Opus One

>> Saturday, February 26, 2011

Friday, February 19th.
The Greek is still missing. Tonight we have the usual gang minus him.
Opus One is in a building that used to be an old taxi garage before it's opening in the 80's. It has received many accolades as being one of Detroit's best. We have tickets to Cirque de Soleil at the Joe tonight...If we only did enough research to know that Opus One provides shuttle services to events. Schedule this ahead of time, for future reference.

We start the night off with Elk Cove Pinot Noir. Elk Cove has been one of my favorites for years now and I was so pleased that Thad & Lulu had this waiting when I arrived. Our servers tonight are Casta & Brock.  Thad can't stop mentioning the fact that Opus One uses REAL silverware.  He is right, this is the first restaurant we have been to that uses real silver.  Impressive.
We skip apps, and have salads, because the salads on the menu sound amazing, and they were. Scarlet has the tomato salad, which was suprisingly flavorful for the middle of winter.

Lulu has the avocado quinoa salad. This was unique and delicious. I thought about trying to make one at home. Guess what, Lulu, our favorite Barefoot Contessa at Home cookbook has a recipe for this!  Score!

I have the spinach mango salad, and I am still daydreaming about it. The dressing was just a tad sweet and delicious. The bacon and shavings of parmesan contrasted the sweetness perfectly. I tried to duplicate this since, but I need the dressing recipe!
Thad has a caesar salad, and states it is just "ok". Master P skipped the salad.  Spinach Mango pictured below.

On to the Main Course:
Scarlet has the sea bass.   We agree it is not as buttery melt-in-your-mouth as Inyo, but it is decent.  It is served with basmati (meow) rice and potato crisps that taste just like ruffles:

Master P orders the king crab legs, and they are just fine.  What more can you say about crab legs served with lemon wedges and butter?
Thad has the pork Osso Buco, which is one of the house specialities.  He is disappointed overall in his meal.  He was not impressed with the pork, nor the firecracker apple sauce.  The menu also mentions chili oil, which he swears there was none.  The sweet potato fries are shavings and difficult to eat.  

I have the steak and chevre risotto cakes, which are listed under the petite entrees.  Served with a blackberry madeira demi glace and asparagus.  I was not thrilled with this dish.  The description sounds fabulous, but the result was just eh.  The glaze was jammy, but not in a good way, and the risotto was rather bland.  

Lulu had probably the best entree of the evening, the Napolean of smoked portobello mushroom.  Sorry to all the carnivores out there, of which I have been....I seem to be more and more preferring the vegetarian fare these days.  Strange, i'm not doing it on purpose!  This was yummy and Lulu enjoyed her entree much.

Desserts!  They have a huge display cart of fabulous desserts!  You must have dessert!  We order one of pretty much everything:
Vanilla cheesecake:  Yummy
Molten chocolate cake: Fabulous
Apple flan:  This is NOT flan, why are the calling it this?  It is more like apple turnover.  It was delicious.
Warm banana and white chocolate bread pudding:  My favorite!!
The special dessert of the day:  Peach cobbler.  Overly sweet, but decent.
And for the finale, we ordered 2 Opus One Hummers!

Chambord, Grand Marnier, Creme de Cocoa and french vanilla ice cream blended together in a dark chocolate cup.  Note the 3 straws each, for sharing your hummer.  In the interest of keeping the blog PG, I will not go into the details of the hummer jokes as Scarlet and I shared a hummer or Master P discussed how much suction it takes to drink the hummer through the straw.  Or how Thad tried to break off a piece of the cup and all the hummer prematurely oozed out onto the plate and made a mess.

Total bill:  $294 plus tip.  This does not include one bottle of Elk Cove at the bar before dinner.  The scores average out to about a 4.  Thad, who usually scores falsely high, gave Opus a low score...he really was disappointed tonight.  I liked the atmosphere, the service was impeccable.  The salads and desserts were awesome.  A couple of the entrees were not so fabulous, but we are extremely spoiled.    On the way out, the lovely hostess gave us free homemade Opus One chocolate chip cookies.  Funny, Master P and I both had one, yet I never had a chance to taste it....weird. 



>> Friday, February 11, 2011

Friday, Feb 4th. Again, no Greek....and no Master P. Mr. R joins us. Vicente has always been a favorite of mine, but we haven't been since starting this blog last June...so our expectations are high for our favorite place this night. It did not disappoint.  Unfortunately the lighting is dim here, so our pictures of the fabulous food did not turn out well enough for the blog.

Our server tonight is Robert.  We love him, he is attentive without being pushy or bothersome.  We of course have Sangria, which Vicente's does RIGHT.  Scarlet and I also move on to mojitos after a while.  We have the Mojito Grand Reserva- top shelf and will knock you on your ass, so Robert promises us.
For apps, we have tostones and the sweet plantains.  I dream of plantains.  Tostones are the less ripe plantains, smashed and deep-fried, sort of like chips - served with a delectable garlic sauce.  The sweet plantains are overly ripened, then sauteed until they get a nice brown crust.  Absolutely delicious.

We have salads.  The avocado salad had the most fresh avocados we believe we have ever tasted. I order the ensalada de pera.  It has pears soaked in Sambuca then deep-fried.  This salad was delicioso.  I recommend either of these salads.

