Salsa Verde

I’ve always liked a variety of salsas, from the traditional Mexican salsa made with ripe, red tomatoes, to salsa guajillo and salsa verde. Most salsas serve a special purpose to be an important part of a dish, but they can also be served as a dip with chips. I’ve made salsa verde many times, but I’ve found it to be slightly acidic. So, one day I added an avocado. It really seems to make it more well-rounded by balancing the acidity of the tomatillos. Read more

A comedy of errors, restaurant style

Whenever my husband and I are in Uptown, we often pass Amore Victoria and wonder if we should try it. We usually resolve that the food wouldn’t be very good and always end up at our favorite Barbette across the street. But this time, we were thrilled to see that Amore Victoria had a brand new rooftop patio! How wonderful! So, we crossed the street and entered on the street level.

Amore rooftop from frontNoone was there to greet us, except when we were able to flag down a server who gestured toward the back of the building. We made our way past the tables on the sidewalk, saw the parking lot and spotted an unpainted wooded staircase. Could this be the entrance to the rooftop patio? We climbed the staircase, took in the view, and tried to find a “greeter”, or someone in uniform. Two servers, who looked like deer in the headlights, hurriedly passed us without even making eye contact or saying they’d be right with us. Fortunately, the busser was very friendly and motioned us to a table with a big tray on it. We walked toward the table and waited until someone took the tray before we could sit down. The busser promptly brought two red plastic glasses with water and a lemon wedge. (Why plastic glasses when all the others are glass? How tacky. Are we at Chucky Cheese?) We waited for what must have been 15 minutes before our server greeted us, saying he’d be right back for a drink order. We watched, for the next 10 minutes, as other tables in this very large section looked around for their server. We casually looked at the menu, knowing we’d have plenty of time to decide before the server had time to take our drink order. At least, we thought, the food COULD be good and make up for all of this waiting. The menu had way too many items. I thought of the wonderfully simple quality menus that Gordon Ramsey usually put together after resolving a kitchen nightmare. We chose the same red wine to make it easy, bruschetta with heirloom tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella, foccacia with mixed olives, potato gnocci with gorgonzola sauce for me and seafood pasta for my husband.

In the midst of all this running around, I noticed one of the owners at the top of the stairs casually cleaning the menus, completely oblivious to the needs of the servers. I couldn’t believe it! Doesn’t he realize that all the servers are totally “in the weeds”?!

After watching our server race back and forth, and up and down the staircase, he finally approached our table when he was deterred by two ladies to our left who were wondering where one of their entrees ended up. He briskly moved down the staircase one more time, returning with her entree. He took a deep breath, pulled out his tablet and asked us if we were ready to order a glass of wine. We gave him our entire order. We continued to watch the chaotic scene and just laughed about it. What more could go wrong here? The wine came promply after we ordered and 15 minutes later the “heirloom” tomato bruschetta arrived. The bread was overly toasted and the tomatoes were small and nothing special. The foccacia was marvelous. Much later, as we were watching the sun go down over Lake Calhoun, our steaming entrees arrived. My gnocci was fabulous…soft potato pillows in a creamy gorgonzola sauce. My husband’s seafood pasta was also great, including the home made pasta. We felt bad for the server because he really was doing the best he could under the circumstances.

Even though most of our food was very good, we will not return to this comedy of errors. I can’t believe Amore Victoria is still in business. It’s too bad. They need a complete overhaul of their menu and they need to hire more servers! Gordon Ramsey, are you out there? This place needs a lot of shaking up!

Assisted Cuisine: Mongolian style

khanmongolian_4I went to an amusing place for lunch today. As we walked into Khan’s Mongolian Barbecue, I was drawn by the four chefs, flipping piles of noodles atop steaming, giant hot plates. We were seated, ordered a round of hot tea, and immediately headed for the pre-stir-fry buffet. I started with the large, plastic bowl, moved past the red meats and pork and began creating my mountain of egg noodles. The raw, baby shrimp came next, followed by seasoned tofu, a mélange of raw vegetables, and a sprig of cilantro. The final part consisted of ladeling ginger water, chili sauce, and sesame oil. I was now ready to present my bowl to the chefs at the giant hot plates. I was taken aback by the sound of the gong and honorable cheers from the chefs as one man contributed to the tip jar. “Peanuts?” the chef chimed in. I nodded affirmatively. A few short minutes went by and the steaming plate was in my hands. We were rewarded at the table with a simple appetizer and hot tea. As we sat down, the lines swelled at the front door. I wondered if they, too, anticipated the next steps as they passed the steaming hotplates.