So, among my list of never-ending meals to inhale before I find a more sustainable hobby, was Barbuto. I have heard nothing but gospel-like praise about Jonathan Waxman, his chicken dish and his epic Italian fare. And though I don’t gravitate towards eating the bird, I did consume an epic fellow fish, and some pasta mooching of course.
The thing with buttons on your pants is that…they don’t always button. There’s nothing sexier than a muffin top—when it’s of the freshly baked chocolate chip banana variety. But when there’s a superfluous overflow of excess skin hanging over a pair of skintight Rag & Bone’s, suddenly the muffin scenario is not as enticing. Luckily…this wasn’t the case on this lovely date night with Ilana.
Okay so this was an attempt at trying out a new restaurant, you know outside the realm of Aventura, which basically only offers three meal selections on a given night. And that’s if you get lucky enough to grab a table at Houston’s without waiting 40 minutes…Anyways, enter Dolce at the Gale Hotel, one of the newer Italian dining establishments on the scene. The restaurant itself was beautifully decorated, yet almost totally empty upon our 8:30 pm arrival on a Sunday night. Eventually, a few more tables piled in. Oh, and everyone besides for us seemed to order the pizza, so if you end up here, you should probably get on that. Otherwise…
Every time I see branzino on a menu, I get excited. Not in a weird way, but I guess my access to fresh fish in college isn’t too prevalent, and anytime I do consume fish, it’s usually along the lines of a spicy tuna roll or some kind of salmon. And obviously a can of Bumble Bee or Starkist tuna, but like…there’s only so much mercury a girl can ingest, you know? Anyway, I’m okay with that, but I could definitely use some branzino every now and then. This one was pretty good, although had I known it would have been swimming in a pool of butter, I think I would’ve ordered my own pasta, instead of just eating half of my mom’s spaghetti al pomodoro, which was al dente and simple–making for a great dish.
I just know you’ve never seen a chunk of veal this hefty. It wasn’t a normal portion and could’ve easily fed a hungry couple, or maybe a small village. I can vouch for the fries because I didn’t partake in the feasting of this newborn creature (sounds scary, I guess I only eat newborn sea creatures. This is starting to sound odd so I will move on to the risotto.) My grandpa ordered the veal milanese and was very satisfied all around, though he only ate about half of it. And he didn’t even touch the fries…(more for me.) My grandma opted for the shrimp risotto with a basil pesto and lemony flavor–pretty delish.
Okay so the wine was definitely one of the night’s winners. A great, light pinot, not too dry and not too fruity. I’m no wine connoisseur but when I love something other than sangria, I take it as a good sign for my palate. The key lime pie was good but…if you’re a die hard key lime pie eater, head to Joe’s Stone Crab or Houston’s instead.
Prices were a bit on the higher side, but if you go for some pizza and pasta, you’re safe with spending about $13-$23. Other mains were more on the mid-20/$30 range.
PS. portions are large and in charge. You can share. I didn’t and managed just fine, but just saying.
Dolce, 1690 Collins Ave.
Well hello there israeli couscous salad with arugula, tomatoes, pine nuts, grilled veggies and grilled shrimp. I’ve been waiting for some variety to emerge on State Street and at last, it was found at 608. American cuisine with some nice salad and sandwich options. The food probably took about 45 minutes, which was unfortunate and always annoying when it’s a salad we’re talking about. But it was quite tasty nonetheless. You can also go there to watch some sports, if you’re into that kind of thing. Very reasonable prices and nicely-sized portions. Salads are under $10 and than you can throw on some add-ons, like shrimp for $4, chicken for $2 and on with the species. My salad was great, I would return. And Jilly’s taco salad came in a nice, crunchy tortilla bowl and was tasty indeed.
I don’t know what it is but I have a thing for Merchant. Maybe it’s the fact that they make killer Manhattan’s and other fancy cocktails to sip, not chug. I would be totally fine if I never had another vodka cran in my lifetime. Which is why Merchant hits the spot. After having solely visited Merchant for the cocktails, I decided to give the food a try. Done.
Hello cheese curds, those babies were for the table (I promise.) I mean it’s breaded cheese, the relative of a mozzarella stick…if someone goes wrong with that, we may have an issue. My golden beet salad with creamy goat cheese, candied pecans and sunflower sprouts was delish. And the mussels…very good. That was the half portion! Cant imagine the full. Why’d they have to give me all that grilled bread? I finished it. Go. And drink up. Wait, they also have a late night menu. All I’m saying is soft-baked pretzel and fries. Bam.
In the spirit of all things birthday-celebration related, I decided to cross a new restaurant off my Madison list and indulge in a serious carb affair. And so it was… Commencing with a nice heirloom tomato bruschetta with some creamy cheese and pine nuts (delish) and than the real deal: zucchini pesto tagliatelle with melty goat cheese, walnuts, peppers and smoked bread crumbs. It sounds like heaven on earth and…had it not been for the restaurant’s shitty service, all would’ve been stellar. However, all of our pastas came room-temp/on the colder side and when summoning the waiter and explaining this dilemma, he just looked really confused and disappeared. Like, how is that confusing? Waitress number 2 was called upon and continued to express serious confusion (it’s definitely not rocket science, the heat lamps aren’t on lady) and finally, voilà–a new, heated plate emerged and it was awesome. (She did make a point to bring it out in oven mitts to prove a point that it was hot–funny/unnecessary)
Dessert was a concoction of peach-buttermilk gelato with a polenta bread pudding kind of thing, hints of basil and butterscotch with some sliced apple. Awesome. Anyways, verdict about this place: food was delicious, service was horrid but maybe give it a try anyway–you might have better luck? PS. the menu is pretty limited, a few pastas and thats basically all but I think this zucchini tagliatelle is pretty universal and suiting to all taste buds.
Hello Heritage Tavern, Madison’s new one-month old gourmand beast of a baby and award-winning chef Dan Fox’s new spot.
Cocktails first. The Malort drank was slightly bitter, with ginger liquor, lime, watermelon and a nice touch of lavender. Brooke couldn’t handle it, I somewhat chugged mine (a bit slow because yeah…kind of had a bitter tang but I dig it) but…that mojito. Serious. I mean look at the bushel of mint.
We were seriously feeling that comp bread platter with some pickled crudités and melt-in-your-mouth butter. The heirloom tomato salad with aged parmesan, cashew-olive vinaigrette (didn’t have much flavor honestly), herb citrus couscous and croutons was solid but the night’s winner was 1000% the beets.
Those roasted beets though. Fig brûlée, macadamia butter (insane), roasted strawberries and goat cheese. The little specks are dark chocolate. Best. Dish. Ever. Not normal. And that fish–a serious sea bass with artichoke, littleneck clams, creamed grits and an heirloom tomato-zucchini vinaigrette was bomb.
Service was amazing. Beets were out of control. Tomato salad was decent. Fish was awesome. Drinks were great. Ambiance was a bit of an older crowd.
Snacks around the $7 range, appetizers in the $12 range, entrees are mid $20ish…Go.
Heritage Tavern, 131 E. Mifflin