Saturday, August 27, 2011

Restaurant Week is up and the verdict is in!!

After much back and forth on where to go for Restaurant Week this summer, my friend and I decided on Gargoyle's On The Square.  Why this restaurant and not one of the many others participating in Restaurant Week? Well, it adhered to most or all of my criteria: firstly, it has been about three years since I have wanted to eat here (embarassing...I know!), secondly, there were quite a few of their regular menu items on their RW menu...always a good sign! Third, the RW price for three courses represented a good bargain compared to their usual prices, (which are pretty steap) and finally, it's in Davis of my all-time favorite squares:)
After a really long, hard day rehearsing at the Ballet, I was absolutely ravenous and in the mood for some major eating.  When we got to the restaurant, our hostess took our reservation and showed us to a nice table right by the far so good!  I had already decided what I was going to order about three days prior so I was good to go. Unfortunately, even though we were by the window, the restaurant was so dark that I had to resolve to using flash...yuck:(

For an appetizer, I ordered their 'signature' Hawaiian Tuna Poke, which came with thuck cubes of tuna mixed with hijiki, nori oil and red ginger.  I was really impressed with the size of this appetizer although I found it to be too heavy on the sauce...and sodium. The tuna however, was superb.

My friend got their Cast-iron Baked Vermont Cheddar complete with crispy pancetta and granny smith apples.  The lightly toasted bread was just the right complement although I thought the cheese could have been more lacked that crispy finish...this had me wondering if maybe they were on a RW time constraint? The restaurant was busy and things were arriving quite quickly...apart from the lighting, the alarmingly quick pace with which one dish was replaced with another was the second thing that irked me.

For main courses, I got their Crispy Natural Duck Confit, with herb-roasted potatoes, bacon-onion jam and watercress. This dish was a perfectly constructed meal, a bit too heavy for summer, but still very tasty. My friend opted for the vegetarian option, Chickpea Fritters with roasted eggplant and a summer vegetable salad. I did not get a good photo of this dish however it was exceptionally bland...particularly next to the duck.  The temperature of the dish was also way off...again, I have my reservations as to how well orchestrated these RW dining experiences get the feel that you are being rushed and not genuinely taken care of...

Moving onto dessert we also moved away from their regular dessert menu which is a real pity as some of their usual desserts sound truly amazing. I opted for the double chocolate cake with raspberry coulis and pretzel brittle.  Although not on their regular menu and fairly standard, it was rich and decadent, just the way I like my chocolate:) I would have preferred a larger piece though:(

The Key Lime Tart, also not on their usual dessert menu surprised me as well. The Key Lime filling, albeit a little skimpy was not too strong and the extra whipped cream I asked for was much welcome.  I was not a huge fan of the mint syrup they had along the just reminded my friend and I of mouthwash...
All in all, most of the food was good although I would have preferred to see more of the regular desserts on the RW special. 
I do however maintain my reservations regarding the way many restaurants orchestrate their RW.  I genuinely feel as though you are rushed through your meal, with servers practically grabbing your plates out from under your nose as you are still enjoying your last bite.  If RW is about getting the feel for a place and potentially coming back, it should be a full package deal.  After this experience, I wondered if we may have had a more relaxing time at the bar with their burger...


  1. Next restaurant week, try LaMorra! GREAT RW menu, no rush and no snippy service.

  2. Down on my list! Maybe the fourth try will be the charm?