Monday, March 22, 2010

Paul Martin's American Bistro

Paul Martin's American Bistro on Urbanspoon

As I start this review I have just finished reading the reviews of my fellow food bloggers. One of the things I dislike about Urbanspoon is that they don't put an expiration date on reviews. The three bloggers spanned the years - 2007, 2008, 2009. Now I'll be 2010. The thing is, a lot can happen to change over a few months, let alone years. A new chef, owner, providers. Urbanspoon also asks if you 'like' or 'dislike' a restaurant. I'll save my vote for another day after I give the place a second try. For one visit, though, I would give it a 'like'.

The complex where Paul Martin's American Bistro is located also houses a number of other restaurants, so parking is an issue. Upon approach, it was nice to see really comfy, cushiony sofas outside for a waiting area and, because it was still cool, propane heaters. I really liked the interior as well. The lighting is low, but not too much so. But I'm always happy when I survey an interior where I see noise reduction elements. There weren't too many, but I still saw enough fabric around to soften some of the noise and I was easily able to converse without shouting. The colors are dark woods and the decor contemporary, but very nice.

We had made a reservation but were still handed a buzzer and had to wait at the bar for about ten minutes. We were at the far end and the hostess came to get us before we made our way back to the entrance because she wanted us to save the excess travel - our seats were at our end of the restaurant. We were seated at a nice table for two and weren't too close to other tables, a nice distance between all.

Our server was friendly and attentive, having to check on us a few times because we were talking while trying to decide what we wanted. The offered a $30 three-course meal, but I wasn't that hungry and my eye was caught on an entree on the main menu. That being, the Bledsoe pork chop. I'm a big fan of Bledsoe pork and so I immediately claimed that, to the dismay of my friend. He opted for the salmon. Our server did warn us that the pork chop would take a little longer to cook and so don't think that we had been forgotten. He then offered to get us some bread.

This will be another review without pictures because I just had my phone and it didn't flash for some reason.

The pork chop arrived was a lovely sight for my hungry eyes and tummy. It was a double-thick one, about 2 1/2 inches thick! It was covered with a thick, sticky maple glaze. I just wish there had been a bit more as a little side because the pork chop was so thick, you couldn't get a good bit of glaze on each bite-sized cut you ate. The pork was perfectly cooked, so nice and juicy and incredibly tender. There was only a very small bone protruding; you were getting lots of meat. It was served with roasted new potatoes and lightly sauteed shredded Brussel sprouts. I could see my friend drooling and dying to try it, so I was generous with sharing and let him also gnaw the bone at the end.

His cedar plank salmon arrived on a bed of wilted spinach and . The piece of salmon was large and succulent - again, cooked perfectly. It also had wonderful flavor, tasting super fresh like freshly caught that day. Other than that, though, it was pretty plain.

For dessert we chose the banana cream pie. When it comes to dessert I have my favorites, but I also look for the 'something different' on the menu. Here they had the basics: chocolate cake, creme brulee, and a crisp. Besides, I love a good banana cream pie. This wasn't it. Let's start with the crust. It was so hard that it took considerable effort to break through it with a fork. The crust was covered in a thin layer of chocolate to prevent it from getting soggy. Then it had a half inch layer of pastry cream, a thin layer of very thinly slice bananas, and then a good inch of whip cream on top. Sorry, but I like a lot of bananas floating in a nice, light cream. This pastry cream was thick and the bananas barely noticeable. All covered up by the thick whipping cream on top. When it comes to dessert, highlight the important feature and stop covering it up with camouflage (frosting, whipped cream).

So now you see why I would want to go another time before I hit the voting buttons on Urbanspoon. I see potential, both for going up on my list or falling down. Meanwhile, there are other restaurants that will probably vie for my attention and cause me not to venture across town to try it again any time soon.
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