#177: Suede Blue

Wednesday night I visited yet another steakhouse, this time Suede Blue.  I was joined by my friend Eric for dinner.  Suede Blue is a relatively upscale steakhouse and seafood restaurant at the corner of North Sunrise and Eureka, right next to both CarMax and the AutoMall.  I say upscale because besides say, Ruth’s Chris or La Provance, I can’t think of anything else that is really towards the higher end in Roseville, and if I can walk into Ruth’s Chris wearing a T-Shirt and have some creme brûlée in the bar, then it’s not really that upscale.  In fact, I don’t think there is a single restaurant in Roseville with any kind of even remotely strict dress code.  Anyway, yes, so Suede Blue has been on my radar since they showed up years ago, replacing the Carver’s Steaks that previously occupied the location.  I was aware that it was a steakhouse and that it was probably one of the nicer restaurants in town, but that’s about it.  I had never been to Carver’s so I didn’t really know the building either.

We arrived at about 6:15PM and strolled into the big entryway / waiting area.  A nice big leather sofa offered a place to sit in comfort.  To the right was the bar.  It was happy hour and the bar was fairly busy.  I stopped in there on the way out to take a gander at the liquor selection, bourbon in particular.  They had about 4 or 5, but nothing particularly interesting or top shelf-worthy.  The bar area itself seemed fairly nice and they had a decent selection of everything else.  As we walked up to the hosts desk we were greeted by the lone hostess and taken to a table immediately.  The dining room was pretty quiet, just a few other tables were occupied.  The space consisted mostly of booths.  It was nicely lit, a touch brighter than I would have expected, which we both agreed was actually kind of nice.  We were seated and the hostess handed us our menus and took two extra place settings with her as she left.  Within a minute or so we met our server.  He asked if we were celebrating anything, which we weren’t.  I wondered if that was a normal question or if it had anything to do with the fact that we were the youngest customers there by about 20-30 years for the majority of the night.  He asked if we would like to start off with sparkling water or tap.  We went tap and he left momentarily to get that.  When he returned he took our drink orders and listed off their beer selection from memory when Eric asked what pale ales they had.  Eric went with a Mirror Pond Pale Ale and I a Deschutes Black Butte Porter.  He took the wine glasses from our place settings as he left to get those going.

We started going over the menus for a few minutes before bread was delivered.  Thin slices of…actually, I never did decide what kind of bread it was.  It was topped with sesame seeds and the edges had a nice crunch to them.  The pads of butter that come on a separate little plate were cold and difficult to spread as the bread was about room temperature.  The bread was OK.  Our beers followed the bread by a few minutes.  At this point our server asked if we were ready to order.  We had wanted to get the Teriyaki Tenderloin Skewers (pineapple teriyaki marinated filet mignon) [$10.95] for an appetizer.  This is where we had our first issue, although we didn’t realize it yet.  I’ll take this moment to point out that the PDF menu I snagged from their website right after getting home is seemingly out of date and some of the descriptions are a bit off from the menu we saw there in the restaurant.  For instance, the price on this appetizer was a dollar more on the physical menu and it described it as coming with four skewers.  He asked us if we wanted two, and we kind of looked at each other with slight confusion and asked how big the skewers were, and confirmed that four came with it.  We said yeah, two sounds about right (thinking two skewers a person, as most rational people probably would) and carried on with the rest of our order.  Eric got the 10oz Filet Mignon (our most tender steak cooked to perfection served with your choice of au gratin, mashed or baked Yukon potatoes) [$33.95] (online says $31.95).  He ordered it rare and with the mashed potatoes.  I considered ordering a steak to compare with the ribeye I had last weekend at Tahoe Joe’s, but something else was calling to me.  The Pistachio Almond Crusted Sea Bass (topped with avocado butter, served on Moroccan couscous and melted leeks) [$23.95].  I had an otherworldly sea bass on a cruise many years ago and I’ve been chasing that experience ever since, with no luck so far.  I order it anytime I see it.  With that, our server was off.

Our appetizers (yes, plural) showed up about ten minutes later. We both realized immediately what had happened in that conversation earlier. Now we each had our own 4 skewers of teriyaki tenderloin. We found that annoying and would have much rather tried two different items had we intended to get more than one appetizer. As far as the skewers went though, they were pretty damn tasty. The filet mignon pieces were nice and tender and the teriyaki sauce rich and flavorful. These came with a ramekin of additional sauce. I am not certain if it was the exact same sauce that was already on the skewers, but it seemed to be a bit sweeter. Duplicate order aside, it was an excellent start. Sometime around here Eric flagged our server down as he passed by and asked for another Mirror Pond. We went on with our conversation for a while. When the new beer finally came out, delivered by another person, we realized it must have been at least 5 minutes or more since he had asked for it. It felt like a long time.

