Month: March 2017

The Table: Casual Class, Sad Risotto

Saturdays are great for doing many things, be they fixing the various broken/malfunctioning things that a busy workweek not allow time for or just sitting on a park bench watching your children play at the local park. They’re also great days for going to places that thirty minute work lunches otherwise prohibit, such as a casual sit-down restaurant that just opened up downtown.

The Restaurant: Cooking Food So You Don’t Have To

Promising simple, well-made food from quality ingredients is nothing new, as the less-is-more trend is nothing new in the culinary world. However, for the area, a new face promising such things is always a welcome break from the well-tread landscape saturated by fast food chain restaurants.

The Good: Replacing the well-loved Mac’s on Main, there are many great things to look forward to at The Table. Immediately after entering through the familiar heavy wooden doors, one is greeted by a well-thought out, striking blue-grey with white trim aesthetic, tasteful lighting using the currently trendy retro light bulbs with the long elements and the bold, golden glow to cast a welcoming warmth and adding to the overall casual atmosphere. Above the bar, a mounted bicycle accompanies the confident message that The Table is the best place place for breakfast, lunch and dinner. A bold claim indeed.

Wait times were short, fortunately, which was a relief since the first question after the initial greeting was whether or not we had a reservation. After a five to ten minute wait, a table that had been sitting bare for the entire time we were waiting. No matter, we were sat, drinks and appetizer ordered within five to ten minutes of arriving. Initially, we were a tad suspicious of the recommended tomato tart, worrying about the possibility of the eggs overtaking the flavor of everything else. Thankfully wrong we were, as the tomatoes truly shined, a sweet star setting high expectations for the entrees yet to come with its flaky crust, the right amount of eggs and oh, the tomatoes! Honestly, if I wanted a light lunch, I’d take the tart with a trio of well-prepared scallops or perhaps the hanger steak that came with the other entree ordered.

Not long after the appetizer was finished, the main stars of the evening arrived. For the tot, a meal of a grilled cheese sandwich and a side of thyme and salt seasoned fries as what she really wanted, a stack of pancakes, were not available to order for dinner. As for the girlfriend, she ordered what was to be the true celebrity of the evening, an exquisite hanger steak, prepared rare accompanied by mashed red potatoes, Rockefeller butter and grilled vegetables. Beautifully prepared to order, the steak was tender, juicy and a melt-in-your mouth delight. When paired with the potatoes, vegetables and butter, culinary bliss was achieved.

The Bad: Being a off-and-on watcher of Hell’s Kitchen, I was quite happy to see a dish that contained two of the staples used to test the mettle of contestant’s culinary might: scallops and risotto. After the exquisite heirloom tomato tart and locally-brewed pale ale had come and gone, I was excited to see what these often difficult to pull off menu items had in store. I’d like to say that my taste buds went on a journey of delicate flavors, well-defined textures and satisfying finish. Unfortunately, such was not the case, with the scallops being rubbery and the risotto mushy with both completely devoid of flavor.

Neither entree item was helped by the heavy dusting of breadcrumbs, which gave the risotto the appearance of snow with a heap of sand on top. On the menu, it mentions royal trumpet mushrooms and brie to be in the risotto. Aside from a tiny sliver the size of my thumbnail, no further trace of mushroom was present and the almost non-existent brie is a tad too subtle for me.

What really saddened me was that, for the first time in almost thirty-two years, I had to send a dish back to be re-prepared. Upon re-preparation, the scallops were properly cooked, if not particularly flavorful and the risotto was relatively the same. It is my hope that a new batch of risotto was made after the dish was sent back. For the price of this one dish, I could have eaten four spicy chicken sandwiches, all of which would have had twice the texture and flavor I was expecting from the risotto. With the breaded chicken, the breading would have helped; with the risotto, the breadcrumbs seem to be an attempt to hide the lack of flavor and underwhelming texture in what should have been a shining example of a upscale casual dining experience.

By far the biggest disappointment, as I had been anxious to try risotto ever since first hearing about it and watching it being made on television. This disappointment was made all the more striking by the fact that even my daughter’s simple plate of grilled cheddar on ciabatta and fries with just the right amount of salt and thyme. How does a kid’s meal at five dollars taste better that a fancier meal that costs more than three and a half times as much?

Conclusion: Though Gordon Ramsay would have spat the risotto out and called the chef a donkey or something worse, I still have high hopes for this restaurant and want it to succeed. Hopefully, this experience was a fluke, a bad night in the history of a restaurant still going through the settling process after opening. If I had gone by myself and had nothing else to base my experience on, I wouldn’t be going back. However, despite the failure of my dish to impress, everything else was more than enough to ensure a return visit in about six months or so, to see if tonight was more than a one-time occurrence.

