Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Lemongrass Asian Bistro (2 1/2 Forks, $10-20)

Lemongrass is a favorite among many people I know, which explains why they now have four locations from Fort Lauderdale to Boynton Beach. Lemongrass's real appeal is not the food nor the setting, it is the menu. The lunch menu is diverse and well priced. Their dinner menu is inspired, innovative, and exciting. Where else can you get the Lobster Monster sushi roll, topped with double lobster tails, or the Extremely Rainbow roll made with Alaskan King Crab and topped with a variety of fish?

The lunch menu ranges from $6.95 to $11.95 and has the perfect amount of variety and different price points to appeal to any customer. The servings are generous and I appreciate the little extras, like the choice of appetizer that comes with most meals. I highly recommend the Bento boxes, which offer a sampling of both Sushi and Thai. The Pad Thai Bento nestles cold sesame noodles, salad with ginger dressing, a generous portion of Chicken Pad Thai, half of an Inside Out (IO) California Roll with sesame seed, along with your choice of mixed Sushi (sliced raw fish atop mounds of sticky rice) or Sashimi (sliced raw fish). I have never been able to finish it entirely, so it would be appropriate for a very hearty eater.

Another favorite lunch offering is the Double Sushi Rolls, which gives you your choice of two basic rolls, including my favorite Spicy Tuna. They have Sushi meals and Sashimi meals as well. I have enjoyed but not been wow-ed by the Sushi I have tasted at Lemongrass. I would like it to be fresher and bolder. The rolls are looser than they should be.

If you are just in the mood for Thai, Lemongrass offers several Thai entrees, including Red Curry, Panang Curry, Volcano Chicken, Basil Chicken, and Shrimp with Peanut Sauce, among others. They usually have a special of the day which has been fish every time I have visited. The Thai dishes I have eaten were tasty but not authentic. They seem heavier and less subtley flavored than I would like. The Pad Thai is saucy, with a reddish tint that is unusual to me. Although certainly edible, I will not order the Panang Curry here. This is a dish I truly love and it does not meet my expectations at Lemongrass. Here the peanuts overwhelm. The dish is missing the flavorful blend of peanut, curry, coconut milk, basil, and lime leaves that I look for.

Lemongrass is a growing restaurant chain, which started in a tiny corner of a plaza in Boca as Sushi Thai Cafe. From its humble charming roots emerged the hip cool Lemongrass appropriate for its new setting in Boca's upscale Royal Palm Plaza. But hip and cool is not so appealing to me. Immediately turned off by the cold pristine interior, I prefer the outside tables in Boca. The new Boynton Beach location is dark and sleek and equally cold. I find the setting dismal and depressing but perhaps a younger hipper crowd would approve. I also despise the music selection, which sounds like a creepy nightclub. Who wants that thump thump thump when they are trying to enjoy a meal?

I have had several meals at Lemongrass and I will go back. But they need to work on the setting and flavor before I can thoroughly recommend it.

Here is the website with complete menu. http://www.lemongrassasianbistro.com/boca/about.html

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Houstons (3 forks/$23pp)

Houston's food never disappoints. After close to a hundred meals there, I can attest that Houston's serves consistently good food. And, their service is remarkable. It is the standard by which I measure other restaurants. Consistently good food. Consistently good service. Consistently comfortable atmosphere. And today's lunch was no exception.

My grilled mahi-mahi sandwich was well-seasoned and moist. As I bit in, with the juices running down my hands, I noted to myself that this was a perfectly cooked fish. The chef's special sauce on the sesamed bun is a pumped-up tartar sauce, with dill. Two large perfect and tasty tomato slices made an already messy sandwich even messier, but even more delicous as well. The accompanying french fries are worth a trip in themselves. Why are they so good? I can't tell. The oil, the potato, what, what?!?!? All I know is that they define what I want in a french fry, thin, crispy but not too crispy, and salted just right. They are irresistable. Needless to say, I polished off my entire meal (and practically licked the plate). Pity, because Houston has a killer chocolate brownie topped with nuts.

If you are not a fish person, no problem. The best Houston's sandwich, and sadly most calorie-laden, is a cheeseburger. The best cheeseburger! I am not a burger person, but when I want a burger, these are the burgers I want. They are thick, moist, tasty, and most importantly, not disgusting, like so many other burgers are. The Thai Steak and Noodle Salad, one of several salads on the menu, has the most addictive dressing I have ever tasted. It is spicy and loaded with basil and cilantro, two of my favorite herbs. The chunks of mango in the salad are hidden jewels that you don't want to share with your lunch date. I also frequently order the Veggie Plate, which has 2 vegetables of the day and your favorite starch. I always opt for the spicy flavorful black beans with brown rice, rather than the standard couscous.

