Monday, August 29, 2005

Bolo - New York, NY

This past weekend, my friend War and I celebrated his birthday by checking out Iron Chef Bobby Flay’s restaurant, Bolo. Bolo is a modern contemporary Spanish restaurant located in the Flatiron district of New York City. After eating at Mesa Grill and watching numerous episodes of Iron Chef America, I wanted to see if Flay’s Spanish cuisine reigns supreme.

We began our meal by ordering four dishes of tapas:

- Raw tuna, cucumber, mint salad

- Lamb tenderloin with arugula and oven dried tomatoes

- Spanish tortilla with green romesco

- Spanish rice cake w/ shrimp

Prior to making our order, the server mentioned the tapas come in bite size pieces. After a few minutes, our tapas arrived. Although the server warned us, I was a little surprised with the size of the portions. The tuna was cut as thin as paper, the lamb was barely larger than a kernel of popcorn, and the tortilla and Spanish rice cake weren’t much bigger.

For our entrée, War and I both ordered the shellfish and chicken paella with saffron rice, chorizo and green peas. After our not so satisfying appetizer plate, I was a bit concerned about the portion size of our entrée. That was quickly put to rest once they served the paella. It was huge. The paella was served with a lobster tail, crab claw, shrimp, scallops, and chicken. The paella was very flavorful and very good.

I think War and I could have stopped after the paella, but I felt like trying at least one of the interesting items on their dessert menu. A unique aspect of Bolo’s dessert menu are their dessert tapas. War decided on the soft chocolate cake with passionfruit curd and caramelized bananas, mascarpone crepe gratin with grapefruit, and whipped caramel ganache with cocoa nib lace cookie. I was turned off by our tapas appetizer, so I decided to order a full size dessert. My selection was a frozen dark chocolate mousse with shattered caramel and citrus milk chocolate sauce. I didn’t try all of War’s desserts, but I did have a taste of his whipped caramel ganache. The ganache had small speckles of salt laying on top. Typically, a ganache is extremely rich and sweet, but War’s selection had an interesting contrast of sweet and salty. The contrast was a bit too strong for our palettes. My frozen dark chocolate mousse was very rich, and was an excellent selection along with my cappuccino.

All in all, I thought it was a good meal. I do prefer Mario Batali’s restaurants over Flay’s, but he does offer a little bit of a different niche in fine dining. My next Food Network restaurant stop will have to be at Morimoto, but that will have to wait until I can make a trip down to Philadelphia.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Walt Disney World - Orlando, FL

Last week, I took a business trip out to Orlando, Florida for my annual training at Walt Disney World. Most of our meals were served buffet style, and the food wasn't great, but it was edible. Walt Disney World Resorts are not known for their fine dining options, but they do have a few places that may be worth trying. Below are a few of some of their better restaurants:

Victoria and Albert's - Victoria and Albert's is Disney's finest restaurant which is located in the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. It is described as a "very-special-occasion romantic Victorian retreat" which offers nightly harpists, personalized menus, and a long-stem rose for the ladies. I haven't had the urge to go to this restaurant with co-workers, so I haven't tried this place yet.

Bluezoo - Bluezoo is Todd English's contribution to Disney. The Bluezoo is an upscale seafood restaurant located in the Dolphin Hotel. I tried this place last year, and the food tasted fine, but I felt incredibly sick afterwards. I attribute my sickness to the overuse of butter and cream in many of the dishes.

Shula's Steakhouse - Shula's, located in the Dolphin Hotel, is the best steakhouse in the Walt Disney World Resort area. I just went here last Thursday night, so I'll focus on this one. Shula's Steakhouse is known for their steaks, and similar to other steakhouses, one can also find alternatives to beef. They also serve chops, fish, and shelfish, but I don't know anyone who has ordered anything but steak at this place. They offer a number of different cuts of beef, and one can get a steak as small as a 12 ounce filet mignon, or as big as a 48 ounce porterhouse. If you can manage to put down the 48 ounce porterhouse, they'll put your name on a plaque on the wall. I wasn't quite up to the 48 ounce porterhouse challenge, so I decided to go with the 24 ouncer. As usual, I ordered the steak medium rare, and I also got a caesar salad and a number of sides which included, asparagus, a baked potato, hashbrowns, and creamed spinach. The salad wasn't bad, and the sides were pretty tasty. After loading up on salad and bread, my steak came. I checked the inside of my steak, and it was almost cooked all the way through. For a split second, I thought about sending it back, but I decided against it because I know what goes on behind the scenes in a kitchen. Although, it was cooked medium to medium well, the steak tasted good, but not great. This restaurant takes a back seat to most steak places I've been to including Luger's, Sparks, and the Capriccio Grill. All in all, it was a okay meal. I can't was free.