Posted by: Sean Carter | May 31, 2014

Welcome to Eating Through Roseville!

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I began a mission in August of 2011 to eat everywhere* in Roseville. I completed this mission, in a way, in late April of 2014 when I visited the last open business on my list. I’ve now visited over 200 restaurants, cafes, diners, delis, bistros, etc.

I’m no food critic. My writing skills are mediocre at best and I really didn’t know that much about food when I began. I still don’t know very much but I’ve definitely learned a lot as I encountered dishes, ingredients and even entire cuisines that I previously never tried before.

Originally my intent was simply to snap some quick photos of the food and post them to my personal Facebook page. It got a little bigger than that. I now have over 200 pages of write-ups and nearly 2500 photos documenting them. The above mosaic is built from these (click it for a bigger version).

Am I done? Not really. New places are always on the horizon and I intend to visit those too. Below there is a list of upcoming businesses that I am waiting on. If you know of something that I’ve missed, new or otherwise, please leave me a comment on the Submit a New Restaurant page.

Looking for a specific restaurant? Try the Completed Restaurants pages.

I’d like to thank all the people that have read and followed this blog over the past few years. Your comments, suggestions and criticisms helped direct me and your encouragement helped me find the motivation to keep going (on more than a few occasions). I am glad that you’ve found this to be informative/useful/entertaining. :)


So what’s next?

  • Ancho Mexican Grill
    • Where: Douglas & Sierra Gardens (TJ Maxx center)
    • What: Mexican
    • When: NOW OPEN
  • Chando’s Tacos
    • Where: Pleasant Grove & Highland Pointe
    • What: Tacos / Mexican
    • When: Unknown. Original target was July
  • Porter’s House of Drafts
    • Where: Foothills near Pleasant Grove
    • What: Taproom?
    • When: Unknown
  • Cibo7 Ristorante & Wine Bar
    • Where: Eureka & Rocky Ridge next to Blue Nami
    • What: Ristorante & Wine Bar
    • When: Unknown
  • Blaze Pizza
    • Where: Pleasant Grove & Fairway (also one in the Galleria)
    • What: Pizza
    • When: Unknown
    • (This is a boarder-line big chain but I love the fast pizza concept so I’m going to check it out anyway to compare it to Trademark and Blast 825º)
Posted by: Sean Carter | November 20, 2014

#214: Crawfish Factory Seafood Restaurant

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Tonight I was joined by my mom and grandmother for dinner at Crawfish Factory, Roseville’s newest seafood restaurant.  They opened just a few weeks ago in an old La Bou spot at Baseline and Foothills.  We arrived at 5:30PM and headed in.  The place is pretty big and wide open.  There is a lot of seating without it feeling cramped.  The high ceiling probably helps with that.  Of course, like many casual/family seafood restaurants, the decorations consist of fishing related items like nets and crab pots.  I was immediately reminded of a recent Family Guy cutaway where Peter is welcoming you into his seafood restaurant and says “We got boat parts on the wall so you know the crab comes from the ocean!”

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They were not very busy yet, only one table and a handful of seats at the bar/counter were occupied.  We were greeted immediately and sat at a table towards the middle, well away from the other customers (a welcome move that I rarely think much about, but when you are sat next to the only other people in a dining room it’s kinda weird, and it’s happened to me a couple times just recently).  Our server, Haylee, greeted us and gave us a very detailed rundown of the entire menu, how to order and what comes with what. It was one of the most complete and informative intros I’ve had in a long time.  She ran through the appetizers, some basic entrees, specialty entrees and what each one included (rice or bread in some cases), seafood by the pound and the extras you can add to that, the combos and finally drinks.  It was overwhelming to say the least and we definitely needed time to process it all.  We ordered up our drinks, a couple glasses of wine for the ladies and I had a Heineken.  In addition to wine and beer they also offer sake.

