Pan Seared Scallops

Today I have a quick restaurant-style dinner. Pan seared scallops are such an easy preparation. They require so few ingredients and cook perfectly. I upped the ante with a really easy sauce too.

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Ingredients:
3-4 sea scallops per person
3/4 cup wheat flour
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt & pepper
2 tbs whole grain mustard
1 tsp butter
splash milk
1 tsp cream cheese

Directions:
Heat a heavy pan over medium heat and drizzle with olive oil and butter when warmed.
Mix flour, garlic powder, and salt/pepper.
Toss scallops into seasoned flour and sear in the pan for 2 minutes per side.
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While the scallops are cooking, heat mustard, butter, milk, and cream cheese over low heat.
Serve scallops with creamy mustard sauce.

The scallops are slightly sweet with a slight crunch on the outside. The butter flavor they are cooked in plays off the mustardy sauce for a subtle flavor.

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I love scallops prepared this way. They’re easy (as in less than 10-minutes of cooking) and are full of flavor. I served them with roasted broccoli and polenta cakes. It felt special for such a simple dinner.

Bacon Wrapped Scallops

There aren’t enough foods wrapped in bacon. I can sense when scallops wrapped in bacon are a passed appetizer near me. It is like radar. I work the cocktail hour scouting what waiter has them near by.
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I decided I should make some myself. I think the challenge was really to get the bacon crisp and not to overcook the scallops.

Ingredients:

3-4 sea scallops per person
½ strip of bacon per scallop
toothpicks
1 tbs butter
1 tbs olive oil

Directions:

Rinse scallops and trim any connective tissue.
Pat dry. Again, pat any excess water off.
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Wrap each half strip of bacon around each scallop and secure with a toothpick, through the center. Or try using 2 to make an X to get it going. Generously salt and pepper both sides.
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Melt butter and oil in a hot skillet.
Place scallops in, bacon side down.
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Don’t overcrowd the pan so you can rotate the scallops, crisping the bacon on each side.
At the 4th rotation, pan fry both top and bottom.

These were tricky. I made sure to (account for and) pull out each before serving. The bacon held well. If anything, they weren’t quite as crisp as I would have liked. I think the scallop maintained its integrity.
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Four scallops per person was too much. They were huge! I served them with some roasted broccoli and parmesan risotto.

I have lots of meals and a whole vacation recap ahead. I’ve been under the weather and I’m trying to vacay detox while still getting prepped for the holidays. Bear with me! I’m shooting for Monday ;)

Portland Pie Pizza

The vacation of eating continues! Seriously, Portland ME is a foodie mecca (donuts & duckfat fries). I really hoped we’d make it to Portland Pie and it was everything I dreamed of. I buy their refrigerated pizza dough at the grocery store and love it. It is the best, hands down. It worked out to be a great dinner option for the last night we were in town.
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I was really torn as to what I was in the mood for. Their fall specials looked amazing. I might need to recreate one of their fall dishes. There was a mustard/sauerkraut/bratwurst/pumpkin ale pizza that sounded amazing. I also was intrigued by a maple balsamic dressing for salad.

We got an app (even though Mr. J was all about the pumpkin cheesecake for dessert). I knew after all our eating we could not eat an app, pizza, and dessert. Way. too. much.

We chose the sweet potato smoked cheddar dip with rosemary biscotti.
The Three Bite Rule - Portland Pie

They were working the kinks out on this one. We actually sent it back to be reheated. The breadbowl it was in was nicely warmed, the cheddar on top of the dip was melted, but the dip was cold. It wasn’t just “not piping hot” but it was cold. We neverrr send stuff back but this was meant to be warm. It then took forever. Other tables got their salads, drink refills, salads cleared and pizza served while we waited.

The kitchen wasn’t sure the best way to reheat it while maintaining the dip. I wanted to cancel it but our server was a bit MIA. She returned telling us it would be ready when the pizza was and the kitchen made a new app. I really would have just cancelled it or they could have offered to take it off the bill. Instead they offered us dessert. That made Mr. J one happy guy.

Our server thought it would be ready when the pizza was so we asked for whatever was ready to come out. I didn’t want the pizza sitting to stay warm. I’m not sure it was worth all the hype for all of this process, but it was good. Smoked gouda would have been better.