Rating: 3.5/5

Pew Pew, Snap Snap: An Adventure in Polymer

Choices, Choices…

For the longest time, I didn’t particularly care much for any part of the machined steel top and molded polymer frame that comprises what is arguably one of the most popular handguns in the world. “Too boxy,” declared I. Decided when my first held pistol was none other than the equally world-famous Beretta 92FS which, in addition to being a reliable handgun, also boast what many argue is a fine-tuned, curvy aesthetic, a stark contrast to the no-nonsense, no-need-for-the-frills box shape of every Glock in existence. It wasn’t until I became more familiar with everything that could be done and just how flexible the weapon system was, converting from a simple sidearm to almost anything one could want with only a few interchangeable parts and for the really fancy-pants crowd, a little bit of gunsmithing. Want to shoot only 22LR? There’s a mod for it. 50GI? If you have one of Gaston’s 10mm varieties, there is a mod for that too. Want a carbine to shoot longer range? Simple change of the slide can make this happen. Have crappy ammo that you got at some two bit Fuddtastic gunshow? It’ll eat it with glee and ask for more.

Circlejerk and poetic waxing aside, through exposure, education and extensive handling during my last position as a gun salesman, I knew a Glock was in my future. The only question was… which one? The newish wunderkind and every Glock EDC aficionado’s wet dream G43? The hunting sidearm, hand cannon and 50AE candidate G20? MOS or regular sights? In the end, much like any Honda fanatic who started with a Civic will tell you, it’s all about the basics. Just as Honda has their Civic, about the only real comparison that transcends audiences in terms of functionality and upgrade/modification markets are even close to that of the austrian lead flinger, most Glock enthusiasts start with the G17, first in the lineup and grandfather to everything else that bears the now-infamous moniker of Glock. Needing a firearm to fill the 9mm Luger hole I, too, chose to start with model 17.

Why a Glock? It was not an easy choice, but one that was roughly three to four years in the making. For quite a while, I wanted something that was chambered in 9mm. Not necessarily for any reason aside from cost of ammunition and magazine capacity, both of which are factors to consider when shooting in competitions, which often mandate ~150-200 rounds per match and at least for IDPA, have rounds that require more than the 8-11 rounds carried by your standard .40 S&W or .45 ACP pistols, thus requiring a time-consuming reload and degrading overall end results. Prior to the Glock, I was using my trusty Beretta 96 which, though familiar, was limited in its capacity and at least competition, not all that competitive, especially against lighter, faster and higher capacity adversaries. If it were true, I’d say it held its own against the sole revolver competitor, but he isn’t known as Master Long for nothing. A new solution was required.

Enter the search for a new contender. Now, my lackluster IDPA results didn’t spur the search for a suitable 9mm, though it definitely placed a little more urgency on coming to a suitable conclusion. Much weighing of the different features and possibilities was done. As sexy as the 96 and 92FS are, I couldn’t help but lean towards the 17, even with the shiny curves and striking, almost-obsessive familiarity with the weapon system fostered by eight years of almost daily carry. Nothing says I won’t be getting one eventually, but for the foreseeable future, the G17 will be my competition firearm of choice.

Range Report: Paper Enemies Tremble

Buying the weapon was the beginning of making the decision to use it for IDPA/Steel shooting. Two hundred rounds, five thoroughly perforated targets and one shootingWon't you donate even one dollar to save this poor target and his family? lane hanger later my mind was made up. Loading the weapon’s magazine with the last two rounds is still a bit of a pain and the trigger’s slightly heavier than I’d like it (a 3.5 pound trigger kit should remedy that problem nicely), but once I became used to these minor issues, the pistol shot like a dream. Not a single stovepipe, double feed or failure to fire/eject was encountered though all two hundred rounds put through the pistol in the course of the hour. I’m sure the targets complained, but as there were quite a few others at the indoor range, no one heard their screams. Although this fine fellow on the right was but the first of many punched full of holes, I was surprised that his fellow targets all looked much the same, with variance due to my focus on certain aspects of marksmanship like only head shots, keeping the groupings as tight as I could while shooting at 5/7/15m and other self-imposed challenges.

 

The Future is Full of Mods

Since it is almost infinitely customizable, I do foresee many a customization coming to this pistol very soon. Almost all of them will be internal in nature, as the aesthetics have grown on me since first holding one many years ago. As mentioned above, a lighter trigger will be first, along with a polished feed ramp. Fortunately, I was able to acquire a Gen4 that already had AmeriGlo GL-201 night sights installed, so no need for new sights at the moment. I originally wanted a Gen3, as the side grip texture feels odd in my hand, but I predict it, too, will grow on me as more and more rounds are expelled from its barrel towards its enemies, paper, cardboard, fibreboard and steel alike.

 

TL;DR: I bought a Glock. It shoots good, pew pew.