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We mulled the menu for quite a while, well mostly me.  My mom had quickly picked out the Garlic Noodles with Prawns [$14] and my grandma the Dungeness Crab by the pound which was on special [$11.99/lb.] (more on this in a minute) and a side of sweet potato fries.  I thought I might have the fish and chips but then my grandma gave me a bunch of crap because it was boring for a place like this.  I couldn’t really argue with that and started looking over the combos.  Eventually while they were placing their orders I made a last second decision and went with the Chef’s Mix (Combination of Snow Crab, Clams, Mussels, Shrimp, Crawfish w/ 2 corns & 2 potatoes)[$36.99].  It seemed to have a good mix of things that I wanted to check out.  Both the seafood by the pound and my combo come with a flavoring of our choice (Factory Signature, Fusion Cajun, Lemmon Pepper, Garlic Butter and Cajun Louisiana Style) and a choice of mild, medium or hot levels of spice.  We both went with garlic butter.  I do not recall her asking about the spice level, but based on the receipt we were given mild.  We also ordered the Tempura Shrimp with Mixed Vegetables [$12] to start.

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Haylee went to go enter the order into the computer.  A few minutes later the manager stopped by to let us know that the Dungeness Crab special had a little catch which he wasn’t sure was explained thoroughly.  Normally $19/lb (if I recall him correctly) it was on special for $11.99/lb for the start of the crab season.  The catch is that as a whole crab, most weigh in closer to 2lbs, and it’s not something they are going to cut up to make a single pound serving, so he explained (and showed us on the market price board) that the price for 2lbs (or one whole crab basically) is $21.  Although it was more than she planned on ordering it was still a pretty good price and we all agreed that his explanation was clear and appreciated.  Haylee came back to apologize for not letting us know this ahead of time and admitted she didn’t fully understand it herself until now (understandable and yet also surprising given her highly detailed explanation of the menu earlier).

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Once we had finally ordered (about 15 minutes into our visit) it took just about 10 minutes for the tempura appetizer to arrive.  As we all agreed when we picked it out, you can’t really go wrong with this, no matter where you order it.  It arrived with the usual tempura sauce and also a pinkish looking sauce that smelled and tasted an awful lot like thousand island dressing with a bit of a zing.  It was interesting, though I found myself going back to the more traditional sauce.  The plate contained a handful of plump shrimp, broccoli, zucchini, sweet potato, and green and red peppers.  It was all quite good.

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We had only just started working on this when Haylee came by and told us that our entrees were actually ready to go if we wanted them, so we said bring them on.  Very quickly the table started to get very busy.  First she brought the pasta and side of fries, then followed with the two buckets of seafood.  The seafood was each in a bag.  She came back with several bibs and plastic gloves (that’s new to me).  She then pulled the bags out and placed each one in front of us.  This was a lot to take in.  I haven’t ordered like this in a long time.  I’m sure I’ve mentioned before that I don’t really like eating messy food with my hands, but there was no turning back here.  I suited up and dove in.

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Starting with the crab, this was simple enough.  Armed with a fork, a leg cracker and my hands I went to work.  The snow crab was delicious as expected.  Everything in this bag was very hot at first.  Any hotter and it may have been difficult to manage using your hands.  It gradually cooled off but still remained quite warm, especially at the bottom where all the buttery, garlicy juice was.  I didn’t spend a whole lot of time on any one item, instead choosing to grab whatever looked the easiest to pull something edible from.  The mussels and clams were at the top of that list and I went back to them frequently.  I found the mussels to be probably my favorite item behind the crab.  They were incredibly flavorful and all of them were quite large.  The shrimp were huge.  I didn’t really have any idea what I was doing.  I was just pulling heads, squeezing tails and tearing shells and legs.  I felt like an animal.  It was delicious though.

