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Restaurant Review: Commander’s Palace – Destin, Fl

June 3rd, 2010 No comments

Commander’s Palace: is a chain of fine dinning restaurants originating in New Orleans that offers modern spins on classic southern creole cooking.  I have been to New Orleans and Destin Commander’s franchises many times.  I keep returning because the service is impeccable, the food wonderful, and the menu different.

The Food: Commander’s offers local proteins and produce presented in classic southern and modern creole dishes.  In Destin, the menu has classics from New Orleans, such as turtle soup and crawfish, but the focus is on local seafood.

The highs: All of the food was impeccable prepared and the service was tremendous.  For my first course, I had turtle soup.  If you have never had turtle soup at Commander’s it is something you must try; it is prepared with a dark roux and the stock is reduced until it is almost a stew.   For my second course I had, the Breaux Bridge Crawfish Black Truffle Gnocchi appetizer.  This was easily one of the best courses I have eaten in years; it had a wonderful earthy taste, but each bite revealed new flavors and compexity.  For the main courses we had whole flash fried flounder and the Angus steak.  The who fried flounder, was tender/flaky and the presentation was stunning.  The steak’s temperature was perfect temperature and the accompanying truffle butter and sauce forestiere, elevated this meal from a simple steak house meal to fine dining.  

The Lows: I could have used more bread…

Ambiance:  A tranquil modern dining room over looking the Destin pass and Destin Bridge.   While dining, there was an airshow and fireworks over Destin Pass making for a very memorable meal.   It is an ideal setting for business and pleasure.

Cost:  Appetizers averaged $8 and entrees $28-32 for above-average sized portions.

Overall: An outstanding dining experience.  I have been to Commander’s many times and this was easily one of the best meals I have eaten at Commander’s or anywhere else.  It is easy to see Commander’s is an institution in New Orleans and soon to be in Destin.

Restaurant Review: Copper Grill, Destin FL

May 26th, 2010 No comments

Copper Grill: is a restaurant I have wanted to try for several years.  When it opened in 2000, I heard many good things about the fabulous cuisine.  Due to the regions abundance of outstanding local restaurants,  I put off going for about a decade.

The Food: The food offers are your standard fair steak house with a couple local catches and a selection of Maine and African lobster.  Before going to the restaurant, the online menu differs from the in restaurant menu in terms of price and the weight of steaks; the online menu has 2 ounce heavier steaks for $4-$5 less.

The highs: During the appetizer course, the Jumbo Lump Crab Martini was the highlight of the evening.  It was light and perfectly balanced for the summer, in fact it was likely the best item we ordered all night.  For the main course, all the steaks were cooked to the proper temperature.

The Lows: The tuna steak appetizer fell flat; its surface was badly burnt and that depreciate an otherwise attractive dish.  The restaurant has an open kitchen in the center of the establishment, while I am normally a fan of a kitchen on display, this one was more dismay.  There was only one chef and as he completed a course he placed it under the  salamander.  Some of the main courses from our table of four sat there for 10 minutes before being served.  While this is not completely outrageous it does explain why my lobster tail was leathery. In a restaurant who’s logo is a lobster, a rubbery-tough to cut with a steak knife lobster tail should make own re-evaluate the quality control. My last bone to pick is presentation, if you ordered a steak without topping, it comes out simply in the middle of a cutting board.  Simply a small slab of meat, lost on a large board with no garnish or accompaniment.

Ambiance:  Dimly lit with modern American decor.  Large comfortable booths.  I found our server to be slightly over bearing with her gimmicks and pressuring members of our party to get drinks/desserts. 

Cost:  Appetizers averaged $14 and entrees $40-43 for average sized portions.

Overall: Copper Grill is an average want-to-be ‘upscale’ steak house whose high prices will ultimately put it out of business.    Personally, I see no reason to return with Destin’s abundance of locally owned upscale dining and Ruth Chris just right down HW 98.