About 25 minutes after the appetizers had been served came our main entrees. Eric’s steak was served simply. It sat on the side of the plate next to a big pile of mashed potatoes and a side of sauce – for the potatoes apparently. The steaks come with a choice of peppercorn, Bordelaise, Bernaise, or mushroom sauce and also a choice of peppercorn, espresso and chili, brown sugar & sea salt, or garlic herb crust. Eric had chosen the peppercorn crust and no sauce for the filet mignon. He cut me a bite of the steak later on to try out and it was fantastic. It was perfectly cooked, extremely tender and super flavorful (not in the buttery way the ribeye I had at Tahoe Joe’s was, but flavorful on it’s own).

My sea bass was presented more intricately. It had the wonderful, golden crust on it and was served atop couscous, leeks and some type of green beans, all surrounded by a shallow pool of a cream sauce. A small dollop of avocado butter was on top of the bass, right in the center, and was topped further by what I believe were green onions, or some variety of them. My first bite of the sea bass was from the end and mostly consisted of the pistachio and almond crust. That was awesome, tasty and with a great fine but crunchy texture. My next bite was more fish, and it was not what I was hoping for. Instead of a melt-in-your-mouth, delicate consistency, it was rather dry and firm. Several more bites in it didn’t really improve a lot. I felt that it was very much overcooked. The couscous and cream sauce, which were both great, went a long way to help me get some enjoyment out of the dish. The avocado butter didn’t really come through at all. At one point I found a long sliver of bone, which is always a bad time. Altogether very disappointing, unfortunately.

We sat and hung out for a while after finishing dinner and finished up some more beer. No longer distracted by food, we started to examine the restaurant in some more detail. It was now that we began to notice some little things that we felt did not belong in a restaurant that was going for the more upscale experience. Many of the light fixtures had multiple bulbs out, and one of them even had a crooked lamp and another that was mismatched. As one of the employees refilled our water, he seemed unconfident in what he was doing, filling it most of the way, starting to set it down, then deciding to pour some more in. Little details like this, the slow beers and unpolished level of service started to add up.

Later, on a trip to the restroom, it was like walking into another world. Going from the hardwood floors to weird sea foam green tiles, it felt like you had stepped into a Target. There was a candle in a jar between the two sinks that was burnt around the top and had the Mainstays label on it (which is clearly designed to be removed, by the way). This is the same type of cheap candles I have found at Walmart. The illusion was breaking down. The PDF menu available on their website contains a disturbingly low-resution Suede Blue logo at the top which feels very sloppy in contrast with the fancy flash interface and music you’re greeted with when visiting the site. In the end I am left with the opinion that this place is run with the intention of being one of the nicer restaurants in Roseville, yet it’s like they don’t really know what that means. At the price I paid, a bone in my fish isn’t really acceptable, let alone it being overcooked. I can’t say I expect to return.

Website: http://www.suede-blue.com

(Scanned) Menu: Click Here

#176: Tahoe Joe’s Famous Steakhouse

Last night I was joined by my friend Justin for dinner at Tahoe Joe’s.  This steakhouse is located at the corner of Taylor Rd and Roseville Pkwy, surrounded by the biggest concentration of Roseville hotels I can think of.  They opened their first location in Fresno in 96 and have grown to just under 10 locations in the central valley since then.  I’m not sure how long the Roseville location has been here, but I feel like it was before they had completed the Roseville Parkway / I-80 overpass.  I haven’t been here to eat in quite a long time, though I did visit the bar with a group of people after a wedding a year or two ago.

We arrived just before 7PM to a crowded parking lot.  There is a medium-sized patio which had gas heaters cranked up but no one to warm.  We headed through the doors and into the very warmly lit interior.  Wood is the theme here (ski lodge), and there’s a lot of it.  All of the divider walls that create different sections, booths, the bar, canoes, you name it.  A big stone fireplace in the waiting area is both a neat decoration as well as a place to sit.  If you were to immediately turn to the left after walking in you would find yourself in the bar area.  Here a big rectangular bar dominates the space, framed with wood and surrounded by tables on one side and booths on the other.  We did not visit the bar this evening, but if I recall, they have a decent liquor selection and a somewhat poor beer selection.  I cannot comment on the wine.  I’m sure they have some but I didn’t even look at that section.

