Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Three For The Road Visit Two Gems

Neil and Eric have gotten together with Lisa a couple of times in the last two months and I was a little antsy.  The first time I didn’t return home because I was still patrolling.  Alexa let me in for dinner.  The second time I decided I needed to check around for the squawky, flapping things that need to be taken down from time to time.  I ran out, came back later, and Neil and Eric weren’t too happy with me.  Lisa had, however, brought me a treat, which I saved until the next morning.  It was very nice, though I haven’t had a chance to thank her.

Orchids at Palm Court

The Bar area of the Palm Court
The Dining Room of Orchids at Palm Court
      Orchids at Palm Court (35 West Fifth Street) across from
the lobby of the Hilton Netherland Hotel is 
the top restaurant in
the region and Lisa generously took us
there for our birthdays.  Orchids’ location is prime downtown real estate as it’s on the second floor
of Carew Tower, the historic early 1930s landmark and a contemporary of the Empire State Building.  The setting, simultaneously grandiose yet elegant, reflects sleek Art Deco architectural lines combined with large mural-type paintings around the second storey of the space that conjure up French pastoral scenes of the 18th century.  This masculine-feminine dichotomy is evident in the huge mahogany columns and the spectacular bar area set against the furnishings and carpets that are in a palette of rose, pink, and lilac.

The Mâche Salad

      The à la carte menu features up to four courses and there are two five course tasting menus.  We shared an order of the Blue Cheese Beignets, which are savory, feathery donut holes.  Neil and Lisa ordered the Mâche Salad and I had the Crispy Pork Belly.  There were smoky notes on the seared piece of pork that played off well against the sweet fat.
Red Snapper En Papillote
The entrées we ordered were Red Snapper “En Papillote”, the ‘paper’ a light crêpe-type crust; Loup de Mer (a heavier fish akin to bass) with scallops and caramelized broccoli; and the New York Strip Loin with Périgourdine and Chive Gnocchi.  They were excellent, though the Snapper was outstanding.  The service is both formal and understated so there isn’t the sense that if a waiter inadvertently drops a fork, he’ll be fired on the spot.  The dessert 
cart is pretty much
Caramel Frozen Soufflé
with Cranberries
a triumph and we were fortunate to limit ourselves to the Mille Feuille with fried banana slices, pralines, and gelato, and the Caramel Frozen Soufflé with cranberries.  Although both dishes were studied, they weren’t fussy.  

      This is a special occasion restaurant, though a diner can get out at about $60 with three courses, tax and tip, and no wine.  For a place of this magnitude, it’s actually a good deal.

Orchids at Palm Court on Urbanspoon

Gordos Pub & Grill

      Everyone has a burger joint that he’s discovered and it’s absolutely the best!  Ours is Gordo’s (4328 Montgomery Road) in Norwood, owned by Chef Raymond Gordo, which has been open a couple of years.  It’s a warm, wood paneled sports bar and restaurant that has a sizable regular crowd and a number of Xavier students.

The Jean-Robert and Pub Burgers
The menu includes a range of sandwiches and entrées.  However, the two items to order are whatever daily soup is offered and one of the ½ 1b burgers with the cottage cut fries.  The burgers are cooked to order and they’re idiosyncratic in their toppings.  Chopped onions, bacon, and compote are cooked into each burger, mainly as a way to moisten the meat and add both a smoky and sweet undertone.  There are nine topping choices ranging from sea food,  grape compote with blue and goat cheeses, roasted poblanos, bananas with PB&J, and a chocolate stout mushroom sauce.  They serve lunch and dinner (10 p.m. on weekdays, 11 p.m. on weekends).

Gordo's Pub & Grill on Urbanspoon

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