people (mostly men, surprise, surprise) everywhere. Supplies, equipment, racing schwack, the bikes themselves – it was absolutely overwhelming. The toddler and I took a cab to the show and somehow managed to locate hubby’s exhibition stand amid the chaos. It was seriously something to see and I’m glad we went to understand what all the fuss was about. The toddler had a blast running up and down the aisles; he was so excited by all the lights and noise and motorcycles, I thought his little head would explode.

A quick tangent – It’s interesting to note the difference between public reactions to the toddler here and in Germany. Last week, people didn’t really pay him much mind, with a few exceptions here and there such as the kind Asian gentleman at our hotel. Here, he is a total rock star. Nobody looks twice when he makes a high-pitched squeal in a restaurant. In Germany, I was half-expecting someone to ask us to leave when that happened. Women fawn all over the kid in Italy (even more so now that we’ve taught him to blow kisses on command). He’s got the female staff at the hotel absolutely wrapped around his little finger. Even at the trade show, people we didn’t know were smiling at him and taking photos of him sitting on the bikes. It’s all very sweet, really.

Saturday was perhaps the best day I’ve had here in Milan. I have to say, Milan did not make a good first impression on me, but I’ve slowly warmed up to it within the past few days. It’s kind of a hard place to get used to right off the bat, but after a week, I feel like I’ve sorta gotten the hang of how things work. A little bit anyway. I actually gave someone on the street instructions on how to find the right tram line yesterday! In English, mind you, but I still knew the answer!

Got up yesterday and headed out on our daily walk. On a whim, I decided to give “The Last Supper” one last go. The toddler and I were never able to board the tram line that would have taken us to the nearest stop, so we just boarded the one we’ve been riding to the Duomo all week, got as close as we could and walked the rest. As it turned out, this was a happy accident. The section of town we strolled through to get to Santa Maria Della Grazie was the most beautiful area I’ve seen all week.

We got to the church at 11:45 a.m., I entered the ticket office and crossed my fingers. I told the man behind the desk that we didn’t have a reservation, but wondered if there might be any cancellations this weekend. I don’t know if he was being honest, or if he merely cut me a break because I was pushing a stroller all around downtown Milan, but he hooked me up with a ticket for a viewing at 12:15. SCORE! I was thrilled! And it was just enough time to feed the toddler some lunch, another bonus.

Small groups of around 25-30 people are allowed to view the painting in 15-minute increments throughout the day. They keep things moving on a strict schedule; at five minutes prior to your allotted time, they call you in. Visitors are herded through two vestibules on the way in with doors that keep each crowd self-contained in one small space at a time. Finally, you enter THE room.

The painting is huge – 15 feet by 30 feet, I believe – and takes up an entire wall of what was once a church dining hall. There is now nothing else in the room, with the exception of a couple benches and another huge painting of the crucifixion opposite “The Last Supper.” All the focus is on the art. The painting is massive, and honestly, breathtaking. A docent gave a little narrative about it in several different languages, all of which I missed as I was keeping an eye on the toddler, overjoyed at being allowed to run free for a few minutes within the closed room. On the way into the church, I was furious to realize that my camera battery had gone flat, but as it turned out, it didn’t matter. They are deadly serious about not allowing any photos inside. A Japanese man kept trying to sneak one in, and they busted him every time. On his last attempt, a big booming voice came over an unseen P.A. system announcing “NO PHOTO!!!” I about jumped out of my skin; it was like an edict from God. I kept looking around for armed guards to storm in and take the poor man away.

After 15 minutes, you’re ushered out again and that’s that. It really isn’t enough time to take it all in and appreciate the level of detail that Da Vinci put into this commissioned work. No wonder it took him something like three years to complete. The painting has gone through several restorations over the years, the most recent taking place within the past few decades. I just can’t begin to describe how impressive it is. If you’re ever in Milan, this is definitely something you should try to do. It was well worth all the trials and tribulations I went through to get there.

