Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Cellar 3/29/08.

The Cellar is a Mediterranean restaurant in downtown Blacksburg, VA. The restaurant has 2 floors, an upstairs area and a lower basement area (for which the bar is named). Both floors have a bar, but the upstairs is geared more towards a classier restaurant type. The downstairs has more of a feel of a tavern. They usually close down the upper floor of the bar around 11 or 12 and funnel the remaining people to the cellar for drinks.

I've been visiting this restaurant every once in a while for the past 2 years . Everything I've gotten there has been very good. Their bartenders are usually awesome. Although on my first few visits to the cellar, the crowd was not what i would typically associate with... for example, the crowd seemed a little too coffee shop, intellectual, reading a Henry Thoreau novel type people. I later found out (via Jessy) that the Cellar was the regular meeting place for the French table. Over the course of visiting the place more over the years, i have grown to love it.

Saturday's Visit.
Jessy and I got together with one of her Greece buddies and her boyfriend for a dinner and a dance on saturday. We decided to go back to the Cellar (like we did the previous year). About an hour after we all ordered our meals, we called the service over and asked about where our food was. She went back and investigated, and apparently our order got lost by the cooks. After they told us, every one of the bartenders/waitresses took great care of us to make up for the mistake, and our bill also reflected how sorry they were about the mistake. Since we had drinks the whole time, all 4 of us didn't really mind all that much, and everyone ended up happy when our food came out shortly thereafter.

I ordered Linguine Alfredo with Shrimp. When they set my plate in front of me, i was astounded at how much food was in front of me. Just a big honkin plate of alfredo. On top of that was 10 grilled shrimp (you could also get grilled chicken or filet mignon). On the side i also got 2 pieces of delicious garlic bread. And after 2 pitchers of beer shared with Andrew, i ate a little less than a quarter of my plate, and a piece of garlic bread before i was completely full. Needless to say, i had plenty of leftovers for tonight.

As for taste, it was fantastic. The house made alfredo was fairly thick but perfect for the type of meal they were serving. The shrimp was also delicious. It wasn't rubbery or overcooked, and it went perfectly with the alfredo. The topper to the whole plate was that they put a thin layer of parmesan cheese over the top of the whole plate, and that just topped off the whole meal.

Overall: (9/10) With the exception of the long wait, everything was pretty damn good. And with the amount of food that they gave me, i haven't finished it after 2 sittings. Jessy's going to finish it tomorrow. It was really a great combination of the service and the food working together to give a positive dining experience.

What I plan on getting next time: The Pita Pizza with pepperoni, sausage and bacon (it's what andrew ordered and it looked fantastic).

Jessy Says ( i should order): Roasted Chicken Ravioli.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Olive Garden 3/22/08.

Last night I went to the new Olive Garden in Christiansburg, VA.

It was my first visit to the newly built restaurant, and once we went inside, I realized just how big it really is. Every table was full, and the place was hoppin. Even though it was packed, the wait was only about 15-20 minutes, which i thought was excellent.

Once we had been seated, a very nice waitress greeted us and offered us a complementary sample of some sort of wine. I of course said hell yes, and for being so free, it was pretty damn good (6.5/10). I ended up getting a glass of Riesling from Chateau Ste. Michelle. I don't know where the hell that is, but it must be from some place good, cause it was fantastic (9/10)

For dinner, i ordered what i normally order, soup and salad. My favorite from Olive Garden. I also noticed that they have dipping sauces for their awesome breadsticks. You can choose alfredo or marinara warmed up. I had the marinara.

After trying the marinara with the breadsticks, it was apparent to me that my idea of marinara is much different from what it actually means. I guess my ideal marinara sauce is more like pizza sauce, because true marinara just isn't my favorite. Needless to say, i'm going to try the alfredo next time.

As for the rest of the meal, the salad was fantastic as usual (9/10), and the Zuppa Toscana soup i had was also pretty damn good (9/10). I also had a taste of my date's Garlic Chicken with broccoli or something... that was also a favorable flavor.

But, out of the whole experience, the best part of the meal was our very nice waitress. She was kind, funny, and very helpful with anything we needed. It is always nice to have a nice meal in a restaurant, but what makes for an above par performance is certainly the service. We felt so taken care of, that i ended up tipping more than i usually do, and i ended up asking for the manager to compliment her on how awesome she was.

I know when I was working with customers at my old job, the best part of the job was being thanked by my manager for being so helpful with customers. So if i can give that to anyone that's good with me, i will usually do so. Happy employees = happy customers.

Overall: (10/10) Everything was to my liking... the hostess, atmosphere, wait staff, food, wine, and company. If every meal was this satisfactory, i wouldn't need to start this blog.

Disclaimer: I feel like it's important to start off this blog with a positive experience because i'm sure there will be many many negative ones (just because i'm a stickler for things like service, and quality of my meal). So stay tuned, and if you have any suggestions as to where i should eat, please leave them in the comments.