Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Brownstone Restaurant, Idaho Falls, Idaho

Located across from the falls this quaint red brick building invites you in to sample its food and to gaze at the gleaming stainless steel and brass brewing kettles. They brew their own beer and offer it proudly to those who have the desire to taste their flavors; you get a generous glass for a modest price.
The menu features a usual assortment of pub style entrees, from sandwiches, fish & chips, hamburgers and a few main course entrees. There is a salad bar for both vegetable and fruit lovers. Seating is on wooden chairs on un-carpeted floors but the noise level is contained.
We sampled four luncheon items, the Reuben Sandwich, which comes with fries, fried shrimp with fries and cole slaw, the chicken sandwich & fries and fish and chips with cole slaw. I might mention that their portions are larger than usual and the fries are the plank type and you get a more than generous portion, crispy and hot. Each item was nicely presented and the quality and textures was suburb.

You have a choice of serving sizes with the fish two or four pieces, I found the two servings along with the slaw and fries was more than enough to satisfy my hunger. The chicken sandwich was a large breast lightly seasoned, served atop a larger than normal size bun, the reuben was served on dark pumpernickel amply stuffed with corned beef. You got four nice sized pieces of shrimp, which were fried to a golden brown and not over done. I need to mention the cole slaw, which does not have the usual heavy mayonnaise type dressing; it was more of a vinaigrette type dressing, which not only cleansed your pallet but also added just the right crunch and coolness to complement your entrée.

The atmosphere is subdued with ample windows to add just the right amount of light. There appeared to be a small stage perhaps for evening music. The staff was courteous and well knowledgeable about their menu items and their suds. Not being big beer drinkers we were offered a taste of the "brew" to see if it meet with our approval.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Sandpiper, Bench Road, Pocatello, Idaho.

I have dined at this establishment 5 times this year, each time sampling a different dish and those of my guests. This was my sixth visit and perhaps the most interesting. Having just returned from Las Vegas and enjoyed the cuisine of Le Circ, Top of the World and The Paris. I still had ingrained in my psyche the meaning of quality and service. Sadly this last visit to the Sandpiper left much to be desired. When one orders an alcoholic beverage and specifically asks for a brand name, one would assume that you would be able to taste a difference let alone if any alcohol was present. Not only did my Grey Goose martini lack taste, my daughters Grey Goose & tonic was just tonic.

She took both back to the bar to have them replaced, what she encountered was a rebuff from the bartender who basically told her nothing was wrong with the drinks. She insisted and he finally made two other drinks while my daughter watched. These were "real" drinks and we enjoyed them. We ordered our usual appetizer, which is the hot and spicy calamari, which was superb. If you like it spicy I suggest you try this one. We ordered our entre and both opted for the house salad, now I mention this because as I stated before I have dined at this restaurant many times and know what to expect. This time we got a scant scattering of your basic iceberg lettuce, about 8 small square croutons, one slice of cucumber and a wedge of tomato, nothing to write home about.

They do furnish you with a small loaf of crusty bread and a saucer of seasoned cheese and oil, which as things go is not bad, but not great either. One must consider just what is expected of dunking your bread into a dish of oil and cheese; it’s ok as I stated but not much else.
Our main dishes came not too much later, my daughter got the Ahi Tuna, crusted in Sesame seeds, and I ordered the Hazelnut crusted Halibut with the butter sauce. We both ordered the steamed vegetables. The tuna, although not the usual size of past orders was done as she specified, and my Halibut was just slightly over done, dry but still palatable and considering I was starving, I was going to ignore that part and eat it. However upon forking one green bean from my newly arrived plate, I discovered it was ice cold, as were the other veggies on the dish. Now I usually just pass this off to lousy kitchen staff and will reflect this in my blogs, however my daughter took that one green bean up to the receptionist and had her touch it, her comment was, "That’s ice cold!" Voila. We asked for the manager. By now we were not in the mood to finish our dinner, even though each of us had only taken two bites of the fish. I had ordered a glass of wine. It was a house wine, not bad, and that I did finish.

We met the manager who when informed of our situation, started off my rebuking us by saying, "I don’t think you got bad drinks at all. We make quality drinks here. And secondly, don’t you think your slightly over acting to this, after all things sit and do get cold ?" So, after that rude rebuff, we both told hime we were not paying for the entrees. We told him we would pay for the drinks, and the appetizer but nothing else. He was unpleasant and simply dismissed us with a wave of his hand and the plates. We were presented with our bill and not so much as an apology, or please try something else. The only thing he could do was go and chit chat with the gentleman sitting next to our table and proceeded to ignore us and though we were invisible.
If you are the type to ignore bad quality food and pay the bill, by all means visit and eat, but beware if you voice a concern. I do want to add that the waiting staff were pleasant and were the only delightful thing during that encounter.