I was enjoying this new area I’d discovered so much that when the toddler nodded off in his stroller, I just let him snooze and found a not-quite-rip-off cafe overlooking the Piazza del Duomo for my own lunch. Again, nothing fancy, just a Caprese panino (no tuna this time) and a Coke. I enjoyed it at my leisure while people-watching and taking in the lovely Duomo.

We caught the tram back and I decided to get off a few stops early to explore a promising-looking street market I’d glimpsed earlier on the way downtown. Turns out, the few stands I’d seen from the tram were just the tip of the iceberg; this market continued on down one of the side streets for about six blocks! Unlike the Paris markets, there weren’t many food vendors, and what they had wasn’t nearly as top-shelf. However, this seemed THE place to be for designer knockoff shoes, purses, wallets and belts, plus a bunch of other clothing vendors and some trinkety stuff. I bought a beautiful (and seems to be nicely made) brown leather wannabe Prada bag for 30 euros, and a silky cashmere-ish sweater top for 20. FINALLY, some shopping I could afford in Milan! Now I actually can go back home with something to show for my visit.

We’d been away from Il Pavone for two nights in a row, so were due for a return last night. Dinner was good, although I have to wonder if Maria’s got it in for me somehow. There was the whole steak confusion last time, and then last night, she forgot my salad. Feeling up to tackling some pasta again, I filled up on spaghetti bolognese and a little taste of hubby’s pizza. It was good, as everything is, but not the best thing I’ve had there.

After busting ass all week, hubby’s hoping to get things wrapped up at a decent hour tonight. Today’s the last day of his show, and I’d really love to take him back downtown and introduce him to my newly discovered territory from yesterday. We’ll see, hopefully it will work out. Tomorrow, we’re off on a road trip to Ducati, the Rolls-Royce of the motorcycle world, and hope to pay a visit to the world-famous Dario the butcher and taste some of his culinary delights. I’m excited to get out of the city and see some of the Italian countryside. A domani, mi amici!

Basta pasta

Never thought I’d say this, but I’m getting sick of spaghetti. I broke my five-day pasta streak last night. I had to. Between chocolate croissants for breakfast every morning, Caprese panini for lunch and pasta every night, my body was going into carbohydrate shock. Yesterday afternoon, I came down with a terrible stomachache and decided enough was enough. Or as the Italians say, “basta.”

For last night’s Il Pavone dinner, I considered going light with a bowl of soup and a salad, until I saw the steaks being delivered to the diners seated to my right. Remembering that I hadn’t eaten meat since Germany, I decided I probably could use a good dose of protein and iron. Tagliata, or sliced steak, topped with mushrooms sounded like just the ticket. Patrick’s colleague was also in a red meat frame of mind and ordered from the steak portion of the menu as well, but when our plates arrived, we couldn’t tell whose was whose.

One plate arrived hot and sizzling, like an Italian fajita platter, slices of steak topped with arugula and big shavings of parmesan. The other dish was a big hunk of meat with a mushroomy-peppercorn sauce. Hubby’s friend and I were both a little confused. I thought I had ordered my meat topped with mushrooms; he thought he’d ordered his topped with peppers. We traded plates, but still couldn’t figure out whether or not we were actually eating the correct order. In the end, we just split them down the middle and everyone was happy. I don’t even remember what hubby ordered, I was so into the beef. At least, I assume it was beef. If it wasn’t, don’t tell me. I don’t want to know about it.

The sizzling platter was delicious and the parmesan lent a touch of richness. And I always forget how much I like arugula until I get it on something in a restaurant. (Note to self: seek out arugula at Indy supermarkets.) The peppercorn sauce on the other steak was really spicy with crunchy whole roasted peppercorns that added a good amount of heat without blowing your head off. The steak was really on the rare side and though I’m more of a medium-well girl, it was so good I didn’t care. With a generous mixed veggie salad to round things out, the only carbs I ingested for the whole meal were a few bites of the toddler’s breadsticks.