Houstons is probably most famous for its unbeatable Spinach Artichoke Dip. I have been known to order this just for myself, it is so good. The Chilled Shrimp starter offers a dozen or so large shrimp boiled and chilled and served with the Chef's tasty tartar sauce and a cocktail sauce.

If Houston's has any problem, it is in the pricing. I understand Houston's is good, but do I really have to pay $20 for a grilled fish sandwich with fries and an ice tea? This is no gourmet restaurant and I don't want to pay gourmet prices! For that reason alone, Houstons is a once-in-a-while place instead of a regular.

Check out the menu here http://www.hillstone.com/pdf_menus/houstons/Houstons_Boca_Raton.pdf.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

PF Chang's (3 forks/$16pp)

I am coming down with a cold and feeling antisocial today. Ah ha! An opportunity to blog about P.F. Chang's wonton soup! P.F. Chang's is the one place everyone seems to like. I usually go with large groups and share dishes - my favorite way to dine. I am usually so thrilled at the prospect of eating the Orange Peel Shrimp with the perfect Brown Rice, that I have trouble looking at anything else. But today was all about soup.

First, the bad news. For some reason they only sell this soup by the bowl ($7). The "bowl" is actually more of a casserole dish. I know you won't beleive me, and my photo didn't work out, but this "bowl" is at least a half gallon of soup. It is the perfect size for sharing with a family, but more than a meal in itself for one person.

Now, the good news. The broth has such depth of flavor that I would eat it without any embellishment. But, this soup is way beyond broth. It is loaded with shrimp, chunks of white meat chicken, sliced button mushrooms, and fresh spinch leaves. The "bowl" contains about a dozen plump wontons as well. I realize that the recipe is far from authentic, but it earns the spot as the best wonton soup I have ever tasted.

I also ordered an appetizer of fried green beans($5) for a little crunch on the side. These were sparingly battered and fried and served with a spicy remoulade-like sauce. While they were tasty, they certainly did not deserve the "as addictive as potato chips" citation on the menu. They were a bit greasy for my taste and I would not order them again. Still, I somehow managed to polish off half the generous plateful. Next time, I will get the fried wontons. They aren't on the menu, but they are freshly prepared and provided with a yummy sweet dipping sauce.

I left full, happy, and with enough soup for tomorrow's lunch. If there is a P.F. Chang's in your vicinity, go, go, go!

P.F. Chang's China Bistro on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 14, 2008

We loved the weather but unfortunately not the food. The bread was barely edible & the dishes were way too salty. My veal was extemely tender & tasty but also on the salty side. The soup was just "a bowl of beans". Very dissapointing & very exepensive. We will defintely be trying the restaurant next door "Opus 5" in the very near future. I love fine dining & I am very unhappy when I do not enjoy the meal. The service was also very slow & not attentive.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Cucina D'Angelo (2 forks/$21pp)

We visited Cucina D'Angelo (http://cucinadangelo.com/) today for lunch. The weather was perfect for a delicious italian lunch and our table overlooked a fountain and peaceful courtyard. The menu was fantastic and the server was pleasant. The day seemed ideal for trying this highly-rated restaurant.

We were drooling for bread as we walked past Opus 5's bread basket and were quite disappointed when our hard cold tasteless slices came out with icy hard butter. The pasta fagiole was more a bowl of salty beans than soup.

Joanne was tempted by the daily special ($16.95) with soup or salad, veal or fish of the day, and pasta. She chose the veal, which the waiter declared the best in Boca. The plate was a bit small for the price, but Joanne declared the veal very tender. It was served in a red sauce with mushrooms aside angelhair.

I opted for the classic Linguine al Vongole ($16.95) and had two major complaints. First, the dish was over seasoned - too salty to enjoy. Second, the dish was prepared as Pasta al Oglio, with browned sliced garlic in oil. Where were the red pepper flakes, the parsley, and the sauce? This dish was crying for lemon, which was not provided. Where did that pleasant server go? On the plus side, plenty of clams were in the dish. I almost forgot to mention that the pasta was not lingiune but spagetti.

Overall, on a day when everything was working in this restaurant's favor, we were served a very disappointing meal. The service, while pleasant, was very slow and negligent. We took almost 2 hours for lunch. My most hated dining moment is when you are made to wait for the check, as we did at lunch today. We won't be going back there. One salty dish could be forgivable, but when two dishes come out salty, you have to suspect the chef's taste is off.

After tax and tip the lunch cost $21/person, an unsavory end to an unsatisfying lunch. At least we discoverred Opus 5, which is definitely on the list for a future visit! Aside from the scrumptious bread basket, we spied luscious-looking salmon and salads. The menu is also appealing. We will post it soon......