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I had less idea what to do with the crawfish.  The last time I remember seeing one of these was when I was a kid, camping with the family and we fished some out of a creek with pieces of hotdog.  I don’t even remember if we ate them or not.  The heads of these came off very easily and had a lot of juices inside.  The meat in the body and tail I had a little more trouble getting to.  Taste-wise there were probably my least favorite.  That’s not to say that they were bad, I just really liked everything else a lot more.  Even the corn and potatoes were pretty good, though I only picked at those a bit.

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Eventually I stopped.  Partially because I did kind of feel full, but also because it was exhausting.  I peeled my gloves off which, after handling spiny crustaceans, had been punctured many times over and ended up leaving my hands covered in buttery sauce anyway.  For 2 lbs of seafood I think I did a pretty good job.

Crawfish Factory is a hell of a fun time and everything we had was great.  All the seafood seemed extremely fresh and the flavor was great.  I do kind of wish I had been asked about the spice level because I think medium would have been nice.  That’s about the only thing I can think of that I would have changed.  This was a great dinner.

Website: http://www.crawfishfactoryrestaurant.com

Posted by: Sean Carter | November 13, 2014

#213: The Monk’s Cellar Brewery & Public House

It’s been very quiet around here lately and the reason is that I was waiting for new places to open! Recently, a couple have done so. The Monk’s Cellar and Crawfish Factory have both opened within the last few weeks and had some time to get settled in. I’ll tackle Crawfish Factory next week.

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Monk’s Cellar is a brewery and public house located on Vernon Street next door to Sammy’s Island Bar & Grill. If you have been to any of the downtown events over the summer you may have noticed them giving sneak peaks into the space as it was taking shape, or even sampling their beer at the recent Wednesdays On Tap events. They’ve definitely been putting their name out there for a while and it shows. I met my brother and his wife for dinner on Tuesday and the place was quite busy.

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We arrived at 6PM and through the iconic wooden door (a similar door serves as their logo) we squeezed into a crowded entryway. Two groups were before us and soon a 3rd arrived behind us. The first was seated right away and the 2nd was told it would be about 15-20 minutes for a table, so I was ready to be told the same. Instead we were offered a hightop table that seated 6 (my brother and his wife also had their infant in his car seat). I guess the previous group wanted a normal table. We went ahead and took that and spread out with room to spare.

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I always forget how far back the spaces on this side of the street go back. Inside it is a long and narrow with most of the normal tables in the back. Up front they have the bar and a mix of different small tables plus a counter/island that faces the main brewery room. Another brewing room is just past the bar where they have open fermentation tanks, although they weren’t using them at the time. As far as I’m aware, all the beer on the menu is brewed here, in house. Our high-top table and one other was directly across from the open-tank room. Past that is mostly normal seating, along with a kind of loungy looking corner with a couch and armchairs. This was filled for all but the moment in-between groups where I managed to snap a photo of it.

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We had a little drink menu that was left with us and quickly our server introduced herself, then went off to get us water, a second drink menu and a regular menu as well.  Soon we ordered our beers.  There was a Bier Blanche (Belgian style white.  Light, citrus, fresh), an Abbey Ale (Belgian style dubbel.  Brown, raisin, full) and a London Porter (English style brown porter.  Dark, chocolate, balanced).  All were $5.  I’m guessing the “$3″ on the menu refers to happy hour price, which had just ended when we arrived at 6, according to a sign outside.  All three were good.  The Abbey Ale was very flavorful without being overwhelming or having any one particularly potent note.  The Bier Blanche was nice and light with a very clear citrus aroma and flavor.  The London Porter was mine and tasty to the last sip.  It had a bit of a chocolate scent to it but I didn’t feel that carried through to the taste.  It was actually much less sweet than I would have guessed by the smell.  Very drinkable, especially with my fish and chips.

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The food here seems like slightly upscale typical pub food.  I say that because I can’t say I’ve ever seen mussels or marinated olives in one before, at least not anywhere around here.  All the fries on the menu are duck fat fries, which I’ve usually only seen in gastropubs or food trucks.