My plan today was to try to see Michaelangelo’s “The Last Supper.” The original painting is housed in a church here called Santa Maria Della Grazie. The only hangup is, you’re supposed to make a reservation for a viewing. Weeks in advance. Hmph. The concierge here at the hotel gave me hope, however, that we might be able to just show up, wait on line and snag an unused reservation for one of the daily no-shows. I got directions, found out which tram line to take, and the toddler and I set out.

In typical Italian fashion, everything ends up taking MUCH longer than you think it’s going to, and you can’t ever count on anything to run efficiently or on time. We stood at the tram stop waiting patiently while the old step-up model trams that we can’t get the stroller onto passed us by again and again. After an hour, I gave up. Ever the little trooper, the toddler hung in there without too much complaining. Maybe we’ll try again another day. Or maybe not.

Changing gears, we hopped on the tram going away from the inner city and rode it to the Cimitero Maggiore (cemetery) at the other end of the line. It was a beautiful blue-sky day, and I figured it would be a good place to let the kid run free for awhile.

This cemetery has to be the most elaborately decorated resting place I’ve ever seen. The entrance is marked with huge stone gates and lined with half a dozen flower stands. Once through the entry, the graves and mausoleums are adorned with arresting statues depicting all manner of Catholic verses — the crucified Jesus laying across Mary Magdalene, life-size angels, Jesus gathering lambs. There are also stained glass inlays in marble headstones, whole series of family portraits atop the graves, and TONS of fresh flowers everywhere. This place is so scrupulously maintained, I didn’t see any browned or dried-out blooms at all. It was so peaceful and super interesting to stroll around, and we only covered a very small section near the front.

The toddler kept wanting to stop and rearrange the rock borders and then he tripped and fell straight into a muddy puddle, so I corralled him back into the stroller amid violent protest. We started walking toward the hotel, on the lookout for a little cafe we could duck into for a quick lunch, but nothing really jumped out at me and we were cutting into the toddler’s nap by that point, so we just continued on all the way back. I grabbed a fairly decent prepackaged salad at the supermarket along the way to eat in the room.

We planned to meet up with hubby downtown by the Duomo when he finished up with his trade show for the day, so I decided to try a new approach to get the toddler to eat something other than crackers and cheese. Some might call it an act of desperation. We went to McDonald’s.

I quickly discovered the Mickey D’s in the Duomo piazza is home to ALL sorts of humanity. I ordered a Happy Meal for the toddler, grabbed a stool in the back of the restaurant and hoped for the best. Alas, he only wanted to eat the fries. I did manage to get a fruit cup and some yogurt down his throat as well. I’m really going to have my work cut out getting his diet back on track once we get home.

We still had an hour or so to kill before hubby was due to meet us, so we went strolling around the shopping district yet again. There are some absolutely beautiful old buildings here. I’d love to go on a guided tour to learn more about the city and its colorful history, but don’t think I’ll get the opportunity before we leave next week.

Hubby made it through the metro, we reconvened and meandered over to a place I’d spotted just off the piazza. Most of the dining establishments in the general Duomo area seem to be total tourist traps, and Merchanti Caffe was no exception. After eating high on the hog and easy on the wallet at Il Pavone all week, the meal we had tonight honestly outraged me.

Hubby ordered his standard pizza salami, a good-sized pie to be fair, and I ordered the risotto con funghi (rice with mushrooms). We also had one beer and one rather stingy but delicious glass of wine. Our total bill: around 50 euros. That’s like 70 bucks or so. For 50 euros, three of us could easily have stuffed ourselves senseless at Il Pavone. With drinks.

My plate of risotto could have been a side dish. It was not a lot of food. There was no bread, no salad, no nothing else. Just a scoop of risotto. For 13 euros. My glass of wine cost about the same. NOT good value. To give you a comparison, I saw a sidewalk chalkboard outside a cafe near our hotel advertising a lunch consisting of a first course (pasta), second course (meat or fish), bread, 1/4 liter of house wine AND coffee all for a mere 9 euros.

I finished my risotto (quickly) and was still starving, but I wasn’t about to order anything else there at those prices. The waiters were very nice to us and I guess you pay for the ambiance, but I didn’t feel it was worth what we paid at all.

