Thursday, May 28, 2009

Enn (24 of 50)

Cuisine: Japanese/Sushi
Price: Pretty expensive
Score: 24
Will I eat there again? NO

I recently heard that a new sushi restaurant had opened in Lincoln, RI. Given the social demographics of Lincoln, and its relative closeness to Providence, I have always been rather surprised that there are not more places to eat. A couple spots exist around the Lincoln Mall, but in general the fecundity of places to dine in Providence stands in stark contrast to Lincoln's culinary options.

I was therefore delighted to learn about the opening of Enn Japanese and Sushi Bar, and had heard third-hand that it was pretty good. Unfortunately, it was not.

The interior design was the first warning sign. Enn is located in what looks like a generic multi-use office building, with a bewildering number of doors on the outside (although only one of them is actually open). The interior was perfectly clean, but completely non-interesting. Everything was rectangular, from the walls, to the art, to the ceiling tiles- it looked like if you walked down the hallway to the restroom you might come out into your dentists lobby. The interior was so wide open that you almost felt exposed, and could have benefited tremendously from some well placed dividers or walls.

Things went from bad to worse with the food. We started off with a sweet potato tempura maki roll- probably the best part of the meal. Nothing great, and it tasted pretty much like your average $3.50 vegetarian sushi roll- except it cost $4.50.

For our entrees we choose the stir fried udon with veggies($9) and the teriyaki pork ($15). The teriyaki pork was purported to be "smothered in Our Special Sauce"- which seemed to be a rendition of high fructose corn syrup, soy sauce, and who knows what else. The pork would have been ok on its own, but the sauce dragged it down. The udon noodles may have set the bar for the least enjoyable dish we have tasted since we started The Fishy Foodie. Remember those asian stir fry frozen kits you used to buy at the supermarket for $3? A bunch of veggies, a couple noodles, and a packet of frozen generic sauce that you heated in a skillet and almost invariably ended up rather soggy and steamed- not stir fried? That is what we got, except it cost three times as much. Not good.

The highlight of the evening was the restroom- very clean, nice hands-free plumbing, the works. Regrettably, I found myself here almost immediately post-dinner. Feel free to make any connections that you want.

Enn received the lowest score that we have given out thus far. High prices, dull food, and bland decor do not a great meal make.

Enn Sushi & Japanese Cusine on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 11, 2009

Chez Pascal (45 of 50)

Restaurant: Chez Pascal
Cuisine: French inspired seasonal
Price: Expensive and worth it
Score: 45
Will I eat there again? Definitely

There are a limited number of top-tier restaurants in Providence, or Rhode Island in general. There are plenty of places were you can spend lots of money, and even more spots that should be amazing- considering the flocks of diners that frequent them. Urbanspoon's ranking system does a decent job, considering how vulnerable to abuse it is. One of the main motivations for creating The Fishy Foodie is to create a list of the top eateries in the state that was fairly objective and that most people could at least appreciate, if not necessarily agree with. Chez Pascal is definitely on that short list, landing a impressive second behind Al Forno, and one point ahead of La Laiterie.

Attention to detail is what brings the dining experience to life at Chez Pascal. Seating is artfully arranged in a space that is fairly small, but the careful use of walls and partial dividers gives the feeling of both space and privacy. With the exception of our waitress, the staff was excellently trained, very polite, and professional. Water glasses were well attended, and the entire staff was attentive to us (which was a good thing, given our waitresses fairly complete disinterest in us). The service of the waitress was our lone criticism of the evening, costing the restaurant 2 points.

The star of the night was the food. We both dined from the bistro menu (3 courses for $30- you pick 1 of 3 apps, 1 of 3 entrees, and 1 of 2 desserts) which is available from Tuesday- Thursday nights. Given that many of the entrees run $25-$30, this really is a excellent opportunity to taste a wide variety of expertly crafted dishes for a reasonable price. We started off with the mixed greens with caramelized pecans, onions and apple, and the roasted mussels. The salad was good- fresh, light and well balanced. The mussels were incredibly tender and juicy. Melt-in-your mouth would be an appropriate descriptor- and while the seasoning on them was a bit mild for my tastes, the flavors combined to a crescendo greater than the sum of the parts.

For our entrees we chose roasted wahoo (one of my favorite and rarely served fish) with beluga beans and potatoes and brined pork tenderloin over endive, roasted turnips and potatoes, and topped with an apple mash. Both dishes were outstanding. The power of the food at Chez Pascal lies in the careful combination of ingredients. You can't just have great ingredients (although that is vital!), you need to be able to own and master them, so you can achieve unique flavor combinations that come alive in your mouth. This is a common theme that all the best restaurants I have eaten at share, and Chez Pascal was no exception.

Before dessert we partook of one of the house specialty cocktails (the Faux Pas) consisting of pear and ginger sorbet, pear liquor and pineapple juice. Served in a martini glass, it was the perfect temperature (almost icy) and married the sweetness of bosc pear and kick of ginger quite satisfactorily.

We finished off our meal with their two bistro dessert offerings: a trio of profiteroles with home-made ice cream and chocolate sauce, and an upside-down baby cake with pecans and bananas. Delicious, although to be honest, at this point in the meal we were in such culinary bliss that we might have no longer been the most attentive and critical judges.

Chez Pascal is a wonderful restaurant. A keen attention to detail results in ambiance, food, drinks, and service that are all excellent. Well done.

Chez Pascal on Urbanspoon