Tuesday, April 14, 2009

San Pedro – Hudson, Wisconsin

A spring evening in Hudson Wisconsin, the light breeze skipping over the nearby river and filling the air with brief moments of icy air.

My friend Bao and I walked Main street stopping at each restaurant looking for something interesting on the menu. The German sausage place almost got our business if it were not for a stranger who suggested the San Petro.. a Jamaican restaurant in the heart of a sleepy hick town, in the cheese capital of USA.

The place had a casual ‘sit yourself wherever’ attitude, and so we did at the bar of the kitchen where we could talk to the chef. The chef was pleasant, Canadian ‘doohnt you knooowww’ and had a certain passion for the plethora of jerk enriched products he could muster. Our waitress was some tanned girl with bleached white hair that jutted out at an unnatural angle to her head.
I can still hear the smug chuckle the waitress made as I asked for a diet coke… how was I to know I was in Pepsi town.

Appetizer; Nachos with duck and a Jamaican salsa, topped with grilled cheese

The stack of nachos, almost half a foot high came quickly. The plate I was warned was hot, but still I touched it.. yes.. it was hot. The nachos stacked like a game of Jenga, one wrong pull and you’ll lose your mango. The flavor was intense, warm, sweet, the duck - fantastic and successful app that was pleasing to eat, and boy did I eat a lot.

Entrée; A duck and mango salsa pizza with habanera aioli on the side.

The pizza was deceiving, the aioli more so. Each bite packed with flavor, with texture and after you swallow the habanera in the aioli was like being kicked in the face by a pack mule. When I ate as much as I could, I forced down two more slices for good measure.

Final Thoughts;

The chef was so much fun to talk to. He let me sample the mashed potatoes with banana, gave me the recipe for the aioli and gave me a respect for Jamaican cuisine. The service was great, prices ridiculously reasonable and the atmosphere welcoming. If ever I am in Hudson again, I would be sure to stop by this place.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Seven – Minneapolis, Minnesota

The night was cold, the wind sharp against my face. Bao and I had just pulled our rental into a car park, $10 to park yourself, $10 to valet… I chose to park myself, it seemed cheaper.
112 eatery was our destination, however it was not meant to be. 30 minutes separated our arrival with the opening of 112. Our hunger forced us to walk the streets of Minneapolis in search of food.

After 20 minutes of aimless wandering and countless ticket scalpers we came across Seven Restaurant. A steakhouse, come sushi bar, come go-go dancer bar spread over three floors. Way to diversify.

The décor of the restaurant was modern, marble countertops encircled the bar that greets you as soon as you enter. A short chef greeted us and offered us the specials menu. Instantly we were interested in the hamburger special. We asked the chef to swap out the prime rib for Kobe – the deal was struck and we were seated in the furthest seat from the door.

Appetizers; Beef Carpaccio & Lobster Bisque

The Beef Carpaccio came out first, slabs of beef dressed with arugula and parmesan shaves. The flavor was pleasant, save for the slabs of beef that made me gag when I tried eating one whole.
The lobster Bisque was graciously offered instead of a salad. The bisque was warm, hearty but a little too salty. I was unsure if the spilled bisque on my cup was part of the dish.
Entre; Kobe beef hamburger, with sautéed button mushrooms, foie gras and black truffle.
The irony of this dish was that the button mushrooms were the best component. The black truffle was replaced with inedible sautéed purple lettuce. The foie gras were but two slivers juxtaposed with a pound of matchstick fries. We ended up eating our hamburgers open face.

Dessert; Doppio Espresso and Crème Brule

It was a shame that my white-haired waiter did not know what a doppio espresso was. I had to shout out “double” to get him to understand. Further to my discontent, the crème Brule arrived, though it had not set. My espresso arrived, it too had been spilled down the side of the cup – perhaps this is a style or just the product of not using a tray.

Final thoughts;

Before we got the check, our little waiter friend came out to see us. Sporting his tongs and an unmistakable pride for his work we got talking about his cooking. Let me admit, I lied when I said it was good. Before we wrapped up our little cook friend talked about his steaks. I do not like prime rib as it is fatty. To contest this our waiter friend decided to cook us a sample of prime rib, to show just how fatty he can cut a slice. Moments later our cook returned to our table, a plate of meat swimming in Au Jus. We take a bite each…salt, not just salt but really really salty au jus. There was too much meat left, so to not insult our chef we had another bite each, carefully wringing it out before eating.

Our chef reappeared for the final time at our table. I asked him the secret of his Au Jus… He responded with Carrots, celery and onions. You could see the color drain from his face as I interjected with the word mirepoix. Alas the chef had the upper hand because the secret ingredient was yet to be reviled…

Imported bones…. Let’s just pause as we take in the significance of this.

The au jus is made Monday through Friday – unfortunately we arrived on a Sunday. Clearly our au jus had been reducing since Friday as it was salty as the sea and not good at all.

In closing;

Overpriced, sloppy execution and just not good food. This place should find a specialty and focus on it, instead of being a steak, sushi and go-go nightclub bar all at the same time.