After settling the tab, hubby chased the toddler while I thought about picking up a sandwich or dessert elsewhere. If I’d known I was only going to get a small plate or rice and a few shrooms, I would have eaten the rest of the rejected Happy Meal earlier! As it was, I used the occasion as an excuse to wander back to the unbelievably beautiful gelato counter I’d found on previous excursions.

moregelato

ah, gelato!!!

I got a medium cone, which could have easily passed for a large in my book, and three good scoops of my choice of gelato flavors to fill it. After much difficult consideration, I opted for the chocolate fondant, milky vanilla and creamy walnut versions. It was the mother ice cream cone and, at three euros, almost totally alleviated the bad feelings from my overpriced dinner.

As soon as I got back to hubby and the toddler, the two of them immediately commandeered my cone and I was relegated to sharing. No matter, I was finally full about halfway through.

A date with my dad

My dad had never been to St. Elmo’s, up until about a week ago. I’ve suggested going several times over the years, only to be soundly rebuffed. “It’s too expensive.” Some of Dad’s friends have been to St. E’s from time to time, including one gentleman he knows who apparently was extremely vocal about finding it overpriced and overrated. I think Dad had been swayed and made up his mind that there was no way he could consciously enjoy a meal that costs that much.

Until Devour Downtown came to the rescue… Twice a year, a collection of the most upscale downtown Indianapolis restaurants bands together to offer 3 course meals for $30. The promotion takes place twice a year and lasts for a few weeks at a time. (How could I not have known about this before now??) We’re talking about the best fine dining establishments in town, places you couldn’t get in and out for less than $50 to $100 per meal under normal circumstances. What a deal! And on the list, I found St. Elmo’s.

For non-Indy readers, St. Elmo’s Steakhouse is perhaps the quintessential Indianapolis eatery. It’s been around for a century and serves what I would venture to say are some of the best steaks you’ll find in the Midwest, if not the country. The menu is a short list of meat, yet their claim to fame is a shrimp cocktail starter with a horseradish sauce so spicy it’ll blister your sinuses. The place is seriously old school, and everybody who’s anybody dines here when they come through town. In fact, the walls are lined with autographed photos of sports stars, musicians, politicians and celebrities who’ve visited at one point or another.

When Dad came over to visit us and the boys last weekend, I decided to spring my ambush on him. He’s really helped me out this summer with babysitting on many occasions, and I never did get him a Father’s Day gift this year. I based my pitch on the premise that I’d much rather do something like take him out to dinner at St. Elmo’s than struggle to buy him some piece of clutter that will only end up relegated to a closet, drawer or shelf only to sit there unused and forgotten. It wasn’t as hard a sell as I expected; he agreed much more readily than I thought he would, although he feared such an outing might quickly become a habit.

It being a Saturday night, I figured a reservation was probably a smart idea, but when I got online to make one, the earliest seating we could get wasn’t until 8:30 p.m. Bummer. It was only mid-afternoon and neither of us had eaten much for lunch, so we decided to chance it and head down early, arriving at about 5:20 p.m. To my delight, there were tons of open two-tops in the bar and when we asked the hostess about a table, she got us seated immediately in one of the main dining rooms – score!

I think Dad was momentarily blinded by the wait staff, all smartly decked out in tuxedos, but when he saw the diversity of our fellow patrons, he relaxed a little bit. In our room, there were all kinds of dining customers – from a few couples on dates to a young family with two small kids to a tableful of Gen-Con gamers. The crowd ran the gamut.

The Devour Downtown menu is a scaled-down version of St. Elmo’s classics – we both opted for that famous shrimp cocktail followed by filet mignon entrees. The waiters were super-attentive without being insincere, overbearing or oversolicitous; in my book, one of the the marks of a truly good restaurant.

A throw-away gimme in many restaurants, the bread basket merits mention here. This basket contained half a dozen or so pieces of warm nibbles in a variety of styles – dense rye slices, a light yeasty roll, and several squares of an addictively cheesy flatbread.