We ordered 2 pizzas so there’d be some leftovers to take home for the next day. We got one Bar Harbor which was super exciting now that Mr. J eats scallops! Woohoo! It was scallops, bacon, mozzarella with alfredo sauce. It was amazing. The scallops were cooked nicely and every bite was flavorful. The topping to crust ratio was spot on.
The Three Bite Rule - Portland Pie

The other pizza we got was called Dead River. It was red sauce and had spinach, red peppers, ricotta, and we swapped out hamburger for sausage. It is finished with garlic and crushed red pepper. Some bites definitely have a kick to them. I liked this one a lot and it was a great contrast to the sweet & smokey scallop pizza.
The Three Bite Rule - Portland Pie

One of my favorite things that happened was just too funny. For some reason our server didn’t seem sure that we were together. She packed the dessert to go as separate containers and asked if we each wanted some of each pizza packed up. I was so amused since we were celebrating our 1st wedding anniversary weekend!

I love their menu. I wish there was a Portland Pie near me! I’d be happy to drink the delicious local-to-Maine brews and dine on their expansive menu if they wanted to come further south!
The Three Bite Rule - Portland Pie

Lobster Walk n’ Roll

Google+ gave some spots away for a Lobster Walk n’ Roll event a few weeks ago in Harvard Square and I was lucky enough to get one. Liz from Eating Places joined me and we happily munched the lobster slider and cocktail tastes they offered up along with some photo tips while meeting other Google+ reviewers.

We began at Upstairs on the Square. I was psyched since I hadn’t been inside there. We were in a super cool pink zebra room. It was a bit pink for photos so bear with me.
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We got a small lobster roll and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. This was a great way to start the afternoon.
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The lobster roll was really simple and filled a buttery roll. I was so happy to see the big chunks of lobster meat with very little dressing.
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Next we made our way to Russell House Tavern for a slider and choice of cocktail.
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This slider reflected their mission to keep food from being pretentious. They kindly provided some fries as well, which were addicting to say the least.
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These sliders were my favorite of the day. I again LOVED that they were lightly dressed but had a touch of a kick.
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Gobs of mayo and miniscule chunks of lobster give lobster rolls a bad name…that isn’t how they’re supposed to be.
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I got their house St. Germain cocktail with sparkling wine and soda water. It was flowery and bubbly making it an ideal pairing with a very filled lobster slider.
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I’ve never been there for brunch but would love to. I need to get on that. Their breakfast sandwich is the stuff my dreams are made of. I might need accompaniment to get the bfast pizza or biscuits and gravy so I can try those too. I don’t know their restaurant Park , but I love Grafton Street.

Next we made our way to The First Printer. I hadn’t been here before (I hear it had been Herrell’s Ice Cream). The interior is homey and charming.
The Three Bite Rule - Lobster Roll
We cozied up in booths with platters of lobster rolls.
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They offered us 3 custom cocktails but everyone went with the same one! The crispy cuke stuck into it was show stopping.
The Three Bite Rule - Lobster Roll

I have to say that their lobster rolls were my least favorite. The lobster meat was deliciously tender and I was pleasantly surprised by the orange zest. Their rolls were dry and stale. I think after having 2 other/different rolls these seemed lackluster. That didn’t stop me from eating the insides of other sliders though.

Their ice cubes are crazy perfect squares. We were impressed and I mentioned it to the waitress who thought a) I was nuts, and b) that I was asking where ice comes from. It was awkward and couldn’t have been over fast enough.

It was so nice of these restaurants to host us for this lovely summer Sunday funday.

Full 3 Bite Rule Disclosure: The Lobster Walk n’ Roll was completely complementary but my thoughts, opinions, and words are entirely my own.

Salmon Burger

I’m posting out of sequence so it might look like I’m eating bugers non-stop. Mr. J had some venison so I bought myself some fish. Salmon was on sale so that sealed the deal. If I’d been coordinated, I’d have made a pie for pi day so, happy 3.14!

I’m talking $2.68 for a POUND of salmon. That’s several servings. Whoa!
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I was doing to cook it in the oven with butter, lemon, & dill but then I had this strange hankering for a salmon burger. It came out of nowhere. I’ve never even EATEN a salmon burger before, but this was wicked good.