We approached the host’s counter and were greeted immediately by the two or three people standing there.  The place looked packed but we were sat immediately.  I’d say 70% or more of Tahoe Joe’s is booth seating.  Some are larger than others.  If my memory is correct, I think this is the restaurant that has removable dividers between some of them, allowing larger parties to be seated in booths.  I didn’t see any of these last night though, so maybe I’m mistaken.  We were sat in a section of regular tables and had a 4-seater to ourselves.  Almost instantly after sitting and being handed menus, our server Matt was at our table to introduce himself and take our drink orders.  I needed a moment to look at the beer selection.  He named off around 10 or so beers they had on draught and I consulted the menu for the bottles.  Nothing too impressive.  Justin had ordered a Long Island Iced Tea (or a Tahoe Tea, according to the receipt) [$8.25].  When this was delivered I went ahead and ordered a 22oz draught Shock Top [$7.50].

Justin’s tea was very, very sweet and had absolutely zero alcohol taste to it.  I suppose that’s the point of a LI iced tea.  My Shock Top arrived quickly in a very tall and skinny mug.  Unlike my recent Shock Top at Diamond Plate, this one had a fairly thin slice of orange so I was actually able to taste the beer.  I hadn’t taken a serious look at the menu yet, so I told our server that I still needed a couple minutes.  I was going to get a steak for sure, it was just a question of which one.  I settled on my usual, a ribeye, rare.  This comes in 14oz [$25.99] or 22oz [$29.99].  14oz seemed like plenty, and it comes with green beans and a choice of a baby greens salad, mixed greens salad, caesar salad or soup and also a choice of a baked potato, mashed potatoes, vegetable rice pilaf or fries.  The host had informed us that the soup was clam chowder, so we all know that I chose that.  For the other I picked the baked potato.  Justin ordered the Twin Petite Filets (two 5oz bacon-wrapped filets topped with your choice of garlic butter or Gorgonzola cheese) [$28.99].  He went with the Gorgonzola and when asked how he wanted his steak cooked he questioned “rare+?”.  Matt described their medium rare as red throughout with a warm center, which is what Justin went for.  He also asked if they had Béarnaise sauce, which he is always on the hunt for.  They unfortunately did not have it.

We chatted for a while and just about five minutes after ordering, a few things arrived.  We received a basket with two small sourdough rolls, Justin’s Caesar and my chowder.  Wow.  This was a seriously huge bowl of clam chowder.  This could be an entree on it’s own.  It was also incredibly delicious.  I may have just found one of my top clam chowder’s in Roseville.  I had some fresh black ground pepper added to it, and overall the soup had a significant peppery flavor to it.  I do not believe that the small amount that was sprinkled on top in front of me was what gave it that.  Anyway, this was a totally awesome, creamy, flavorful, massive bowl, and I devoured it knowing that I would be hard-pressed to finish my main dish.

15 minutes after the soup and salad had arrived came our steaks.  Matt set Justin’s twin petite filets in front of him.  My baked potato sat ready to accept toppings.  He had a little carrier with small bowls of butter, sour cream, bacon and chives.  I enthusiastically said “all of it,” when asked what I’d like on the potato, and he went to work.  I don’t know if this is his normal serving amount or if it was due to the way I said it, but he seriously piled all four toppings on.  Like no kidding, nearly a ice-cream scoop sized amount of butter to start it off.  I’m not complaining, it was pretty epic, but man, that was the most toppings I’ve ever seen put on a potato in front of me at a restaurant.  Usually I’m kind of thinking in the back of my head, “c’mon, scoop a little more bacon on there”.  Nope, not this time.  Plenty of bacon (there is, in fact, such a thing).  Ha!

With the potato loaded, Matt headed off and we went to work.  Cutting into our steaks with our standard issue steak knives we each found them to be cooked just as we had wanted.  Mine met the description of “red throughout with a cool center” perfectly.  This ribeye was fairly easy to cut and had fewer big chunks of fat than I usually see in one.  It was extremely flavorful.  Let’s be honest here, it was almost certainly slathered with butter just before leaving the kitchen, but it was delicious nonetheless. I somehow ate the whole thing along with about half of my butter-soaked potato and a handful of green beans (you know, because I’m trying to watch my figure).  Justin commented that his entire meal was good.

Overall I was extremely pleased with this dinner.  Total damage was just over $70.  The drinks were a little overpriced in my opinion.  Everything else seemed reasonable for what you got.  Our server was on top of things.  He seemed to show up right when we needed him, never too soon or too late, like he was reading our minds.  I rarely go to steakhouses that often, maybe once or twice a year, but I’d probably put Tahoe Joe’s at or very near the top of my list (Suede Blue is coming up soon, so I’ll get to see how our local steakhouses compare nearly side by side).

#175: ZS Indian Market & Chaat house

Tonight I wanted to do something relatively quick.  I picked out one of the newest places on my list, ZS Indian Market and Chaat House.  This Indian Market is located on Pleasant grove near Foothills, just behind that new little Starbucks drive-thru stand.  They opened back in late October.  Obviously, in addition to the market side of things, you can order food to go or to eat there.