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We ordered the olives to start.  These came out in just over 5 minutes.  These were Crystal’s idea, I personally don’t care for olives like this.  I stick to plain old black olives.  These were very, very strong in flavor.  I had one each of the 4 types I saw in the jar and then decided I was done.  Branden & Crystal almost finished the rest and said they enjoyed them.

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Our dinners came out less than 10 minutes after the olives, which was pretty quick from order time, less than 15 min total.  I had the Fish & Chips (ale battered, light & crispy, with duck fat fries and house-made tartar sauce)[$9].  Crystal ordered the Moules Frites appetizer (mussels & duck fat fires)[$10-half pound] and Branden got the Brewmaster Burger (spent grain, white bean & lentil burger, arugula, pickled onion, Gruyere, Russian dressing & garlic aioli, served with duck fat fries or salad)[$10].

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Crystal enjoyed the mussels.  I didn’t even think to try one myself, I don’t think I’ve ever had one.  Her fries came with the same garlic aioli that came with Branden’s burger.  My fries didn’t so I shared hers.  Branden had actually ordered the salad with his burger but they mistakenly gave him fries.  He had wanted to try some of mine anyway so he just kept and ate those instead.  He said the burger, while obviously a big grainy, was pretty good closer to the center where he got a little bit of all the toppings in each bite.  Around the edges where it was more patty and bread was perhaps a little more boring, but he said that’s pretty normal for a veggie burger anywhere.

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My fish was OK.  It was obviously right out of the frier because it was insanely hot and I had to pull it into a few pieces and let it cool off while I worked on some fries.  These duck fat fries are unlike any I’ve had before.  First off, they didn’t have the telltale aroma of duck, and were considerably less greasy than I expected (they’re still a little greasy like most fries, just not to the extreme levels of the duck fat fries I’ve had before).  The color was also very unique.  They were quite dark although not burnt or overcooked as far as I could tell, and the fact that all of ours looked the same seemed to indicate that this is how they make them here.  Flavor-wise they were fine, I honestly didn’t taste much if any duck flavor.  They were pretty good with the garlic aioli, and just fine by themselves.  The fish itself was also just OK.  It was as greasy as it was hot.  My cloth napkin was soaked with grease by the end of the meal.  Texture-wise it was perfect, very thin, crispy batter and buttery-smooth, melt-in-your mouth fish, but there wasn’t much flavor beyond the somewhat bland batter.  Honestly it was the house-made tartar sauce that stole the spotlight.  I don’t even really like tartar sauce that much, but when a restaurant makes their own it’s usually pretty good.  This was no exception.  It was thick and very flavorful.

The service was excellent. Our server came by at just the right moments when we needed something, like when we were ready to order or when we were ready for a 2nd round of beer.  Staff was constantly in motion, including the owners (not entirely sure if I recognized them both, but I definitely saw one of them there).  The noise level was pretty high, lots of hard surfaces for sound to bounce around on.  Overall I thought the food was fine.  The beer is the star here and it’s great that it’s from a local brewery right here on Vernon with a very nice place in which to sit and enjoy it.  I’m sure I’ll be back to try something else on the menu soon.

Website: http://monkscellar.com

Monk's Cellar on Urbanspoon

See this and more from me at Foodspotting.com:

  • House Marinated Olives
  • Moules Frites
  • Brewmaster Burger
  • Fish & Chips
Posted by: Sean Carter | September 27, 2014

#212: ASR Restaurant & Lounge

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Last night I wast joined by my friend Eric to check out ASR Restaurant & Lounge.  This spot opened about a month and a half ago directly in-between John’s Incredible Pizza Co. and the Automall in a building that once was home to a Mexican restaurant, long enough ago that I wasn’t even aware of it while it was there.  They are open from 11a everyday to midnight during the week and 2a on the weekends.  They are arguably one of the more higher-end places in Roseville and has a menu rivaling Ruth’s Chris in price.