Ingredients:

½ cup panko breadcrumbs
¾ cup breadcrumbs
1 pound salmon
1 tsp dried dill
1 tsp lemon juice
1 egg½ tsp garlic

Directions:

Cut salmon off the skin
Add breadcrumbs, salmon, dill, and lemon juice to a food processor and pulse a few times until combined. (I was out of breadcrumbs so these are some homemade croutons becoming breadcrumbs).
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Mix in an egg and garlic by hand.
Form into patties & grill
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I served these with spinach, some tzatziki, and mustard on a grilled wheat roll. I liked the creamy component and thought the cukes, garlic, and dill of the tzatziki were really good with the salmon.
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I made 3 burgers out of it and really enjoyed this as something different. The other 2 are frozen and I’m sure will be a great surprise some night when I feel like there’s nothing for dinner.

It stayed together much better than I expected, but I did arm Mr. J with some super duty aluminum foil for the burger on the grill.

I wouldn’t ever order a salmon burger at a restaurant so I think this was a fun/easy one to make at home. I think if a restaurant is cooking my fish I’ll have them taking the tougher method.

Cost Breakdown:

1 pound of salmon: $2.68
breadcrumbs: ~$0.55
lemon for juice: $0.89
roll: $1.59
tzatziki: $0.41
total:  $6.12 (for 3 burgers) or $2.04 each!

Making Crab Rangoons at Home

Even non-fish eaters like crab rangoons and all the guest bloggers I’ve had recently got me inspired to use some wontons.

These were a fun app to make at home, and I liked that I had more control of them…which meant that there was wayyy more crab in them than in those of take-out Chinese restaurants.

Ingredients:

8 oz crabmeat (or imitation crab)
4 oz cream cheese
2 tbs mayo
3 green onions, chopped
splash soy sauce
spash of sesame oil
wonton wrappers

Directions:

Mix crab, cream cheese, mayo, green onions, and sauces together and let sit for 10 minutes.
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Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Stuff each wonton by putting about ½ tsp of filling into the center of the wonton and bringing the corners to meet in the middle. This forms a purse shape. Or put the filling in the center and bring 1 set of opposite corners to meet, forming a triangle.
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Spray lightly with nonstick spray and bake for 10 minutes.

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My triangles oozed a bit, but were much crispier. The purses were really cute and ensured evenly filled bites, but didn’t bake up as crispy. That triangular ooze of crisped crab was amazing. Not that I’d ever taste for the sake of presentation.
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Mr. J LOVES sweet and sour sauce so I bought probably the world’s largest jar at the grocery store (think 40 oz for $2.99). It isn’t quite like take-out Chinese sweet and sour, but I like it better. Want to know the first ingredient? Of course you do!

It is apricots!
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Wow. I never would have guessed. This actually has distinguishable chunks.  I lucked out with the real crab on sale. I bet imitation isn’t bad since that’s probably what the restaurants are using anyway.

Crab Rangoon Cost:

8 oz crabmeat: $6.75 (it was on sale and wasn’t imitation crabmeat)
4 oz cream cheese: $0.75
2 oz mayo: $0.30
green onions: free! (I did this, but note it really only worked once, after that the color was a lot lighter and the flavor was pretty weak)
wontons: $1.25
total: $9.05 for about 24 crab rangoons or about $0.37 per piece.

This beats my local take-out option which sells about 8 for $8.75, though, they do bring it to my door so that has to count for something.

 

Coconutty Shrimp

I spent the better part of one evening going back and forth to the fridge to see if anything for dinner had magically appeared. I was just trying to find something for myself and had no ideas.

Then I finally switched things up and checked out the freezer. When, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a bag of frozen jumbo shrimp. Too early for Christmas quotes? No? Great!

I recalled adding coconut shrimp to my list. Baked Coconut Shrimp it was and there’s no time like the present!
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Ingredients:

6 jumbo shrimp, peeled & deveined
3 tbs cornstarch
1 eggwhite, wisked
¼ cup shredded coconut
¼ cup panko breadcrumbs

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Dredge the shrimp in cornstarch
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Then into the egg white (whisking it makes it more dip-able since egg white stays goopy and stuck to itself.)cocoshrimp_egg_590_390

And finally into the coconut & panko (plain coconut will burn without some breadcrumbs in there)
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Lay on baking sheet. Does mine look small? I put these guys into my toaster oven and set it to bake!
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Bake for 8 minutes, flip, then bake for another 8 minutes.
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Voila!

