Kate and I have been Eating Downtown lately, part of the annual promotion of downtown restaurants.
“Fourteen days, from March 1st through the 15th 2012 of multi-coursed, pre fixed price menus at unique and distinctive local establishments. Lunches are available for $10 and Dinner will be offered at $20.”
We ate at four spots:
1. 301 in the Sheraton:
Probably the most solid meal we’d had — the salad (Chorizo salad – a new experience for us both) was awesome, and the entree (a tempura Trout) was something neither of us would have even imagined eating. Truly awesome.
2. J.J. Astor in the Radisson
Kate and I were split on this one. I had the Mahi Mahi (because fish is almost always too expensive in Duluth except at this time of year), and it was to die for. See the picture above. Kate had the pressed chicken — something tasty but a bit too salty to appreciate — at least, as she and out dinner companion, Kim, both saw it. Where the Astor excels, every year, is dessert. I ordered the Pot de Creme, which is basically a bowl of tasty chocolate pudding, and Kate ordered whatever the other thing was, that she loved, but that I paid no attention to because I was eating my pudding.
3. Black Water
Here we were also mixed. Kate ordered the lobster mac & cheese, while our friend Lisa ordered the bacon-wrapped scallops. I would have easily ordered the scallops, but the $5 apps remained too good to pass up.
This is the second “high end” mac and cheese we’ve had in town, and both at Black Water and Zeitgeist, they suffer from being not Mac & Cheese enough. That is, they use cheeses that I am sure are magnificent but are not Mac & Cheese cheeses, with the result that it always feels bland, even with the lobster mixed in. Maybe our tastes are too blasted out by Kraft to even know what cheese should taste like, but still, I preferred the $5 sliders.
Kate and I eat at Valentini’s about once year, and each time, we walk in thinking — wow this place is special. The atmosphere and location are amazing. The dinner, though, is always just above average — I tried to explain it to a friend by saying that sauces, at Valentini’s are not flavor accents; they are part of the structural integrity of the plate. That changes how you experience your noodles.
Notable for not participating this year: the Brewhouse. Last year, their dinner was one of the best deals on the menu. I like to see restaurants work together to promote each other, and regret to see this old fave not on the team this year.
Did you Eat Downtown this year?