Wednesday, February 14, 2007

So while the city of Ithaca is snowed in, and classes are cancelled for what seems like the first time in school history, I will use my time productively to update this site, instead of, say, doing homework. So one day, I am minding my own business, when I get an email from the famed Bollywood star, N. He proposes a lunch with a couple mystery guests (recipient list suppressed through the nifty Bcc: feature). Now, one does not turn down an opportunity to dine with N. The degree of his fame is unfathomable; in fact, I cannot even wrap my simple mind around it. So last Saturday, I decide to wake up before noon and embark on this adventure.

I walk down College Ave. and climb into a dark SUV, consisting of L, C, D, and N himself. I feel as if I have just walked on a proverbial icy red carpet, all the while shunning the papparazzi who are compelled to snap photos with flash, even in the blinding Ithaca sun. We drive down one long road, and finally arrive at Olivia, where the only other patrons are around 40 years older. I feel right at home with this crowd, who are half drunk on their mimosas. My only life aspiration is to be invited to dine with this vibrant, rebellious crowd.

Although we are only a party of five, we decide we are ballers and order nearly everything on the menu.

Braised beef empanadas - local ancho-braised beef with braised kale, & house bbq sauce 8

I was quite excited to see these Puruvian pockets of beef on the menu. However, I was disappointed to find the filling crumbly and dry. The beef could also have been marinated more; I would have liked to rely on the filling for flavor rather than the barbeque sauce, which was too salty.

Fried sticky rice - avocado cakes, edmame salad, soy-wasabi vinaigrette 8

This interesting sounding menu item was less tasty than I anticipated. Unseasoned sticky rice comes wrapped in a thin layer of fried batter, drizzled with a soy wasabi vinaigrette. The dressing, though less spicy than desired, was fine, but did not adequately season the puck of limp, white rice. Even sushi rice or something could have worked better here.

Warmed brie with pear-pecan pesto & crostini 7

This was the best appetizer of the three. What is not to love about some warmed, gooey cheese? Apparently nothing, because Naveen started to eat his brie straight up, with only sprinkles of crostini.

Grilled chicken club with avocado, bacon, tomato, red onion, & creamy gorgonzola on sourdough 10

Entrees fared better than appetizers. The chicken club was standard but solid, with some moist, lightly flavored chicken with crispy bacon and a cheesy condiment on not one, but two slices of bread.

3 Cheese Panini melted manchego, brie, local goat cheese, with onion, & tobasco aioli, in a crispy wrap 9

Naveen, lover of cheeses, decided to go for none other than the three cheese panini. It surely was cheesy, which made the panini too salty, with little bread to balance. I would have preferred this using the rolls that Whole Foods uses in their paninis. I assume with your attention to detail, that you have also noticed the fine arm of N. Now as I pull up my mental photo album of bank logos, his shirt color matches up exactly with GS's soothing yet classy soft blue. Well played, N, well played.

Salmon BLT pan seared, organic salmon with bacon, lettuce, tomato, & aioli on sourdough 13

This was perhaps my favorite sandwich of the day. Barely cooked, creamy salmon comes with crispy bacon sandwiched between soft, grilled sourdough for some nice texture contrast. What I liked most was that I got to taste every ingredient, especially the salmon, which was wonderfully undercooked.

Roasted portabella with local feta, kalamata salsa, onion, tomato, & balsamic, on sourdough 9

The portabella was pretty standard, though I would have liked more mushroom to balance out the salsa and feta. The thin slices did not suffice against the overload of parsley and onion.

French Toast orange-creme batter, sour cherries, goat cheese 9

We opted for one brunch item, and the french toast turned out to be quite decent, but it was lacking that delicately crispy exterior that Canteen does so well. I did enjoy the sour cherries, though.

Banana Split 7

As if we hadn't eaten enough, we asked for desserts, as per the baller style. The banana split comes with scoops of sour cherry and toasted marshmallow ice cream, candied walnuts, and a chocolate and banana spring roll. I was not too big a fan of the spring roll, which seemed superfluous and random being paired with sour cherry. Pleasantly, this "ice cream" turned out more to resemble sorbet, but I found myself avoiding huge pieces of hard, frozen cherries that were difficult to eat.

Pot of chocolate

It looks small, but packs in a bit of flavor, reminiscent of my pot de creme I had at 1550 Hyde. The chocolate, though rich and smooth, could surely have been more bitter. I also would have liked some creme fraiche instead of out-of-the-can whipped cream.

Apple-thyme tart 8

Along with the chocolate pot, the apple tart was one of the dessert specials of the day. I was disappointed to find the tart itself limp and undercooked, and the apple slices too soft. The caramel and honey were also a bit too much for this already sweet tart, which was noticeably absent of any thyme accent. Unlike the pot of chocolate, this was a miss.

381 Pine Tree Road
Ithaca, NY 14850



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oooh~ you take really nice pictures..makes me miss my camera =/ The really expensive one I returned from Costco. I love how all the restaurants are now omitting dollar signs from their menus..for example "Papaya spring rolls...7" I think it's a sneaky way for them to get diners to forget that they're actually spending that much on food. Anyways, it's a devious trick.

You've inspired me to blog more about my own food adventures. Only they would go more like this
"The $3.25 half sandwich from Mac's Grab and Go paired a delightful combination of roast beef and blue cheese, all in a tomato tortilla. It was freshly prepared (the day before) and paired with limp potato chips."

Repeat x 5 Monday thru Friday. Not exactly the stuff of Pulitzer's (or the food blogger equivalent)

P.S. The burrito place in Berkeley was La Burrita..although I think burrito is actually a masculine noun.

2/18/2007 3:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow Jen, you have truly been blessed. I married and had 3 children for the sole purpose of secretly betrothing them to the famed Bollywood star, Naveen. I plan on raising them to serve his every need and then sending them off to India to be in his harem. If only I were young enough myself…


2/22/2007 7:11 PM  

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