I wanted something sweet and spicy to dip them in so I again checked the fridge. I did notice a crate of clementines I’ve been eating up the ying yang to keep up with them. Perfect!

I peeled a clementine and added it to a pot. I put in some apple cider, apple jelly, lemon juice, and red pepper flakes. I brought it to a boil and mashed it up a bit then turned the temperature down until the shrimp were ready.
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These were so good and super easy. I figured I could whip them up anytime so I only made enough for myself to eat right then. They’d be great to prep in advance and just bake for guests. I hate frying things because of the mess, the grease, and the timing so baking them was much better. It also makes these a lot lighter.

My sauce needs some perfecting. I think I was on the right track but probably needed to refine the quantities.
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I’ll definitely make these again. My Mum would love them!

Watch Out Now: Food Truck Critique

If you’re not too fooded out from the holiday, here’s a wordy nugget about a fun fall activity. On a whirlwind weekend I managed to fit in my first ever Food Truck Festival. I’m an avid watcher of the Great Food Truck Raceand I enjoy food trucks whenever I can. I was SUPER excited about this festival. It was $5 to get in and I thought it was totally worth it.foodtruck_sign_590_390
Once inside the Suffolk Downs racetrack we saw a swarm of people because it also was a race day. I wonder if they throngs of people would have been there if there weren’t races? It was a beautiful day and so fun.

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I scoped out all the trucks before deciding. I’m not picky but I wanted my choice to be a good one.

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I ended up enduring the line at Lobsta Love. This food truck is normally near Harvard. I was 100% NOT impressed and wouldn’t do it again.

I expected a line. I didn’t expect to wait 25 minutes AFTER ordering for my food. Literally. I timed it. I ordered the lobster mac & cheese but unfortunately I didn’t realize it was going to be instant mac & cheese (minus the instant).

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It’s my own fault that I cheaped out. The sliders were $6 each and seemed very small. While spending some quality time in line (15 min or so)  I couldn’t see the menu and didn’t realize till afterwards that if I had chosen a slider I could have gotten the bisque shot for $1 which would have helped a tiny slider seem like enough.

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Mr. J waited in a line, got a crazy hot dog, ate it, and waited some more with me.

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While we waited and waited and waited, bisque came out of the truck, sliders, rolls, etc all came out. No mac & cheese. I was pretty disappointed when I saw the Annie’s Mac & Cheese powder go in. Bummer. I could have done that myself.

A bunch of us all waiting for mac & cheese asked if it was really coming or what. The owner said yes, but we were told it would take awhile when we ordered. I said no, I’d ordered from him and didn’t hear that. He’d give us our money back. I said I’d already put in 20 minutes of waiting after my order so I’d stick it out. I definitely gave him some ‘tude but he didn’t seem to care that we were waiting a pretty exorbitant amount of time. Watch out now sir, The Three Bite Rule was here!

I think he really could have thrown a few bisque shots our way, or opened the baggies of cookies they were selling to appease us. I’ve always felt really well taken care of when eating at Clover…not so much at Lobsta no-Love.

When I finally got my mac & cheese I was disappointed. There was about 1 normal fork-full of lobster split into about 3 bites. They dump some bisque on top of instant mac & cheese. Bahh. Sorry Lobsta no-Love, you weren’t impressive. Did I think you were cooking and cracking lobsters to order? Nope. Doubt it. How could it have taken so long? I still can’t figure it out.

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Now I’m going below the belt: why do they have a facebook page and a twitter account if they don’t use them? I get it you’re busy, but don’t have them if you a) don’t know how to use them or b) don’t bother to use them.

Anywho, the festival got a lot more fun when Mr. J and I discovered a FAST moving line for cookie ice cream sandwiches! Check ‘em out! Also, they know all about using their facebook and twitter accounts.

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We chose a gingerbread cookie with pumpkin ice cream. AMAZING! We split it and it was plenty. The cookie was perfect. It was strong enough to hold the ice cream but soft enough to bite into. The ice cream? Woah. So good.

