Sunday, March 23, 2014

1252 Tapas does a 180?

I spent a few hours at 1252 Tapas with several other folks at their open house to welcome their new chef, Wes Tyler. We were served a multiple-course sampler as we enjoyed complimentary beverages. I was attending this event alone, so I was happy to see A couple of foodie friends walk in the door! Great company is just as important as good food! 

The first course was a gazpacho. It was okay to me. Cool and refreshing, but tastes like a freshly made salsa without the spice.

Next up were the Little Bunny Fufu Empanadas (officially listed on the menu as Rabbit Empanadas). These were one of the standouts of the meal. The herbed rabbit and tetilla cheese went so well with the aioli. So tasty and I would have never known I was eating the Easter Bunny. Definitely something I'd order again. 

It was hard to top what came out next. Most of you know this is my year to expand my palate, so this was my first time to have mussels and clams. The butter, Pernod, and garlic sauce was nothing short of outstanding. We absolutely couldn't get enough of it and used more than our fair share of bread to soak up the delectable sauce. Richard is not a fan of seafood, and he loved this dish as well. I'd love to figure out how to replicate the sauce in my own kitchen. 

Next up we were served goat cheese caprese with goat cheese, honey, raisins and tomatoes. In the spirit of trying everything, I gave this a shot, but I should have known better. I cannot tolerate goat cheese. Although this was not as repulsive as normal (yes, I hate it that much), the aftertaste lingered on my palate even after washing it down with some more bread and Pernod sauce. Even though I didn't like it, someone who likes goat cheese would think this is good. The honey complimented the cheese well. If you like goat cheese, I'd give this app a whirl. It's certainly a different twist on the caprese I know, but that's okay. 

We were quickly served out first main course, a filet stuffed with Brie and wrapped in bacon with a honey cava sauce. The steak was good, a bit over done, but had a nice flavor. The potatoes served with the steak had at savory sauce on them which was very good. 

The paella was the letdown of the meal. I don't eat much rice, but it had a nice flavor; however, all of the proteins were overcooked. I may try it again on a regular visit and see how it is. 

Finally, we were served some homemade chocolate chip strawberry ice cream for dessert. It was a great way to end a wonderful dining experience with some definite highlights. 

The empanadas and clams were the standouts. If you haven't been to 1252 at Market Street in a while, I encourage you to give them another chance. A new chef can breathe new life into a place. This was my first time there, and I'd like to go back when I'm with friends and in the mood for drinks and small bites. 

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Black Sheep Bistro

We had a meeting with our accountant today, so I decided it was imperative to reward ourselves with a nice meal. Black Sheep Bistro has been on my list for several months now. Since we were in the area, it made for a perfect lunch stop. I had heard nothing but good things about this little cafe located in Old Town Spring on Main Street, so I had high expectations which can always be a little dangerous.

The menu was relatively limited, but I don't consider this a detractor at all. All to often restaurants with extensive menus (BJ's, Olive Garden, etc.) turn out a mediocre product. Since the menu was limited, it didn't take long for us to decide on the crawfish mac and cheese as an appetizer.  The waiter delivered some bread to our table while we waited on our app. The butter for the bread was tasty, but a little heavy on the garlic. However, it didn't stop me from eating it on a slice of the warm bread.

Due to a slight hiccup in the kitchen, our mac and cheese ended up arriving at the same time as our food. This dish was delectable, and I didn't want to share it. It was very creamy because of the marscapone cheese but also had a little spicy heat. It was extremely rich, so I am indeed glad we all split it considering the richness of my entree and dessert.

For my main entree, I chose the lobster roll which had sriracha mayo, avocado, and of course, lobster. It was served with greens tossed in a light vinaigrette. I enjoyed the spiciness of the sriracha, but it did not overpower the sweetness of the lobster. With the cubed avocado, the texture was a bit creamy, but the flavor was very good.

My dining companions ordered the beef short rib sandwich and the Black Sheep burger. No matter how hard I try, I unfortunately don't like lamb. However, I decided to risk my taste buds and had a bite of the Black Sheep Burger. I'm glad I took the risk. The tomato bacon jam and the blue cheese dominated the burger, so it helped hide the aftertaste of the lamb. Overall, it was very good as well.

For dessert, we ordered coffee and creme brulee. It took a long time to receive our coffee, and it was extremely disappointing. I'm unsure of their brewing method, but it tasted like hot cardboard. At a place this nice, I was expecting something better than restaurant grade coffee and only refined sugar and Sweet and Low as sweetener choices. It's possible they may have other options that you have to ask for, but by that time, our waiter was so busy, it was not realistic to ask. Just skip the coffee when you're there.

The creme brulee, on the other hand, should not be skipped. It was some of the best I've had. It was lighter than some creme brulees I've had in the past and it was not overly sweet. I could also taste the fresh vanilla in the custard. A winner.

Overall, Black Sheep Bistro is a place you should visit if you are in the Old Town Spring area. The food they produce out of a fairly conventional looking kitchen is astounding. Aside from the service decline at the end of our meal, we all really enjoyed ourselves. And it wasn't as if the service were bad, but if I'm going to spend over $100 for lunch for 4 people which consisted of one appetizer, four sandwiches, one dessert and drinks, I expect a higher level of service than what we received in the second half of our visit.

For the most part, Black Sheep met and possibly exceeded my expectations for quality of food. I look forward to going back for dinner very soon.

For hours and updated menu, visit Reservations can be made through Open Table or calling the restaurant directly (832-616-3035).