Last night Bill and I went to Five Lakes Grill with Tammy, B, Kristen, Michael and Miriam, and Eric. It's in Midland, and we appreciated that Michael drove most of us there in the minivan. Overall, the evening was enjoyable, but the food at the restaurant seemed a bit uneven.
The appetisers were one of the highlights of the evening. The house smoked salmon was as good as Michael and Miriam told us it was - the Creme Freche and capers on top combined in an effect that was truly lovely. Bill and I split a meat sampler plate with Eric once we discovered there were three slices of almost everything on it. There was a farmer's sausage with a black cherry and horseradish sauce, kielbasa with a yellow horsradish mustard, and summer sausage with a beet and horseradish sauce. They also had a pork toureen with a ginger marmalade, but I was unimpressed with both the toureen and the marmalade. Generally, the sausages were a bit mediocre, but they made a nice base for tasting the sauces, which were outstanding. The german-style potato salad which was served with it was also nicely done.
The house salad was a disappointment. The dressing was uninspired, and I regretted not ordering it with blue cheese on top as the waitress recommended. lucky for me, both B and Bill donated blue cheese to the cause. Even with that added, it was an uninteresting course. Worth eating, but I didn't learn anything new.
For the entrees, Kristin had the vegetarian dish of the day, which looked like an omelette, Eric had the Tuna with wasabi mashed potatoes, cooked rare (seared on the sides, I would guess), Tammy had the cod, B had the roasted indiana duck with lentils, Bill had the beef brisket with carmelized onions and mashed potatoes, I think Michael had the beef tenderloin, Miriam also had the cod, and I had one of the specials, a gemeli pasta with beef tenderloin tips, spinach, roasted green and red peppers thinly sliced, with Gorgonzola sprinkled on top.
For the price, probably we should have sent two dishes back - Kristin's vegetarian dish, which unexpectedly had mushrooms in it, to which she is allergic, and B's roasted duck, which was tasty but overdone. The cod was a touch spicy and had a very nice flavor and texture, I thought. The beef brisket was dry, but I suspect that is the nature of the dish. There was plenty of juice on the plate to dip it in. Eric didn't seem interested in sharing the tuna, so I'm guess it was as good as he said it was. :) I was really glad I had requested my dish with the meat medium rare, as it was just juicy enough to be really tasty. I like that it's a dish that I can cook at home but wouldn't have thought of on my own. Omaha Steaks sent us some tenderloin beef tips recently and I had no idea what to do with them at the time. I think it could have used more spinach and the sauce was lacking in texture, but as long as I got at least two of the ingredients in each bite, it was very enjoyable.
There was, as might be expected, a bit of kibitsing about the wine before ordering -one bottle of white, one bottle of red. Perhaps I should have paid more attention to the ordering of the white; whatever we got wasn't very good in my opinion. Miriam commented when tasting it that it was not as complex as she'd hoped, but it was still very nice. I thought the acidity of it overwhelmed the taste, and didn't finish mine. I just tasted the red at the end of the meal. B asked me what I thought and all I thought to say was that my palate isn't very developed for reds but it seemed to have a lot of tanin in it - it tasted young perhaps? It was a 1999, but B says that particular wine doesn't really age. Thinking back, it seemed a little woody to me. Beyond the tang of it there was a surprisingly light taste, which was interesting.
We didn't get very into the desert course as we were all pretty full. Tammy and B and Bill and I split a raspberry bavarian with chocolate sauce. The chocolate sauce came in little dots around the plate and oddly enough it was garnished on top by a strawberry (thinly sliced) -the strawberry was tasty but I was hoping for fresh raspberries. Altogether it didn't compare with the desert we had at The Chop house a few weeks ago, but it was a nice fruity end to the meal.
I was surprised to consider that despite Miriam and Michael's comment that the chef was good at game and meats, I thought all of the best dishes were fish (and sauces). I was sorry I didn't feel like we got to know mirriam and Michael very well. They seemed very tense when we met at Kristin's, and though they did seem to unwind a bit over the course of the evening, I don't feel much closer to knowing what they're about.
It was good to see Kristin again, and maybe this time I'll remember her name for longer. it would be fun to get her and mary in a conversation, since they're both in Public Health.
Anyway, it was a nice time, and I woke up this morning thinking about how I might write about it, so there you have it.