We proceed to order half the menu:
Thad & Lulu split the Paella del Huerto, vegetarian paella.  All of their paella choices are Huge...enough to feed a family of 4 for days...
Tortilla Espanol, spanish style omelet, type of pancake...potato & onion.  Great.
Papas Rellenas, mashed potatoes stuffed with ground beef, rolled into a ball and deep-fried! Whats not to like?
Tamale Cubano, pork tamales - the masa was moister than traditional tamales, we thought.
Croquetas Preparados, chicken & ham croquettes...just ok.
The best Tapa of the night:  The Tapa Vegetariana.  Do not let these simple mushroom and veggies fool you.  This was delicious, the veggies had a wood-fire roasted taste that was incredible.
I order my favorite entree, the ropa vieja.  You can find this in most Cuban restaurants.  Thinly sliced (shredded actually) beef with spices, tomato & red wine sauce, peppers and green olives.  I love this dish, served with white rice, sweet plantains and black bean soup.  I give my soup to Lulu as she is the biggest black bean soup fan.  She proclaims Vicente has the best black bean soup ever.  I take most of my meal home and eat it for breakfast the next day, as I was already full of tapas.

Dessert:  As I mentioned in the Rojo review, the tres leche cake at Vicente is muy deliciouso.  We highly recommend it and it was as great as ever.  We also tried the chocolate mousse cake, which Scarlet & Lulu now say is even better than the tres leche!

Total bill:  $350 plus tip.  That includes lots of sangria and mojito.  The scores averaged at about a 5!  This is the FIRST ever dinner we have had that some of us scored it ABOVE a 5, even Lulu!

On Friday & Saturday nights here, the salsa lessons begin at 10pm.  After 15 minutes of instruction, the regulars start getting serious.  You will see lots of entertaining dancers show up before 10:30.  Enjoy the show!  When we got our fill of salsa, we head over to The Well and watch a whole different type of dancing.  What a fun night!


Courthouse Grille

>> Thursday, February 10, 2011

Saturday, January 22nd. Tonight we have a special guest, Ms. K from Idaho, who is Master P's sister. But we are missing The Greek. We wanted to go to the Ice Festival in Plymouth, which is becoming one of our many annual traditions. I really wanted to go to Comparis for dinner, which is one of my old favorites, but because of the busy ice fest, they were not taking reservations. We knew they would be packed with a long wait so Thad chose one of his old favorites, Ernesto's Italian Country Inn. Ernesto's is now called the Courthouse Grille (it is located next to the Plymouth courthouse.) http://www.courthousegrille.com/ Their website proclaims "you be the judge!". Ok, yes, we will. This place is gigantic. Its an old giant mansion with many rooms. It has 9 banquet rooms of varying sizes. I was hoping the website provided some history on the place, but nope. Luckily, Thad is an encyclopedia of information on EVERYTHING a la Cliff Claven. However, I failed to document his dronings....I think I sometimes tune him out unintentionally. Drinks: CHG has a variety of sangrias, so we tried them all. They come in little pitchers that serve probably 2 or 3. I actually did not care for any of them, as none of them tasted like real sangria to me. I think it would be more fair to call these "punch" ormaybe even "sangria punch". I believe, however, my companions enjoyed them more. We also have a couple of bottles of Layer Cake Shiraz and a bottle of Main Street 2008 Pinot Noir. Apps: Here is our official recommendation. Do not waste your money on appetizers here. Have the yummy rolls and salad only. All the appetizers were so bland, bland, bland. We had the spinach artichoke dip: it had frozen limp spinach and was absolutely flavorless. The shrimp Ernesto was also deemed bland by the seafood eaters at the table. The caprese salad, ok...but we should know better than to order fresh tomatoes in the dead of winter, right? Thad has the minestrone, and says bland! The salads are good, as are the rolls....so as I suggested, skip the apps. Oh, except for the caesar salad, Ms. K said is was not good at all. The entrees are totally different, I think they save all the seasoning for the entrees: Lulu has the Portobello ravioli, which has a really flavorful sun-dried tomato cream sauce. Both Thad and Ms. K have the piccata, one chicken, one veal. The sauce is very salty, too salty, over-powerful salty. They discovered where all the salt went from the apps, into the piccata sauce. Master P has the chicken alfredo, which was predictable. Scarlet has the chicken marsala with cabbage & red potatoes, whose sauce was rich with mushrooms and artichokes. She said the sauce was great, the rest just "eh". The side of cabbage was yummy, however. I have the chicken Ernesto - which the menu states has been the house specialty for 30 years. This is an interesting dish of chicken, sausage, onions, mushrooms and sweet cherry peppers in a piccanti sauce. It does not come with any sort of pasta or potato, fyi. The sauce was salty, as was the sausage. I enjoyed the flavorful fennel sausage. The cherry peppers were pretty much raw and still had stems, difficult to cut into.... Other than the sausage, I was disappointed with this dish.
Chicken Ernesto.Chicken Marsala

Desserts: The menu had an interesting way of describing cannoli. It just states " large cannoli". Period. So Scarlett has to ask, "just how large is the large cannoli"? Thad has to pipe in that Scarlett can try some of his large cannoli. Our server holds up her pen to describe the size of the large cannoli, and we are not impressed. Anyhoo...the cannoli is decent size and actually very good. The tiramisu is great. The chocolate paradise cake is dense and fudgy. The bill totals $280 plus tip. Still not too bad considering 2 or 3 bottles of wine and multiple pitchers of sangria. I average the scores and come up with 3.39. This is skewed way up because Thad gives it a 4.6....and states that is ONLY for nostalgic reasons, as Ernesto's was a great place in his past. I personally gave it a 2.5...it was definitely teetering on the edge of the pit of mediocrity. But, to be fair, I'll round it down to a 3. The atmosphere of the place was sort of cool. I do like the bar area with the lounge singer....it was cozy.