Review: Crow’s Nest

18 September 2017

A bit of a hangover and my body is starting to rebel a bit on this birthday morning… I shook it off and headed off for a long walk along the coast on the Coastal Trail looking at the water — albeit the tide was out this morning. A misty day on and off, but that’s just good for me. Unfortunately by the time I got near the Westchester Lagoon my aforementioned knee started to act up again…

So with a hilly walk back to downtown, I reluctantly turned east and hiked back through the city. Found this odd signage at Delaney Park tho… I walked back to where I started near my hotel and saw that the Snow City Cafe was still full…was full when I came by this morning. Oh well. I ended up across the street for lunch, which was pretty awful (will write about this later). But then took some hot dogs from a stand across the street and that was one of the best things I ate all trip (will also write about this later).

The afternoon I didn’t do much, just wandered around and actually had to do some packing, as I am heading out for Juneau tomorrow on this short stop. And for my birthday dinner I headed across the street back to the Captain Cook Hotel and went to the top of the tower to Crow’s Nest, their fine-dining restaurant.

Supposedly the best restaurant in Anchorage, I arrived and sadly witnessed a service shitshow in full bloom… When my server finally got to my table, I had already heard her tell other diners that most of the staff called in sick today and she was the only server for nearly the entire restaurant… Sigh, I felt bad for her, but I sense tonight is gonna be a mess…

But it started out well with an okay martini, the spirits selection here seems pretty good — as evidenced by my drinking last night. When my server came back I placed my order…but was told they had no salmon. Yeah, I’m in Alaska and there’s no salmon… I ordered something else and let’s see what happens…

I enjoyed the view as I finished my drink and by then the sommelier had come by with my bottle of Furmint. I asked for it to be in reaching distance due to their service woes, and they were happy to oblige. I rather pour my own wine anyway… So ahh…45 is an odd age…you’re too old for so many things, but too young to be considered for other things… Perhaps it also marks the end of the Midlife Crisis mode into the steady decline mode too

Anyway, before too much introspection my first dish arrived…

01-bisque

Well, this bisque was sadly quite meh… Nothing special, frankly… Oh well, more wine… The wine was excellent. I love the fact I can drink a fine white from Hungary sitting in the middle of Alaska… Then after awhile the main arrived, the course I had to choose after they told me they were out of salmon…

02-black cod

Hmmm… This black cod was really bland and had little of the natural goodness that this fish is known for, to be honest. Not sure if it was overcooked or just a poor piece of fish. Plus the mess on this plate really didn’t do the fish any good. This was so utterly disappointing… I barely finished it, just dreaming about the extra hot dog from this afternoon I left in my room…

I finished it and reluctantly ordered a dessert, the lemon tart.

03-lemon tart

Again, nothing special, very ordinary. And then I was told they ran out of a rather common bourbon that I had ordered…so I gave up and asked for the bill. It wasn’t the server’s fault that the place is so mismanaged…I feel bad for her (and tipped her well) and all she had to deal with tonight. This little thing with my parting chocolate was something I would have traded for a glass of proper brown spirit, but oh well…

bday

I swallowed it and headed out, sad how poor this birthday dinner turned out. I didn’t even have the heart to go drinking anywhere. I just headed back to my room and devoured that sausage I had dreamed about all through dinner…happy birthday to me…

Crow’s Nest
Captain Cook Hotel
939 West 5th Avenue
Anchorage, Alaska

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A Total Cluster**** in Oregon…

15 September 2017

I woke up early the next day knowing I need to beat the terrible traffic through Portland, since I was heading south and my hotel was north of the city. Luckily I got out in time, just as it was starting to get thick. I got through and my rental jalopy was giving me issues.

I spent the morning in Salem, the state capital. Then I pushed south. By the time I got to Eugene the signs of the ugly wildfires were all over the place. The haze was terrible — and heartbreaking. But I was shocked to see farmers burning fields despite the already horrible air quality…

I got all the way down to Roseburg for the early afternoon before heading back north back to Eugene — just to be stuck in traffic in the middle of the day in the middle of nowhere…you gotta be kidding, Oregon… But I got to Eugene and I was a bit taken aback. I thought I was entering a busy college town, but I didn’t realise the students aren’t back yet! Wow, how late do they start out here? Students were already headed back when I was in Ithaca a month ago!

So I guess booking my dinner at Belly was not really necessary. I got there and it was empty…and the staff seems to treat it as so. Very relaxed, almost too relaxed…

I chilled out with a cocktail and looked over the menu. Couldn’t decide, so I just started with an order of gougères

gougères

I usually wouldn’t go with these, but the stuff I was interested in was not available… These were on the boring side to be honest, lacking in any flavour. Could have been a normal bread order really… Oh well. After one of them I needed something substantial, so I ordered the pork chop.