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We arrived via Uber just before 7:15PM.  Both our drivers there and back mentioned that they have been taking a lot of customers to and from ASR.  The parking lot was packed.  Eric stepped inside to put our name in as I took a couple photos outside.  I learned that we had a 30-45 minute wait and we took a walk around the bar area looking for a spot.  We didn’t find anything and ended up standing in a kind of square alcove with a narrow counter for drinks lining it.  While they were definitely busy, we were the only people without a place to sit, so it wasn’t hugely crowded.

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We ordered a couple of drinks from the bar, a Firestone Walker IPA [$6] and a Knob Creek neat [$9].  The Knob Creek felt slightly high in price but once I saw the bartender give a good sized pour I was happy. We stood around for a few minutes and then asked if there was room on the patio to wait.  One of the hosts checked to see and then brought us out a moment later.  There was a fair amount of people in the center of the patio, at tables, eating.  As far as the cabanas and other misc seating around the outside though, those were mostly empty.  We were shown the one of the corners where we took a seat on a big semi-circle couch.  On our way through the patio we passed a water/fire feature in the center.  The patio is well isolated from the parking lot and street and you really don’t feel like you’re sitting just off of N. Sunrise.  It’s done pretty nicely.

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We were greeted by one of the three patio-specific servers, Brandon.  He saw that we were good on drinks and showed us the two other servers should we need anything.  We hung out and chatted while we waited on a table.  At one point someone checked on us and asked if we wanted waters or bread.  We passed on the water and opted for bread only.  Apparently he forgot about it because it never came.  Another server got Eric a new beer not long before the host came out to collect us to be seated.  Total wait time was just over 45min.  We were lead back inside and upstairs to one of three tables set up, each with a balcony view.  The balcony goes all the way around and is lined with booths and low tables for drinks.  We were told that they swap out these three tables with more booth seating depending on the time of day.  Also upstairs is a second smaller bar and a banquet room for private parties/events.  It was a pretty nice spot for dinner where we could see most of the place from our little balcony.

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We were greeted shortly by our server Rebeca.  Another server assisted her for a little bit early on, removing the extra place settings and glasses and getting a beer menu to us.  I had just finished my bourbon and ordered a Guinness, which we shortly found out they were out of, so I went with a Newcastle [$6].  This was brought out in the bottle with a frosty glass.  Soon we ordered a couple of appetizers, the Artisan Cheese Plate (Daily selection of artisanal cheese accompanied by fresh fruit compote, candied nuts, honey and grilled sourdough bread)[$12] and Duck Egg Roll (Tender duck confit, sweet onions, brie cheese and shitake mushrooms wrapped in a crisp egg roll wrapper and served with a port wine sauce)[$12].  These took a little over 10 minutes to come out.  Shortly before them came a plate with bread and butter.  The butter was very soft and molded into a flower.  The bread was also quite soft itself, with exception of the crust which had a nice crunch.  Pretty good for bread and butter.

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The appetizers arrived together just after we finished with the bread.  The duck egg rolls were really good.  Crisp and flaky shell with lots of flavorful duck.  I didn’t notice the Brie but everything else was quite good and the port wine sauce was very rich.  This goes up there with my other favorite egg roll appetizer, the avocado egg rolls at BJs or Cheesecake Factory.

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The cheese plate was pretty typical at first glance.  On it was some blue cheese and, we think, a Brie, along with the toasted bread, fruit, nuts and honey.  Whle the cheese was good, we decided that the introduction to this plate was missing a great deal.  Usually when you get a cheese plate you get a little explanation of everything that’s on the plate, often with some background on the cheeses – where they are from, what kind of milk was used, etc.  That didn’t happen here so we had to guess at the cheeses.  Clearly easy with the blue, and the Brie ended up being relatively obvious.  Later, Eric jumped back into discussing the cheese plate and his disappointment with it.  He felt (and I can’t really disagree) that two cheeses do not make a cheese plate.  You should have a variety to taste and compare, and that blue cheese and Brie felt far too ordinary for a place like ASR.  Having been to House of Oliver just last week where I ordered their cheese board, these criticisms felt very valid.  Oliver’s cheese board came with 4 very different cheeses and a proper introduction and, I would add, a much lower price.  While ASR’s menu notes that you can add cheeses at $5 a pop, to match Oliver’s board you’d be spending $22 vs Oliver’s $14.  This could use some improvement.

