Sunday, February 12, 2012

Valentines Day 2012

So it's time for a little break from the 30 day challenge to reveal our Valentines Day destination.

For anyone new:  My husband and I have a tradition for Valentine's Day.  Instead of getting gifts or cards for each other, every February 14th we find a new restaurant to dine in.  Sometimes we travel, other times we stay closer to home.  The only rule is that neither of us has eaten there before.  In leaner times we modified this rule to include staying at home and trying a new recipe.  We generally go the weekend before or after actual V-day because we don't like crowds and waiting.

Our 2012 destination: Appanoose Rapids Brewery Company in Ottumwa, IA.

I have had my eye on this place for awhile.  I noticed it one time when traveling downtown and looked up on the internet for more information.  The menu had many French and pricey selections, so I decided it would be best to save it for V-day.  Captain called and was told no reservations were possible, so we dolled up and ventured out last night for this years new experience.

My review of this place is mixed.  We unwittingly stepped into the back door (the one facing main street) and found ourselves in the bar area.  Captain was immediately drawn to the long list of brew varieties on the wall.  It took some time for anyone to notice us and give us a table.  When we finally sat down, we immediately saw that the table was wobbly, and I don't mean there was a little give, I mean I would worry setting drinks on it because they would spill all over when someone leaned forward.

After a short deliberation, we flagged down someone who moved us two tables over.  We saw them immediately grab that table and cart it away.  Kudos to them for dealing with the problem rather than repeatedly sitting people there hoping they'll live with it. 

The next thing we noticed was how very overdressed we were.  I had judged from the prices on the menu that this was a "fancy" place.  I had obviously been wrong.  Most patrons donned sweatshirts and jeans.  Next, the hassled waitress came to take our drink orders.  Captain was told that they didn't actually have the brews on the list he had poured over earlier, so he had to settle for a brown ale which was decent, but a little cloudy. 

We started with an appetizer of wild mushroom struedel in a marsala sauce.  The sauce was scant, but it was good.  For main dishes, I chose Boursin Stuffed Chicken (chicken breast stuffed with herbed cheese and spinach) and Captain chose Steak DeBurgo (filet mignon with a garlic, basil, and white wine sauce).  Again, the review of the food is mixed.  My chicken was decent, but not amazing, not worth the $17 price tag in my opinion.  The potatoes dauphinoise was a lovely side, however, and I enjoyed the non-iceburg salad very much.  Captain was thrilled with his selection, which turns out to be an Iowa creation, not a French one.  He could literally cut his thick steak with his fork, I sampled a piece of the dish he called, "two beef medallions of heaven" and had to agree.  The $23 price tag still seems a bit steep, but he was much more satisfied than I with the overall experience.

I keep mentioning the prices because around here, these are steep to say the least.  Even after having an appetizer, the portions were not big enough to provide leftovers, something I'm used to when paying higher prices.  The bread "basket" included two pieces of bread and two pads of butter, no more, no less.  Everything felt stingy, and the atmosphere was crowded and loud.  Conversation with my near deaf hubby was basically impossible.  So while this restaurant lacks in atmosphere and price, it definitely has some tasty options if you're willing to pay for it.

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