after dinner sneeze

a lot of g says, t says

Kanella: Doing the Robot …

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t says: g and I anticipated a weekend without any plans, so we decided at the last minute to go out for a date night!  We visited Tria first, which was delightful as always.  And, after we each had some wine, a bit of tete de moine cheese, and a salad featuring grilled asparagus, white bean, and artichoke, we headed down the street to go to Kanella.  Kanella (transl. cinnamon) has gained some attention recently – a lot of people on chowhound enjoy it, claiming that it was one of the best BYOs in the city, and, as I found out right before we went, a dish was going to be featured on Food Network’s “Best Thing I Ever Ate”.  We didn’t know which dish it was, but were happy to go and check out Kanella’s dinner.

2/2010, Friday Night, Party of 2.  When we arrived at the restaurant for a 9:30 reservation, we were told that they were running a bit behind.  So we, and at least three other couples, crammed ourselves into the super-tiny entrance-way (it was very cold outside, so we stayed indoors).  While some of the other waiting people were getting frustrated, I was still happy from the wine I had at Tria.  After the first half-hour, I could only laugh that we were still waiting while no patrons had left the restaurant (we figured someone would have to leave for us to move in).  The hostess was super-apologetic for the wait (she apologized every five minutes), but there clearly was nothing she could do.  Then, she came with a dish of the grape leaves appetizer “from the kitchen”.  Then the chef came out and apologized, bearing a plate of the fried halloumi cheese appetizer.  I have to admit that g and I weren’t particularly impressed with either of these.  The grape leaves had a nice sour punch, but the stuffing was quite bland.  The cheese was just that … cheese.  But, these aren’t the kinds of appetizers that we would have ordered, anyhow, so we were happy to try something different and greatly appreciated the sentiment.  Eventually we were indeed seated – we were the last couple they were seating that night, so we had a nice four-seater to ourselves.  On our way in, an older couple dressing to leave commented, “don’t worry – it’s worth the wait!”  We hoped so.

When we sat down, we were greeted by a very friendly waiter.  He was super-enthusiastic about the food here, so that was great!  But things changed a little when we asked him which dish was being featured on the Food Network.  He kind of rolled his eyes and admitted that it was the Cyprus Breakfast.  Later on, when I returned home and googled it, it turned out that the Cyprus Breakfast had been garnering quite a bit of critical acclaim recently.  The waiter said that he was shocked that it was the dish getting such favorable comments, as he felt other dishes were superior; we appreciated his honesty.  But then he commented that they would get a LOT of people asking for it at breakfast, referring to them as “robots”. During our conversation, as another server passed by, ours broke conversation and said, in a robotic voice, “cy-prus-break-fast”, to which the passer echoed “cy-prus-break-fast”.  Apparently it was a common joke among the servers that patrons mindlessly order the Cyprus Breakfast.  I felt a little awkward by this exchange as I felt that even if it is a “simple” dish, if people are willing to pay for it – who cares?  Also, had the dish been a dinner dish that I could have ordered, I think I would have been one of those robots they were making fun of.  This possibility led me to conclude: if you like something else better, then that’s all you have to say – you don’t have to put down patrons – have some tact!  *steps off soapbox*  So, that put a sour taste in our mouths to start.

Having had some food at Tria and also the “ok” appetizers we were given while we stood, we decided to go straight to dinner.  g ordered the pork tenderloin with chickpea fritters while I had the lamb with some sort of orzo concoction (?giuvetsi?).  g’s pork tenderloin and my lamb were good; they were cooked well and seasoned well, but they just didn’t sing to us – it’s hard to be pleased by a pork tenderloin after having had one at Cochon.  But perhaps the meats being only “good” was not the fault of the pork or the lamb or the chef, rather, it was the fault of the orzo side on my plate – it was fabulous.  We agreed that it was the most delicious thing on both of our plates.  It was rustic and tasty – it could have been a dish by itself.  And there was so much that I brought some home and reheated it for lunch the next day – it was still phenomenal (so I knew it wasn’t just the wine talking the night before).

Before our entrees were cleared, we had another odd encounter with our waiter.  He dropped by specifically to ask g if the pork “was too rare for her” – but something about the way he said it didn’t make it sound like he was being helpful, rather, being critical – I interpreted it as, “are you too much of a wuss to eat pork the way it’s supposed to be cooked?”.  The answer was no, the pork was fine and she was just full, but I was tempted to say “no, it’s just too unremarkable for her to eat the rest”.  I bit my tongue and let her do the talking (she doesn’t even remember this happening, so perhaps it wasn’t that big of a deal) …

For dessert, we had their assortment of ice cream which included cinnamon, coffee, and pistachio.  The cinnamon ice cream was absolutely delicious – the cinnamon flavor wasn’t overpowering and the texture was great.  The coffee and pistachio were also very nice and worked well with the cinnamon – we liked these ice creams very much.

So, all in all, we had an “good” meal at Kanella.  There were two shining lights (cinnamon ice cream and the orzo).  As for whether the rest could stand up to Kanella’s reputation – maybe it was a rough night in the kitchen with how busy they were?  Maybe the attitude of the service influenced our perception of taste?  Maybe we were just too full from Tria?  I don’t know.  But I do know one thing … we will be going back … for the cy-prus-break-fast.

Written by afterdinnersneeze

27 February 2010 at 12:52am

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