Wednesday, August 16, 2006

I Miss the City ...

I am in South Bend, Indiana for a week. Everyone is very friendly, every house is huge, and gas is $2/gallon. The entire town seems to revolve around the University of Notre Dame, which is quite an impressive and beautiful campus.

The food, however, is another story.

Everything seems to be deep fried. Vegetables, when they can be found and are not deep fried, are cooked until all of the color is gone. Al Dente could only be recognized as a man's name. It is certainly not a cooking term that any restaurant in "downtown" (appears to be a three-block radius) would utilize.

I had dinner last night at The Vine. I ordered steak, medium rare, which came with mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus. Although well-seasoned, the mashed potatoes were cold and lumpy. Interestingly, the grilled asparagus were plated underneath the mashed potatoes, effectively steaming them. If they were not overcooked before they were plated, they certainly were by the time they arrived at the table after sitting under the mound of mashed potatoes. The steak, a 7 oz. piece of filet mignon, was grey on the outside, and the criss-cross grill marks on top looked like they had been painted on (and actually tasted that way as well). If I had the nerve to throw it on the floor, I am almost certain it would have bounced. I have to admit that the inside was technically pink, but still had a grey tinge that made the steak look like old tuna. The stringy and chewy texture of the meat further reinforced this comparison.

On the upside, service was friendly and attentive, despite the fact that the restaurant was short-staffed as a result of one of the servers having called in sick right before the dinner shift. I also quite enjoyed the extensive wines by the glass on their wine list, the most expensive of which was a mere $8.50! (most were $6). I enjoyed an apricoty 2004 Perrin Cote du Rhone Blanc, followed by a robust and earthy 2003 Broquel Cabernet Sauvignon from Mendoza.

On another night, I declined to feast on the pizza ordered by my colleagues, which scared me off with its thick, squishy crust and stringy ropes of cheese, apparent from just watching the slices being pulled apart. Instead, I decide that a liquid dinner would be the lesser of two evils and opted to make do with a Coors Light.

I would have killed to come across a Cheesecake Factory or California Pizza Kitchen. At least the hotel has a Starbucks in the lobby.

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