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In-between appetizers and dinner the manager came by to introduce himself (I think his name might have been Will?), see how we were doing so far and we had a lithe laugh as he complimented our beer vs wine pairings with the cheese plate.  He took one of the empty app dishes and also got me a new Newcastle a bit later.  Sometime before the main course they attempted to dim the lights but had a lot of trouble, almost certainly because they were using compact fluorescents.  They would dim slightly and then go off entirely (CFLs, even the dimming type, don’t really dim that far before shutting off in my experience).  We had the lights go off and on a few times before they settled on off and then brought us a candle for a little bit of additional light.  It was pretty dark.  Photos get a little rough from this point on.  They actually offered to turn the lights back on for me but I didn’t want to bother anyone else and I figured I could take a reasonable decent photo using the candle.  Recommendation to ASR: ditch the CFLs and either go LED or tried-and-true incandescent.

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We only ordered our entrees midway through our appetizers as we were in no hurry, so these were about 30 minutes after we had finished the apps.  Eric ordered the pork tenderloin (Wrapped in house made bacon and served with a port wine sauce and white cheddar fritters)[$26] and I the Beef Wellington (Tender Filet Mignon wrapped Wild Mushroom Duxelle White Truffle Butter and puff pastry served on a bed of Truffle Madeira Sauce)[$36].  I’ve never had beef Wellington but it sounded ridiculous and I felt like splurging.  At this point I have to refer mostly to my own photos since my night vision never really had a chance in the dark with a bright big screen just down below in the center of the downstairs area.  Eric must have enjoyed his because he was done and the plate was gone when I was only halfway into my own.

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I only had a (somewhat sharp) butter knife to work with, however the beef Wellington was incredibly tender and was quite easy to cut through.  The puff pastry was flaky, crisp and light.  Underneath was the Duxelle which was intensely rich with the white truffle butter.  The filet mignon looked to be cooked on the rare side.  I ordered medium-rare, but I’m actually very happy with rare as well.  It was wonderfully flavorful, both on it’s own as well as with some of the truffle Madeira sauce.  Served with it was some super pureed carrots, so light they were almost like a foam, also some asparagus  and what I believe was a brussels sprout and I’m not sure about the last item.  The sprout was good as was the asparagus, which had a good snap to it.  Overall I was extremely happy with this dish and would definitely order it again.

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After dinner the chef came out to introduce himself and see if we enjoyed everything.  With the check we were given a couple of chocolate dipped strawberries and some sort of nut-based sheet thingy.  I have no idea what the deal was with that but it was pretty good and the strawberry was great.

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ASR was a good experience.  I rarely feel the desire to dine at nicer restaurants, but it does happen occasionally.  I would consider ASR next time.  The drinks/appetizers/hang-out lounge side of things is super chill and enjoyable and dinner was very good in a cool (albeit darker than I like) setting.  Our server and all the support staff were on their game, checking on us frequently but not too frequently.  They seemed to appear whenever we needed something or when they were delivering food.  All were very professional and friendly.  While there were a few things that could use some work, notably the cheese plate but also the lighting and the patio servers never bringing the promised bread, I felt that overall the positives vastly outweighed the negatives.  I’d recommend it.

Asr Restaurant & Lounge on Urbanspoon

See this and more from me at Foodspotting.com:

  • Artisan Cheese Plate
  • Duck Egg Rolls
  • Pork Tenderloin
  • Beef Wellington

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