Our shrimp cocktail arrived lickety-split – three huge succulent pieces of shrimp buried under an avalanche of horseradish barely laced together with tomato sauce. Tasty, tasty, tasty. It comes with a wedge of lemon and a few packets of soda crackers to offset the heat.

Next up, the pieces de resistance. The steaks were ideally portioned and thick, expertly cooked to a slightly rosy pink medium well, just like we like ’em. Sides of red-skinned mashed potatoes and garlicky al dente green beans rounded out the plate perfectly. I wish I’d had a camera to take a picture of my dad’s face as he sunk his teeth into that first juicy savory bite. This is a man who eats chicken-fried steak from KFC every Tuesday without fail and thinks it’s a great meal. He immediately proclaimed that he was now ruined and will never eat steak (I use the term loosely) at Golden Corral again.

Even though the St. Elmo’s plate was a smaller-than-normal version, I still couldn’t finish it. I wanted to save room for a bite of dessert and ended up packing the remaining few bites of steak and green beans to take home.

For dessert, we shared a creme brulee and a piece of cheesecake draped with some kind of berry sauce. I could only cram down a taste or two of each and figured we’d end up taking these home too, but Dad polished off the entire remaining portions.

All in all, the meal was absolutely delicious and perfectly paced. Between our two $30 specials, an iced tea for Dad, a massive glass of Shiraz for me and a big tip, we still made it out of there for less than $100. I’m telling ya, this is the way to go if you want an excuse to eat at St. Elmo’s, or any fancy downtown restaurant for that matter, without breaking the bank. We’re already looking ahead to the winter Devour Downtown for our next father-daughter date at St. Elmo’s.

Dad said he woke up the next morning still thinking about the meal and didn’t know why he’d waited so long.

St. Elmo's Steak house, an Indianapolis tradition

St. Elmo's Steak house, an Indianapolis tradition

St. Elmo’s Steakhouse – http://www.stelmos.com

Grillin' and chillin'

Last Friday, hubby and I got a rare overnight date night courtesy of my cousin Jenny and her family (MANY thanks!). We finagled a great Priceline bid on a downtown hotel and ended up at the Hyatt in a gorgeous room for the evening. We parked the car and headed out on foot to enjoy the surrounding environs.

After a long, busy day, the first order of business was a drink. We strolled around for a few minutes and ended up at Palomino. We don’t make it out downtown very often, but when we do, Palomino is a consistently good bet for an upscale beverage. The place is always hopping, and no matter how busy it is, there always seem to be seats at the bar. Nice. Something else I really like about Palomino – the lighting always flatters. Someone’s really put some good thought into creating an attractive ambiance…

After a draught beer for hubby and a nice glass of Pinot Noir for me, it was time to seek out some food. I suppose we could have stayed at Palomino, but we wanted to make the most of our night out and spread it around. We wandered a little more, contemplating our options. We sorta felt like Italian, but we eat so much pasta at home, it seemed better to splash out a little bit on something different. It was a chilly night, so we didn’t walk too far before ducking into the warm and welcoming Weber Grill.

There was a Weber Grill next to my apartment building when I lived in Lombard, Illinois several years ago. I ate there twice and thought it very good, but hubby had never been. It wasn’t terribly romantic, but the wait was fairly short and the aromas wafting around were very tempting, so we settled into the bar to wait for a table. Another beer and glass of wine later, we were seated and perusing the menu.

Weber Grill’s claim to fame is that they cook everything on site on, you guessed it, Weber grills. It’s like one big barbecue – ribs, chicken, steaks, wings, whatever you can throw on a grill and sear. However, the decor is fairly upscale – lots of dark wood and leather booths and a nice bar with the ubiquitous big screen tvs broadcasting the sporting event du jour.

The boring old bread plate here takes on an interesting twist – the server brought us a basket of steamy pretzel rolls that were just chewy enough and a cheddar butter to drench them with. A promising start.

