after dinner sneeze

a lot of g says, t says

Kanella Steps it Up; Amis Steps Down

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t says:  g and I went to Kanella some time ago and found that although the food was good, the service was weird and it just wasn’t blow-us-away enough to pop into our heads every time we went looking for a BYO.  k, having to work in the area this past week, suggested that we re-try it.  So we set out for a weekday dinner …

5/2010, Thursday 7:30pm, Party of 4.  The four of us sat down, broke out a bottle of a particularly smooth Australian shiraz, and buckled in for an exciting ride.  One of the things that Kanella has in its favor is the element of surprise – well, at least for us it did.  As we scoured the menu, we realized that the descriptions really didn’t help us envision what the final product would be.  There were ingredients we clearly didn’t recognize, and surely how they were put together would be a mystery up until the very end when they hit the table.  Of course, had we had a Greek (or maybe “Cypriot” to be more exact), perhaps they would have been able to give us a hint of what was to come.  Nevertheless, we each made our selections and patiently waited for whatever the waiter was going to bring us.  We amused ourselves by playing such games as, “how much money would it take for you to change your name?” and “look at the chef’s crazy eyes!”.  (FYI, the chef has these piercing blue eyes that are super-intense – he make a marble statue cower in fear.)

I went for the goat with “wheat berries”, eggplant, and yogurt.  It was fantastic!  I can’t remember the last time I had goat, however, this was a stunning example of a well-braised meat served on top of a homy bed of “wheat berries” (it’s like the lentils of grains … hmmm … that makes no sense and will probably cause some people to laugh – but that’s what it was like in my head!).  It was the kind of food you want to have a family-style plate of to share with … family (duh).  That said, it was rivaled by k and cm’s “brick chicken”.  The flaw of the brick chicken?  As vague as my description of the goat was, my description of the brick chicken is even vaguer.  I have no idea what the spices were, I have no idea what the sauce was – all I know is that it was so good that I might actually order the chicken the next time I go there.

I’ll let cm, master of cutting straight to the point, chime in:

cm says: chicken in a brick was very good also, interesting cooking method for the potatoes they were like little crunchy nuggets of potato.  chicken very juicy.  i remember scooping up as much of the sauce as i could.  and the flat bread was very good and an interesting mix of flavors, especially the dried apricot, good balance of salty and sweet.

back to t:  oh yea!  the flatbread was indeed delicious!  oh, and g went for the the “stuffed vegetable of the day”, which was bell pepper which she liked it very much – it played a major role in de-funking her evening.  And then … there was dessert.  We went for the date-and-chocolate cake (with vanilla ice cream) and the pistachio-olive-oil cake (with ouzo ice cream).  And I must say that Kanella finished the meal quite well with these.  Actually, the table was fairly evenly split on which aspects of which desserts we liked better (some liked one cake with the other’s ice cream, and vice versa).  Personally, I would have been happy with a gigantic date-and-chocolate cake, as the “cake” was almost like a bread pudding in texture with a little punch of date and the mouth-coating rich chocolate – beautiful.  So in the end, we really have no complaints.  Kanella did a great job with food, our server was excellent, and the prices were reasonable.

NOW … for the bad news … as you can see from the title of this post, we also went to Amis this past weekend, and they did not fare so well.  When we went to Amis for dinner some time ago, it was fantastic.  They did such a great job of taking dishes that we already knew and loved and making them even better.  Unfortunately, its price and lack of BYO-ness made it hard to go back … until we heard they did brunch.  Surely they could work their magic on some eggs and breads, right?  Wrong.

5/2010, Sunday 12:30, Party of 5.  I won’t dwell on the negatives of this meal because nobody wants to read too much of a Debbie-downer post.  So the positives: service was attentive, the decor is top-notch (would be a great date-place in the evening – lots of rich, dark-colored woods).  The negatives: the food.  w’s boyfriend and I went for a polenta scrapple with eggs and “peperonata” (i.e. stewed peppers).  Darn – what a letdown!  The eggs were fluffy (yay!) but lacked seasoning (boo!).  I liked the texture that the polenta added to the scrapple (yay!), but the scrapple was a bit anemic in terms of flavor (boo!), and the stewed peppers didn’t have much to bring to the table aside from … peppers … and tomato (more boos!).  The dish wasn’t inedible or anything – quite the contrary, as I cleaned up the plate – but it wasn’t something I’d ever order again.  The bread basket was “ok”, but nowhere near Parc’s bread basket, as the muffins were a bit dry and the zuchini bread was a bit crumbly.  g had the braised tomatoes and eggs, and, while she liked it “ok”, it’s not like they rocked her socks.  This leads us to the final nail in the coffin: the price.  I think w’s boyfriend summed it up nicely when he said, “we paid $12 for a $8-9 dish”.  And if you’re thinking “oh, that’s not too bad”, I feel like a 30-50% markup is a bit much.  In the grand scheme, I’d say that Amis out-performs Farmicia and Meme but is a notch below Supper for brunch.  Darn.  We were hoping that Amis would have been the place to take g’s parents because they strike us as the kind of people who’d be up for a savory brunch.  Alas, if you crave a savory brunch, forget Amis – go straight to Kanella (their brunches are awesome – and not just the Cyprus breakfast).

Written by afterdinnersneeze

18 May 2011 at 9:15pm

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