Sunday, February 17, 2008

Inne the Know

Well, it's been a bit of a busy weekend. Let's start with a progress report:

Miles run: 4 on Saturday, 0 on Sunday - my shins were killing me. I am DEFINTELY out of shape.

Scarf length knit: Only two rows. Haven't watched a lot of TV. I expect to get a foot or two done when I go downstairs to watch Dexter (on CBS! I have dying to watch this show but we never had Showtime). Once the scarf is done, I am biting the bullet and buying double-pointed needles. It's time to move on.

Problems encountered with hobbies today: None. Starting putting the yarn/needles/etc back in the tub and putting the lid on so Ralph can not eat any more works-in-progress.

Red Wings Report (new addition to the progress report): ANOTHER LOSS. I believe this is six in a row. I have scoured my brain and can say in good conscience that I do not think I personally have done anything to jinx the team. I checked with Kristen today and believe her to be in the clear as well. This leaves only one option: The Wings are playing BADLY. And why was Jimmy Howard not in goal against COLUMBUS? Why did we just throw him in against DALLAS? (Sorry about all the capitals but I feel strongly about my team.)

All right. On to the good stuff. As I said, it's been a busy weekend!

Noe and I kicked off the weekend with a Friday night dinner at the Daniel Packer Inne in Mystic. I've had a hard time with restaurants out here. I know I am a restaurant snob...but I really do try to be fair in my assesments. Yet 90% of the time I have ended up dissapointed, or if not dissapointed certainly not enthusiastic. This has been particularly true of the fine dining establishments.

I never really gave the Daniel Packer much consideration, mainly due to the fact that our realtor pointed it out as a "nice place" and I was - to put it diplomatically - less than fond of our realtor (that's another blog for another day). But when Chad Stoner raved about it over a few beers the night we happened to catch him in Groton, I figured it might be worth a try.

I have to say, I was impressed right out of the gate. The wine list was at least more interesting (if not terribly extensive) than other area restaurants we've tried, our server was polite, quick, and knowledgeable (trust me, good service has been a rarity around here) and...instead of just butter, our server brought out a whole head of roasted garlic with toasted baguette. (You've heard the phrase "You had me at hello?" Bringing me free roasted garlic with my bread is more or less my food equivalent.)

Things got a little rocky after that.

A stuffed portabello mushroom appetizer proved to have too much cheese - there was no other substance to add texture and the meaty flavor of the 'shroom itself was completely overpowered. A mixed green salad with a champagne-strawberry viniagrette (from the nightly specials menu) was DRENCHED in dressing. There was a pool of it in the bottom of the bowl. The candied walnuts the menu promised were not whole nuts but appeared to have been ground in a nut grinder and there was barely a sprinkling.(To be fair, the clam chowder that Noe had for this course was delicious, if not dynamic.)

Needless to say, my hope started to deflate a little. Was I going to have another subpar dining experience? Then the entrees arrived.

Upon my first cursory glance at the menu, I was immediately drawn to a filet with two sauces, one being a roquefort sauce. Delicious, I thought. Like my favorite dish at the Earle.

Warning bells went off in my brain. I ate that filet with roquefort all four years I worked at the Earle and was never dissapointed. I ordered it when I went there with Noe's group for holiday parties. I didn't love any entree in Ann Arbor the way I loved that filet.

Why then, would I even consider ordering a steak with roquefort sauce anywhere else? Was I trying to sabotage my dining experience? I knew it wasn't going to be the same, and I could only be dissapointed. Common sense won out and I ordered Scallops Nantucket, made with local Stonington sea scallops.

This proved to be an excellent choice. The scallops were plump and juicy and not at all overcooked, baked in a casserole dish with herbed butter, bread crumbs, and topped with cheddar cheese. Unlike the portobello appetizer, the cheese on this dish was complementary rather than overpowering. I can say with complete honesty that I have never tasted a better scallop dish than this one.

Noe went with a meat option - a sirloin that started in a saute pan and finished on a grill. The grill flavor was amazing and partnered well with the sauteed wild mushrooms and Jack Daniels demi-glace. Both entrees were served with whipped potatoes and presented beautifully.

Dessert - we had to try it - was tiramisu, something I also hold to an Earle standard (shout out here to Richard Brandon, who made the best tiramisu I have ever personally tasted and have tried to replicate ever since). This tiramisu was more dense than other varities I've tried, and instead of being dusted with cocoa was topped with a semi-hard chocolate coating...but it still had amazing chocolatey-espresso flavor and layers of deliciously sweetened mascarpone cheese. (MUCH better than Olio's version, which is more like flan.)

All in all, I had a very good experience at the Daniel Packer. I'm going to chalk the drenched salad up to the fact that it was a special and try something from the regular menu next time. I have no issues at all with the entrees or the service - this may be the best waitress we've had in Connecticut.

Wow. When I get going on food I really go on and on, don't I? This is a long blog. I guess I'll save my blog about the New London Winter Film Festival - which the rest of our weekend centered around - for tomorrow!


Alison said...

I LOVE the D.P. Their almond (or some other nut)- crusted chicken is probably the best Connecticut meal I've ever eaten (and I've eaten a lot of meals in CT).

Becky said...

You should be a food critic and write for a paper or something....I never thought a blog about a dinning experience would be so interesting!