Food in Atlanta

December 17th, 2009 No comments

As a foodie, I have been planning on starting a restaurant  guide to New Orleans, but I can never find the time to do some.  However, I do have the time to make some quick comments on my recent culinary experiences in Atlanta.

Bluepointe:  is an Asian-fusion business-causal dinning restaurant that is locally owned restaurant group and overseen Chef Doug Turbush.
The Food: There were definitely highs and lows.  The restaurant boasts a combination of American and Asian flavor.  I would say it is American proteins served with  Asian flavor.  For me fusion requires innovation, but simply using Gulf Fish, adding some  foam, or adding a jalapeño to a traditional Asian flavor profile is not culinary fusion…. perhaps some would disagree. 
The highs:
The Tuna Tartar was the highlight of the entire meal.  The flavors of the Thai Chili were simply transcendent, in every bite new flavors were demonstrated, the taste permeated the tuna without overpowering the taste of the tuna, and very importantly there was a fair amount of tuna.  The only drawback to the dish was there was barely a teaspoon of lemon foam and about a dozen eggs of caviar; it does not serve as an affective garnish and would be better with it.  The Beef Short Ribs were braised very nicely and served in a nice miso reduction with just a small hint of jalapeño.  The wait staff should also be acknowledged for being knowledgeable and attentive.
The Lows: Citrus Steamed Sole on the restaurant’s first attempt I received a very nicely arranged plate with 2 large fillets, but one of the fillets was raw (I do not mean undercooked, simply raw).  I sent it back and received a second plate that had two small that were broken and piled on top of overcooked bok choi.  Zero points to the chef for presentation, style, or grace.  The first had an overwhelming (but not unpleasant) citrus taste.  The waiter did tell me before I ordered that they has a powerful taste, but the flavor fish were completely overpowered and was unsatisfying.  I was also disappointing with the Blueplate.  The Blueplate is a tasting appetizer containing: Gyoza, Lemongrass Shrimp, Peektoe Crab Springrolls, and Calamari.  The gyoza was simply fantastic, I only wish my gyoza were on par.  The other three dished were at best bland.  The Lemongrass Shrimp were all slightly overcooked and did not have a memorable flavor, however, they did pair very well with the Thai Chili from the Tuna Tartar.  The Springrolls were standard-fare, and the Calamari was simply bland and was the only item we did not want to finish.
Ambiance:  The resturant is very conveniently located near the mall on a busy intersection, however maintains a quiet and tranquil ambiance.  Bluepointe adeptly utilizes an open dinning room to create a comfortable dining experience.  I am not a fan of the tacky-cliche Christmas decorations hanging from the ceiling, they seems better fit in a TGI-Fridays than an upscale resturant.
Cost:  Appetizers averaged $8 and entrees $24 for average sized portions.
Overall: Like many business causal restaurant, if you play it safe and stick with what you already know is good, you will likely get a good meal for a fair price.  However, it is clear this is not a michelin rated restaurant and they need better quality control in the food they send out of the restaurant.  I have no plans on going back anytime soon.

Planet Bombay:  is an Indian Restaurant on Moorland near Freedom Park.  They claim to be an authentic Indian restaurant, but the food reflects Americanized Indian food.  In every city I go to, I sample the Indian cuisine and Atlanta has above average restaurants.
The Food: They offer a very wide array of curries and other Indian fares.  The food is always well prepared and the portions are average.  The restaurant has recently increased the amount of protein served in it’s dished, and now offers a satisfying amount.  It is not fine dinning, but it is delicious when your in the mood for Indian.  I have tried various vindaloos, masalas, curries, and biryanis and can say that they are all good, but far from great.  In general, the appetizers are fair at best and is the aspect of the menu in most need of re-thinking.
Ambiance:  Planet Bombay offers a nice atmosphere than most Indian places, however it’s open dinning room, hardwood floors and tables result in a very noisy experience.
Cost:  Appetizers averaged $8 and entrees $13 for average sized portions.
Overall: Slightly expensive, but overall a pleasant dinning experience.  Since I love Indian food, it is very likely I will be back.