Monday, December 21

Restaurant Review - Cardwell's at the Plaza Frontenac

We went to Cardwell's last saturday night with another couple for Dinner. I give you my + and my -.

+ Right on Lindergh and 40, very easy to get in and out.

+ Although it was a busy saturday night Crowd, we received a very warmth welcome from a dedicated hostess willing to help us.

The Menu:
+ Very easy to read, good wine selection.
- I couldn't get a theme. I spotted only one pasta dish and a little bit of everything from a French Dish to a Chinese Dish + a few American ones.

The Atmosphere:
+ Nice layout, I liked the private rooms. Sitting at the bar seems fantastic. Even, the main dining room gives you a nice feeling. Great place to see and be seen. Trust me, we ran into at least 5 parties we knew.

The Service:
+ Fast pace.
- I ordered a coffee that came with no spoon. Both our waiters were not very friendly. When I complained about one of our entrees - see below - I felt like I was annoying my waitress and she didn't seem to care that much about the situation.

The Food:
I was really disappointed with the Food.

The presentation lacked creativity. The white round plates are boring and bland. My fried calamari showed up on one of these white plates with a tartar sauce (white as well) The dish lacked color and appeal. The Calamari were chewy and the fried part was more gooey than crispy. Of course the portion was enormous but I ate barely half of my plate and none of my friends wanted to try that dish.

Then, 2 of us ordered the Grilled Shrimp Dish. One plate came with 3 superb size Shrimp, the other plate came with 3 medium to small Shrimp. The 2 plates next to each other looked odd. My friends were shocked. How can someone looking at the food in the kitchen could let these 2 plates be served on the same table? I complained to our waitress and see if we could get 1 or 2 more shrimp, she apologized vaguely but didn't seem to really care. We were done eating our entrees and almost ready to go when she showed up with another full Grilled Shrimp dish. She noticed we have been done for 30 minutes and wondered if we wanted that dish wrapped to take home. Give me a break, all she had to do was rushing back in the kitchen as soon as we complained and bring us a couple of shrimp on a plate.

My dish was the Lobster Ravioli. Well, here is a hint when you order Lobster Ravioli or Crab Cake. It has to taste like Lobster or Crab. What I mean is in my raviolis, I had a tiny piece of lobster and the rest was a heavy filling of some kind. I had some Crab Cakes in the past when all you taste is the Mayo. The lobster was an afterthought. I couldn't finish my dish, it was so heavy + it was soaked in heavy cream.

I know it is a very successful place and it is a great social meeting point. I am always concerned when Big Time Chefs lose track of what is going on in their own kitchen. Look at what happened in New York to Bobby Flay- lost of Stars at Mesa Grill - and Jeffrey Chodorow - Horrid reviews on the New York Times of his 2 new restaurants: zero star and 1 star - and the fall out of their restaurants after spending too much time promoting themselves and their brand and not enough time in their kitchens.

You can't cheat the customer anymore with what you put on the plate especially in a rough economy. People travel, they know the good from the bad. Don't hide behind huge portions to justify an below average dish. Yes I want to feel that I am getting some bang for my bucks but I still want to remember my dining experience.

Well, in that case, I would rather forget about it.

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