I arrived at about 4:50PM and headed in.  I was greeted by the owners upon walking through the doors.  Both were very friendly.  I headed to the counter, where one of them was standing, to take a closer look at the menu.  I told him I had no idea what I wanted and asked if he had any recommendations.  He asked if I liked spicy food and I replied that I did like things a little spicy.  He pointed out the wraps and also suggested the Samosa Chaat from the Chaat side of the menu.  I took a minute or two to read pretty much the entire menu.  Most of it is small items for $2-4.  The meals, most of which are wraps, were all $5.  The meals come with fries and and a soda (which I did not realize right away).

He pointed out that his wife, behind the register towards the front, would take my order when I was ready.  I headed over there and told her I would have the Tandoori Wrap (Tandoori chicken [thigh meat] with veggies, onions & mint chutney, wrapped in plain paratha) [$4.99]  as well as the Samosa Chaat (Vegetable samosa [potato shells] with spicy garbanzo curry, onions, sweet & spicy chutney & cilantro).  This comes in a full plate [$3.99] or a half plate [$2.50].  I asked her how big the half vs the full was as well as the wrap.  After she showed me generally how big each one was using her hands I decided to go nuts and do the full order.  Not realizing that my wrap came with fries and a soda, I also ordered a mango lassi.  I chatted (ha) with her for a bit about my project to eat everywhere and then she called my order over to the kitchen.  Right before I had ordered I noticed a sign on the register saying cash only for transactions under a certain dollar amount(can’t recall how much), and I panicked internally for a moment because I realized that the prices were cheap enough that I wasn’t sure I would go over that.  It turned out I did have some cash on me, so I was fine, though I ended up spending just over $11 so it would have been OK anyway.  I took a couple photos and then a seat near the window.  I was asked what kind of drink I wanted, and that’s when I realized my mistake.  I opted for the bottle of water that was offered to me after I said that I didn’t need a soda.

The Samosa Chaat took about 5 minutes to prepare.  Right before it was ready he confirmed with me from the kitchen that medium spicy was good and I said that sounded good.  I picked it up and grabbed a spork and some napkins.  As I turned around I saw that my mango lassi was also ready, so I also picked up a straw.  The full plate was…big.  Much bigger than I had anticipated.  A half order would have been PLENTY.  It was also much more intricate than I was expecting.  I was envisioning the standard crisp samosas sitting by themselves on a plate, but these were sitting in a sea of the garbanzo curry, covered sweet & spicy chutney, and sprinkled with little crispy noodley-looking bits, onions, tomatoes and cilantro.  The one thing I wish I had was a knife, as working my way through this with the spork by itself was a little bit of work.  This was incredibly flavorful.  Every last bit of it.  Everything was nice and hot, the samosas were crisp on the outside, and I was left with the perfect amount of spicy heat.  I almost ate the entire thing but forced myself to stop after about 80% as I realized I still had a wrap and fries on the way.  The mango lassi was pretty good.  It was chilled, though I felt like maybe it could have been a little colder.  It was a little more tart than others I’ve had in Roseville.

Ten minutes after I had picked up my samosas from the counter, and pretty much exactly when I was finished with them, my tandoori wrap was ready.  I picked that up from the chef, and he followed behind me to bring me my bottle of water.  The wrap was a very reasonable size for the price, and I was actually glad to see that it wasn’t huge, because I was already kind of full from the samosas.  Cut in half, you could see the signature bright red color of the tandoori chicken inside.  I didn’t have any idea what paratha was, so I was expecting something similar to a typical wrap, like a tortilla.  This appears to have been lightly fried, or perhaps grilled?  I’m not sure, but it was warm, flakey and looked tasty.  I bit into the wrap and got a little bit of everything.  It was well constructed and the ingredients were evenly distributed.  The chicken was delicious.  Perfectly tender and flavorful.  The onions had a nice crunch and everything else was just right.  The mint chutney was very creamy, not what I had expected (perhaps it was something else?), but it was very good and worked well in the wrap.  I demolished both halves of this fairly quickly.  On the verge of exploding, I picked at the fries for a bit, which were nice and hot and mostly pretty crisp.  They were dusted with some kind of seasoning that I couldn’t put my finger on.  The ones that had the most were delicious.  The fries that didn’t have a lot were borderline boring.  Maybe needing a touch of ketchup.  It didn’t matter that much because I was stuffed and only ate a third of them anyway.

I was very impressed with this little market.  Everything seemed to be fresh and made to order and was all very reasonably priced.  Kind of makes me wish I still worked over at HP so I could come get lunch here.  The owners were both fantastically nice and helpful in answering all of my questions and were very accomodating.  I very much recommend it.

Website (none, so Facebook): https://www.facebook.com/ZSIndianMarketandChaatHouse

(Scanned) Menu: Click Here