Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Making A Bad Night Right

Last Friday night was officially dubbed as Booze Night. I have been (relatively) good the entire week, so I wanted to reward myself with a little bit of partying. Earlier in the week we were already informed of a friend’s event at Tabu, so Matt and I decided that we will drop by, at least for a few drinks. After having trouble deciding on where to have dinner, we eventually made up our mind that we would also just have dinner at Tabu.

Upon our arrival, though, we noticed that the place was set-up for a major- and I mean MAJOR- event. I initially thought that it would just be like any Friday night, with maybe the occasional TV camera and sporadic drinking game. As it turned out, tables were pushed to the side to make way for banners, a giant spinning wheel and a portable bar, klieg lights and promo girls were everywhere. Not the nice cozy dinner I was thinking of.

Slightly disappointed and hungry, we decided to move to La Regalade, which was just a couple of minutes drive from Tabu. The place is somewhat significant to me and Matt since, right after he proposed, this was where I took him to dinner (He got me a ring, after all. The least I could do is to buy him some food.). I admit that I was not at all impressed the first time, which I attributed to “opening night” jitters. They have only been around for two weeks at the time, so I was thinking they were still adjusting. Quite normal for any establishment, that was why I held out until after a few months to make a return visit and see how they have improved.

Arriving a few minutes before nine in the evening, Matt and I were immediately shown to our table by their receptionist. I love how this restaurant is decorated- casual by nature but spiffy enough for a date, with gorgeous lighting and smart accessorizing.

The menu is written on black boards spread out all over the room, but for those with bad eyesight and strained necks, the server would be happy to bring two moveable blackboards where they have jotted down all their menu items. They also have several specials to choose from, which this time was written on the blackboard on top of the kitchen counter.

To start, Matt opted for the Onion Soup while I chose the Foie Gras Salad. We have nothing but good things to say about the soup… Full onion flavor, perfectly seasoned… delicious! Very hearty and satisfying, this is the kind of soup you would want on a cold, rainy day.

As for the salad, what can I say? It’s tangy. Maybe I was expecting too much, but it just lacked that special “something” that most people would expect of a foie gras dish.

To share with TG-Boy and The Body, we ordered the Lamb Stew and one-half Roasted Duck, accompanied by Potato Gratin and Ratatouille.

The lamb stew was a huge disappointment. When we ordered it the first time, I remember it being not half as bad. This time around, the meat was not even close to fork-tender and the sauce was lacking in complexity. Matt angrily described this dish as “inedible”.

The roast duck was, at least, not bad. I liked how the sweetness of the pears complimented the succulent duck meat, which was cooked just right in a flavorful sauce. “It tastes like Pata Tim (a braised pork dish from China),” The Body observed.

TG-Boy and I shared a medium-bodied Bordeaux- a 2005 Madiran Domaine Berthoumieu. Although a bit too light in the middle for me, this was very easy to drink, and went quite well with the duck.

The service was slightly better this time around, although our server seemed slightly confused at times. Also, when we were trying to get a server’s (ANY SERVER would do, for Pete’s sake!) attention, some would subtly avert their eyes or look busy to avoid being called.

We left feeling a bit cranky after that dinner. The food and service just did not live up to all that hype. So, to lighten the mood, we had only one plan: GET TOTALLY WASTED.

We returned to Tabu with the urgency of three (The Body was recovering from the flu and decided to rest) recovering alcoholics who have fallen off the wagon. There we met Cosmopolicious and her D, followed shortly by Papa Tims and TG-Boy’s old friend, P. Papa Tims (Yes, he is somebody’s daddy. But that’s not why we call him that.) casually mentioned that he was going to the Armin Van Buren event at The World Trade Convention Center, and so I- having had more than enough alcohol to disinfect an entire hospital ward- along with the other equally-inebriated members of that group, decided that we should move the party there.

As we approached the reception desk at the event to pay the entrance fee, Papa Tims “magically” got all of us in for free. He claims that his cousins still had extra tickets “just lying there” at the reception. We thanked him profusely for hooking us up, as we contentedly giggled like drunken gerbils while our pink bracelets were being slapped around our wrists.

We arrived right on time for Armin's set. The music was phenomenal, and the crowd was a good mix of young and- ehem- "slightly older" party animals. Needless to say, we had tons of fun, and no pictures to prove it, unfortunately. Luckily, the raucous time we had with our friends more than made up for the dissatisfying dinner that preceded it.


Miguel said...

La Regalade will have to do a lot of catching up. I've not heard anything but dissapointments and mediocre service/food from this place.

I was going to give it another try after i was also quite disspointed the first time but I may not return.

Chinkee said...

Hi Miguel! Yeah they're really not living up to all the hype. Sayang because they already have a lot going for them... Great-looking interiors, good press, perfect location. If only they can get it together and work on the aspects that really matter- food and service.

Again, sayang...

Miguel said...

Ya - the only this has is good PR/Press. Check this outr - sent to me after I ate there:

i found this NYTimes article on him which was published 21 years ago. More specifically, it is about how chef Alain Rayé learned the hard way that Michelin stars don't necessarily follow the chef. It also stated that he didn't have 2 Michelin stars, as almost every press release and local article written about him so far has reported. He had one star which he lost in 1986 when he moved from Albertville to Paris. The "Restaurant Alain Raye" didn't get the Michelin Star the chef was hoping for. That folded and he eventually moved to Vancouver, Canada where he worked as chef in Smoking Dog and Café de Paris before opening La Regalade in early 2002 where he a co-owner and chef.

Noel said...

My impression from the times I've been there is that it's more a place frequented "to see and be seen" (funny, because it really is a dressed-up bistro - a brasserie at most). It doesn't/hasn't struck me as a place dyed-in-the-wool "foodies" -or even serious winos -would frequent.

Not this present company, anyway.


Chinkee said...

Miguel- Yes, Noel forwarded that e-mail to me. That's really shady, man.

Chinkee said...

Hi Noel! Yes, I know what you mean about the "see-and-be-seen" vibe. I have a feeling people are catching on though... When we had dinner there on a Friday night, I was shocked how fast we were seated without a reservation. It looked pretty empty...

Its sad... I really don't like writing bad reviews, but the food really pissed me off.

Cosmopolicious said...

why are we so yellow??!! hahaha...

Chinkee said...

Haha! I must have used a different setting... It actually looks more clubbish, don't you think?:-)