I had another drink and the clock just kept ticking. What’s going on, this restaurant is nearly empty, are they not prepared? Then after about 40 minutes I see the bartender having an animated discussion in the kitchen and when he came out I asked if there was a problem with my order…

Well, it seems he didn’t put the order in right and it never went through…

Oh, goody…

I did not want to reward incompetence at this point, so I cancelled the order that was never put in, took the bill, and headed out pretty pissed off. This is a joke…

Okay, Eugene, you just did yourself a huge disfavour in my book…what a disastrous Friday night…

Belly
30 East Broadway
Eugene, Oregon

*PS Of course I ended up back at my hotel and drank myself stupid, no thanks to my empty stomach… Took some food upstairs and just ate it and collapsed…a shitty way to start the weekend leading into the b’day…

Review: Roost

1 September 2017

The next day I picked up a rental car and headed north-west and looped around Indiana into Michigan before settling in north-west Ohio. Toledo drives me crazy with the insane road constructions (is this how they keep people employed?), so I just got some fast food and hid in my hotel. The next day I was winding through western Ohio and eastern Indiana and finally ended up in a stormy Dayton.

The weather was not fun as I headed into dinner at Roost, supposedly one of the top places in town. It was the Friday of Labor Day weekend, so I wasn’t sure if it would be crazy — or empty. Turned out something in between, but there was obvious a staffing issue. My entire large section was dealt by one server, who likely drew the short straw to work this shift. Poor thing…

I ordered and you can tell she was overworked. In any case, I enjoyed a cocktail before my starter arrived, arancini

01-arancini

Well, it was meh to be honest. Cooked okay, but it was full of pepperoni. That didn’t work for me. Oh well… This is what I get for doing “Italian” in the US… Then the main course, which was one of the day’s special…

02-swordfish

The swordfish, albeit good, was overcooked — possibly just late to be served as my poor waitress was dealing with a lot of people who could not decide. The pasta was okay, but the whole thing was an exercise in meh. One of those “I can do way better than this” dishes… Plus, I was annoyed with the conversations I was overhearing from people at nearby tables…

THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD WAS NOT A 19TH CENTURY SUBWAY! WTF!!!

It’s shocking how badly educated people are in this country, and I’m directing this at earlier generations. These are all well-dressed, middle-aged folks with disposable income in a depressed town spewing this kind of ignorant crap to each other. It’s reasons like this we ended up with Trump, and we have a country that’s so messed up…it all comes back to shit education. Sorry.

The place emptied out a bit and my poor waitress brought me my bill and she was visibly relieved when the larger, confused tables all left. Poor thing… I headed out not really happy with this evening, the meh food and the really annoying folks around. The only thing I kept thinking was — that poor server…

Roost
524 East 5th Street
Dayton, Ohio

PS: Yes, she got a good tip from me.

Review: D.O.M.

17 July 2017

I was still glowing with the porcine goodness of lunch at A Casa do Porco, but we approach the final meal of my time here in São Paulo. And of course it was dedicated to D.O.M. It had to be done, and with all the accolades it should be quite a wonderful meal to end my short stay here in SP.

It was not a long walk, and mostly downhill, so I trekked my way there. A little early, so just hung out a little before they were ready. I headed in, seeing Chef Alex Atala still chilling. I was seated and they recommended a house cocktail, so I went with it.

cocktail

A nice smoky wee cocktail and they vaguely described the dinner, and I was happy to go with the wine pairing. I asked for a bit of time to enjoy my drink before the procession started, and they were happy to do that. Glass was a little too cute tho, it kept rolling away… I chilled out for a bit, and saw Chef Atala head into the kitchen. This should be fun!

I need to apologise for the bad photos as it was dark as Hades in there, and I try to take shots in the dark without the glowing screen annoying other diners, so some didn’t come out well at all… Soon the snacks appeared, starting with a cachaça candy that wasn’t bad…

01-cachaça candy_edited

…then a pepper mouse that was also good, accompanied by a shot of sake inside a pepper… Interesting. So far so good, then the next set of snacks…

03-06-starters

This was a hit-and-miss set. The oyster was was a boozy disaster, the watercress and shrimp was okay, the bottarga not bad, and the piracuru skin pretty nice. I have to say reading the menu after the fact showed the servers didn’t really know what the items are…and sadly, that’s just the start to this rapidly declining evening…

A pour of a nice white and the first larger item arrived, scampi.