Since we’d gotten such a great deal on the hotel, I justified splurging on dinner and ordered a filet mignon, medium well, slathered with a schmear of bleu cheese and herbs. My steak was darn near perfect – cooked exactly the way I like it and so tender, I hardly had to use my knife. Definitely every bit as good as the cow you get at some of the pricier steakhouses downtown. I also upgraded the standard garlic mashed potatoes to the potatoes au gratin, served in a very generous baking dish and brimming with cream and cheese. YUM.

Hubby ordered the beer can chicken, half of a juicy bird that’s been roasted upright with a open can of beer stuffed up its ass to maintain maximum moistness. Not sure who first came up with this idea and what kind of crack they were smoking, but it works. Hubby is not a mashed potato fan — which I think is something of a sacrilege for an Irishman — but devoured every bite of his garlicky spuds, a true testament to how good they are.

We thought about dessert for a minute, but not seeing anything on the menu that we couldn’t live without, we passed it up in an impressive display of self-restraint. Back to the hotel room, where we slept like the dead until 10 a.m. the next morning. Ah…

Weber Grill – http://www.webergrillrestaurant.com

Grillin’ and chillin’

Last Friday, hubby and I got a rare overnight date night courtesy of my cousin Jenny and her family (MANY thanks!). We finagled a great Priceline bid on a downtown hotel and ended up at the Hyatt in a gorgeous room for the evening. We parked the car and headed out on foot to enjoy the surrounding environs.

After a long, busy day, the first order of business was a drink. We strolled around for a few minutes and ended up at Palomino. We don’t make it out downtown very often, but when we do, Palomino is a consistently good bet for an upscale beverage. The place is always hopping, and no matter how busy it is, there always seem to be seats at the bar. Nice. Something else I really like about Palomino – the lighting always flatters. Someone’s really put some good thought into creating an attractive ambiance…

After a draught beer for hubby and a nice glass of Pinot Noir for me, it was time to seek out some food. I suppose we could have stayed at Palomino, but we wanted to make the most of our night out and spread it around. We wandered a little more, contemplating our options. We sorta felt like Italian, but we eat so much pasta at home, it seemed better to splash out a little bit on something different. It was a chilly night, so we didn’t walk too far before ducking into the warm and welcoming Weber Grill.

There was a Weber Grill next to my apartment building when I lived in Lombard, Illinois several years ago. I ate there twice and thought it very good, but hubby had never been. It wasn’t terribly romantic, but the wait was fairly short and the aromas wafting around were very tempting, so we settled into the bar to wait for a table. Another beer and glass of wine later, we were seated and perusing the menu.

Weber Grill’s claim to fame is that they cook everything on site on, you guessed it, Weber grills. It’s like one big barbecue – ribs, chicken, steaks, wings, whatever you can throw on a grill and sear. However, the decor is fairly upscale – lots of dark wood and leather booths and a nice bar with the ubiquitous big screen tvs broadcasting the sporting event du jour.

The boring old bread plate here takes on an interesting twist – the server brought us a basket of steamy pretzel rolls that were just chewy enough and a cheddar butter to drench them with. A promising start.

Since we’d gotten such a great deal on the hotel, I justified splurging on dinner and ordered a filet mignon, medium well, slathered with a schmear of bleu cheese and herbs. My steak was darn near perfect – cooked exactly the way I like it and so tender, I hardly had to use my knife. Definitely every bit as good as the cow you get at some of the pricier steakhouses downtown. I also upgraded the standard garlic mashed potatoes to the potatoes au gratin, served in a very generous baking dish and brimming with cream and cheese. YUM.

Hubby ordered the beer can chicken, half of a juicy bird that’s been roasted upright with a open can of beer stuffed up its ass to maintain maximum moistness. Not sure who first came up with this idea and what kind of crack they were smoking, but it works. Hubby is not a mashed potato fan — which I think is something of a sacrilege for an Irishman — but devoured every bite of his garlicky spuds, a true testament to how good they are.

We thought about dessert for a minute, but not seeing anything on the menu that we couldn’t live without, we passed it up in an impressive display of self-restraint. Back to the hotel room, where we slept like the dead until 10 a.m. the next morning. Ah…

Weber Grill – http://www.webergrillrestaurant.com