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What a great idea…and more importanly, they know how to move their line though. Follow them on twitter or facebook (they know how to use ‘em).

Bottom line for food trucks: don’t run with the big dogs if you can’t keep up!

Honey Limey Shrimpy

Here’s a quick dinner I wanted to share. Today I’m off to NYC for work after only been home from my honeymoon for 10 days. I was away for the weekend too. Phew! What a whirlwind! November definitely quiets down so I can’t wait to get some fall-ish meals going!

One night we thought a his & hers dinner would be good so we shared some roasted asparagus and each made our own thing. I had some grilled shrimp and Mr. J made some beefy thing. Chicken fried steak maybe? The only trick was that I started the asparagus wayyy too early, and my shrimp didn’t take long to cook either. Our tiny kitchen isn’t really conducive to 2 chefs so it didn’t surprise me that the timing wasn’t perfect.
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Anywho, onto my made up marinated & grilled shrimp!

Ingredients

7 shrimp, peeled & deveined (I buy them frozen that way)
1 tbs lime salad dressing (or lime juice)
1 tbs honey
½ tsp chopped garlic
½ tsp crushed red pepper
salt & pepper

Directions

Soak 2 bamboo skewers in water for 5 minutes to avoid splinters
Whisk marinade together and let shrimp rest in it for 10 minutes
Grill 4 minutes on each side, flipping once
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The asparagus was just roasted in the oven with olive oil, salt, and pepper. The shrimp was really delicious. It got a great carmelization from the honey and was perked up from the lime and red pepper.
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I like skewers just for the ease. Do you remember my ‘On A Stick’ appetizer for fried ravioli on a stick? I thought the stick just made it easier. Same story for the grilling.

I don’t always think about shrimp when I’m coming with up a quickie dinner but maybe I should!

Much Needed Scutra for Dinner

Before we return from our honeymoon, I needed to share a drool-worthy meal we had before the wedding.During major wedding planning crunch time we were lacking groceries, we were in need of a date night, and we definitely needed a fun distraction while racking our brains for creative table themes. The wedding wasn’t a DIY affair, but Mr. J designed everything and the table blurbs in frames was our only project. Luckily we had a gift certificate to Scutra in Arlington that was burning a hole in our pockets!
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It was such a blissful and relaxing evening. We got dressed up, kissed the pup goodbye, and headed to our reservation. Of course I scoured the website menu before going and honestly I’m sure I would have enjoyed everything on the menu. Love Mediterranean food!
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I started with the garlic baked muscles. Garlic butter and feta? YES PLEASE! They were beautiful and thought the feta was great for a touch of saltiness.
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Mr. J had the roasted tomato soup with Parmesan encrusted scallops. He just recently started to enjoy scallops and I think the Parmesan crunchy exterior was a perfect contrast in texture for him.
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These aps were awesome and got us really excited for the main dish. Each was a perfect size to leave us adequate room to keep eating!

I got seafood crusted salmon. Oh. My. Goodness. My perfectly pink salmon was topped with crab and lobster. It doesn’t get any better than that. It was served with an asparagus risotto and a pesto drizzle. This was one of the best meals I’ve ever had. It was hot and flavorful. Such a great combination of flavors that didn’t overpower one another.
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Mr. J got a special, and boy was it special. He had 14oz sirloin steak with a butter and raspberry beer sauce over mashed potatoes. Mr. J heard it listed with the specials and was hooked. He loved it and finished every bite.
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I had a crisp chardonnay knowing I’d have seafood for dinner and Mr. J had a final Sam Adam’s summer ale. I enjoyed every bite. This was such a wonderful dinner. Mr. J was happy with his choices and we definitely got dinners we couldn’t/wouldn’t make at home. There was no room for dessert.

The reviews seemed mixed regarding the service and atmosphere. We thought it had a really nice atmosphere, our server was friendly, and I’d be happy to go back anytime. I liked that it was classy and well decorated, allowing us to dress up a bit for a really special meal.

Have you had a meal recently that you just thoroughly enjoyed AND appreciated happening right when you needed it? This was one for me. I’ll be back next week with LOTS of tastes to relay from my trip to Spain & Italy! Stay tuned!