07b-prawn_edited

Now for a 2-Michelin and supposed-to-be-one-of-the-best restaurants in the world, this prawn was a cry for help. I don’t think I’ve had a stringier prawn for a decade. It was borderline inedible, horrible quality. Did no one check? My goodness, this was just awful… And of course the servers had no idea what was with the poor creature that may have expired from advanced age…

Then the next course came, shockingly with the server DROPPING silverware on my table instead of placing them. Is this a 2-Michelin place or a hole-in-the-wall? Where did they find these servers?

08-scallop palm heart_edited

This scallop and palm heart dish wasn’t bad, though the herby essence was way too strong and ate way into the natural goodness of the ingredients. Careless stuff by the kitchen. Then some manioc bread that’s just that…

09-manioc

Next…then we revisit palm heart with this raviolo-like thing. Excellent, the dish of the night, lovely stuffing here.

10-palm raviolo

The service has not improved, but at least they’re not dropping silverware on my table anymore after I gave them dirty looks last time they did it… But as with the descriptions they seem to have an “just eat it” attitude when I kept asking for a description more than 3 words…

11-pirarucu

Then the next dish was the piracuru…it really didn’t work. The extremely acidic sauce just destroyed the fish. The pirarucu I had at Tordesilhas yesterday for lunch was far, far better… What in earth is this kitchen thinking? Then the next dish was shrimp and manioc.

12-shrimp

I asked the server what was in this, and he said, “shrimp”… I asked for more details, in Portuguese, and he said he didn’t know and need to ask the kitchen. FFS… I ate this with no glee…really boring. Again, very poor seafood. Is he sourcing this stuff right? The server came back with a mild explanation that didn’t explain anything at all…ain’t that great? The service cannot function in English NOR Portuguese it seems…

13b-chicken okra_edited

Next up in a meal that I’ve lost interest in was a chicken and okra dish. It seems to have various “Asian” touches but this kitchen has absolutely no clue how it works… It’s like a bad dinner at a bad wannabe fusion Asian place… I just tossed down the wines as they came…

14-palm noodle

Then the next dish was another one I wrote down in my notes, “what were they thinking” — palm noodles. These were awful. Again, what I call “faux Asian” in another dish that I would have expected from a chef who has just helmed his first kitchen, not in one with so many accolades…

Ugh…this is basically a cluster. I wasn’t even asking questions anymore as it does no good. This is just going through the motions now. The final savoury is now up — finally…

15-duck

And of course it’s overcooked, the duck… TA DA…am I surprised? No. One of the worst duck dishes I’ve had in years… I just want this to end, and then this…

16-aligot

Really, aligot? Really? A dish on a good day I find disgusting actually turned out quite good. It’s quite sad to say this was one of the best dishes of the night…on something I usually would not touch with a bargepole ala carte… Does that say it all?

17-curd mousse

Next up was curd mousse, which was quite meh…I’m just counting the numbers now…

18-banana lime ravioli_edited

Then a lime and banana “ravioli” dish in a jelly-like thing. Not bad, to be honest. This segment is turning far better than the savouries… And we finally finish with some grilled mango…

19-mango

More like pulverised…and, of course, they bring out a faulty spoon. What a perfect end to this service disaster. Even at last night’s ridiculously bad Rodeio the service was not this pathetic. They were just lazy last night. Tonight is just incompetent, and whoever runs the FoH should be totally ashamed of this. Not even worthy of an Applebee’s…

AND FINALLY, IT’S OVER…

This was just such a crappy evening it’s hard to believe how expensive it is — especially considering we’re in Brazil. This would be considered pricey in many European capitals, and it’s just obscene in a town where some make less than this a month. Sure, if the food and service was up to par, but this was not — not by a long shot. The food is mediocre, the service is piss poor. How they got 2 Michelin stars is beyond me, but it’s places like this that makes Michelin look bad. And it discredits the 50 Best Restaurants thing even more with its mutual stroke-fest attitude.

This was so utterly infuriating of an evening I didn’t even wait until my Cabify dropped me off a few minutes later before I sent a complaint email about the ridiculously bad service. My goodness, what the hell? They should all go to Tuju and learn — from the kitchen, and from the FoH there.

I thought today’s awesome lunch had saved São Paulo for me, but this just buries it. Ugh, what a waste of money and time…

Avoid this place like the PLAGUE. THE PLAGUE.

D.O.M.
Rua Barão de Capanema 549, Jardins
São Paulo, Brasil