after dinner sneeze

a lot of g says, t says

Slate: Not Too Shabby!

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t says: dz called me up on Friday out of the blue and asked if g and I were free for dinner; we needed to catch up. Unfortunately, g was heading out for a girls’ night at k’s (which I can only imagine included girly-drinks, Dirty Dancing, pillow-fights, truth-or-dare, and lingerie), but I was available! I told dz to pick a place, as it really didn’t matter to me. So let me tell you about dz’s two very important rules when choosing a place to eat:
1) No waiting. Either the place needs to do reservations or be able to take walk-ins without a fuss.
2) Walkability. He has to be able to walk to it in a reasonable amount of time.

But the truth is that I think that he has other rules, too:
3) No pretentious crap that costs a lot of money for a microscopic amount of food (seriously, I have never seen someone “dominate” an entire large vegetable lo mein on their own in one sitting like dz).
4) No required sharing.
5) More than one vegetarian option.
6) Teva sandals must be permissible attire.

Now, none of these are outrageous requirements. If nothing else, they illustrate dz’s priorities when it comes to eating food … He wants to show up at his convenience, order the food he wants to eat, and eat that food. dz doesn’t mess around. But where’s the fun? I suspect that the real enjoyment for him when he goes out to eat is not so much the food, rather, the company with which he eats (as apparently, without company, he is known to completely forget to eat). I was honored to be part of the company!

So, dz chose to go to Slate. I was totally down. It would be great to try someplace new! Well, it’s kind of new. Slate is one of those places that I frequently walk by but have only ever seen two customers inside at any one time. Having been there for a surprisingly good brunch once with drb and g quite a while back (that’s right – three customers at once!  sorry, no past review because I forgot what I ate), I knew that they were capable of making good food, but it was hard to convince myself to go to dinner there with so many other nearby faves. This was my chance …

8/2010, 8:15pm, Party of 3. dz, his super-cool girlfriend, and I gathered at Slate for a Friday night dinner. At first, we got the, “it’ll be a while because we have no tables” excuse. This was peculiar because from where I was standing, there were plenty of open tables. Maybe some reservations were about to come in. In any case, when dz’s girlfriend suggested sitting outside, the host was happy to point us to the table and told us settings would be out momentarily. It was a great night for outdoor dining.

Initially, I was torn between the hanger steak and the duck. On one hand, it had been a while since I had eaten steak. On the other, would it stack up to my memories of the delicious steaks I’ve had at Bibou and Cochon? I felt that if not, I’d regret not getting the duck. And so it was decided. Go for the duck. But this wasn’t just “duck”. It was duck with a hoisin-Guiness sauce. I couldn’t imagine what it would taste like.

dz’s girlfriend and I also opted for an order of the vegetable lasagna eggrolls. That’s right. Two oxymorons in a row. Vegetable-lasagna (i.e. no meat). Lasagna eggrolls. Oh, and there was a dose of irony, as it included some “house slaw” as well, which I imagine was supposed to be like what the inside of an eggroll is traditionally filled with. How clever …

Enter our waitress. Now, before I go on, I want to stress she seemed like a nice, well-meaning person, which was great. But man. She was a space cadet. When she talked to you, it just didn’t seem like she was quite all there – maybe 85% there, but the last 15% was daydreaming about something. She took our drink orders (one beer, two wines) but the wine took quite a while to make it to the table, which was a little weird. We eventually found out that although she remembered that I had ordered wine, she couldn’t quite recall which one I had requested. Later, after we ordered the food (while my drink still hadn’t arrived), she then confessed to forgetting my entree as well. She said: “There must be something about you – I just can’t remember what you order.” It must have been my jedi mind trick that I’ve been perfecting over the past two decades. I’m glad I finally have some positive results; g has been completely resistant to all mind tricks, jedi or not – it’s been frustrating.

I do want to say that these small mishaps really didn’t make me angry or irritated or anything – it was just quite funny. dz’s girlfriend did point out that perhaps if she had written down our orders, all of this might have been averted. But where would we find such things like a paper and pen? We’re living in 2010! Get this girl an iPad or something!  Personally, my favorite waitress moment was when she came to check up on us after we had been served our food. We said everything was great, and she immediately said, “sweet!” and turned around to walk away. Not only that, she said it in some kind of “voice”. This was not like a normal speaking voice that one would use to say “that’s cool” or “great”. It would be like if you’re hanging out with a bunch of your friends and someone offered you a free brownie. “Sweet!”  Actually, it was a cross between Cartman from South Park and j.  In any case … it was weird. But then I remembered the perfect place for her: Snackbar.

How was the food? The eggrolls were actually pretty good. Definitely unusual, but good!  My brain was confused because my fingers were suggesting eggroll as I picked it up, but my mouth vehemently disagreed.  They were beautifully crispy on the outside with vegetables and cheese (presumably mozzarella) on the inside, with a smidge of pasta. And the tomato dipping sauce (i.e. similar to marinara) wasn’t half bad. It was like a super-crispy vegetable lasagna, which I think most people can appreciate. The weird thing was the side of slaw. It was unnecessary. If you’re going to give us some “house slaw”, you’re going to have to give it some kind of visaul appeal. And actually, I don’t even remember what it tasted like. Now I wonder if I even tasted it. Darn. Can’t remember.  Someone jedi mind tricked me.

The duck was cooked well. And that Guiness-hoisin sauce had some very nice sweetness and bitterness to it – that was a good combo. But really, I don’t have much else to say because the dish, from the meat to the sides, was well-executed and tasted exactly how it sounds. Not bad! Not blow-your-mind or to-die-for, but not bad! I think that this would be one of those things where if I replicated it at home, I’d be super-thrilled (and then post the recipe on the blog). At a restaurant, I’d be happy the first time I ordered it (which I was), but I’d move on to something new the second time (but at least this ensured that I would have no problem going a second time, which is more than I can say for others … looking at you Bistro St. Tropez).

So – Slate? Food was solid. Wine selection was ample (although not a lot of light-bodied reds – a lot of fuller-bodied, fruit-forward ones) and not super-expensive. Service was entertaining. In short, I’d go back. I wouldn’t lose sleep in anticipation of going again, but I’m nevertheless happy to know that some reasonable food is right around the corner.

P.S. Speaking of losing sleep about food … yes – our Talula’s Table reservation is right around the corner!  g’s super-pumped.  I am, too.  We have a 10-person group (meaning #11 and #12 are still open – you want in, drb?), including a, the super-wine-enthusiast, and we hope it’ll be awesome!

Written by afterdinnersneeze

29 August 2010 at 11:52pm

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