Saturday, January 3, 2009

Paradise Bay

My husband wanted to try a new place we haven't been to before for his birthday dinner. I had a hard time coming up with places, but I narrowed it down to Johnny Garlics and Paradise Bay. Since Johnny Garlics was so far away and the menu seemed a better lunch option, we decided to go ahead and try both places. JG for lunch (see below) and Paradise Bay for dinner.

Paradise Bay is located on Bridgeway in Sausalito with a nice big parking lot, so its convenient. They don't take reservations for parties smaller than 6, so we took our chances and walked in at about 7:45 on a Friday night. As we pulled into the empty parking lot, we saw right away that this was not going to be a problem. It kind of worried me that the place was dead on a Friday night, but a lot of people are just "done" with the going out thing and a lot of places are closed on the second of January. Trust me. I've had a lot of difficulty finding restaurants to dine at on the second over the years.

As we walked in, I noticed that sure enough, the place was empty. The hostess greeted and seated us by the window in the back. It was fun to see the boats with their Christmas lights up, but my daughter complained that it was rather chilly. There were actually two other occupied tables all together, so we weren't the only ones there. Whew. The decor was really pretty and this place really has a lot of potential. I was shocked that they had no daily specials.

We ordered two appetizers: a crab, prawn, & calamari cocktail and steamed Manilla clams & PEI mussels in a ginger, coconut-lime cream sauce. The cocktail was ok. There were only 2 prawns, a couple chunks of crab, and way too much calimari, which I left to my husband. I thought that the presentation could use some help. The tall breadsticks sticking out of a high ball glass looked strange and I thought it should have been served in a lower, wider dish. The sauce was just ok. The shellfish, however, was delicious. We all shared it, so I only had one clam and 2 mussels, but they were really good tasting and the texture was perfect. The sauce was aromatic and delicious, but was a little cold. In fact, everything was cold.

I asked the server if he would recommend the filet mignon or the New York with prawns & Mongolian sauce. He suggested the filet. It was a certificed organic Prather Ranch filet, looked to be maybe 6 oz, served with butternut squash & sage ravioli, Maytag bleu cheese, served with Cabernet Demi-Glace & Tempura asparagus. Sounds pretty good, huh? The steak was cooked to order, was very good, but was at the most, warm. Maybe lukewarm. It was served in a puddle of demi-glace, the bleu cheese was too overbearing, and the ravioli were soggy. I couldn't even taste the squash or sage. The Tempura asparagus was laid on top of the steak, which was on top of the ravioli, so the asparagus was not soaked with sauce, but they were so greasy that all I could taste was oil. I couldn't tell if I was eating a green bean, let alone asparagus. The only thing I liked was the steak, and that was all I could manage to eat. I think they would have been better off just putting a drizzle of demi-glace over the steak and keeping it far away from the ravioli. And perhaps serve it hot. Just a thought. Like I said, this place has potential.

My husband asked the server if he would recommend this dish or that dish. His answer did not include either dish, but two other dishes. I thought that was odd. My husband went ahead and ordered one of his own choices, which was the Cioppino. It was served in a large bowl with two breadsticks spearing out of each side. I thought the presentation was beautiful; it looked delicous. It had fresh Dungeoness crab, mussels, clams, prawns and fish in a broth of tomato & fennel. I didn't try it but he said it was pretty good, if not a lot of work! Which is why I didn't order it! I ordered Cioppino at Yankee Pier a while back and it was delicious, but it took me forever to finish. No complaints about the Paradise Bay Cioppino.

Both the girls ordered the cheeseburger. One was ordered well done but came back clearly medium. She desacrated it so much that it was impossible to send it back. Neither of the girls ate more than a quarter of their burger saying it tasted weird. I took a bite, so did my husband, and it was actually quite good. I like my burger to be medium well, but sometimes medium is good, too. I did let the server know that it was not cooked to order, but that it wasn't necessary to send it back at that point.

Overall, I have to say I was disappointed in Paradise Bay. The service was fine but lackluster. The busboy was friendly, but our server just seemed bored. And who can blame him? The place was a ghost town! Its a shame because they have a good menu, the flavor is there, but everything we got was served cold. You would think that since we were one of very few diners that they would have been able to step it up a notch. We didn't bother mentioning that it was my husbands birthday. Just a few little changes could go a long way. Until then, I doubt we will return any time soon.

Its really too bad. Lots of potential (redundant, I know!), great location, beautiful interior, decent service, but cold food, meat not cooked properly (or at least how we ordered it), too much flavors battling against a steak, etc. etc.

Johnny Garlic's Pasta Grill

We are huge Guy Fieri fans over here, as I may have mentioned before! We've been to Tex Wasabi's twice, so we decided that Johnny Garlic's was a great place to go for my husbands birthday lunch yesterday. Its a bit of a hike, took us about 45 minutes to get there. Its in a suburban area, not downtown like both locations of Tex W's.

We were greeted right away and seated in the covered patio area. It appears as if on a beautiful day, the plastic panels could open up, but yesterday was wet and cold. It was a little dark in the back; they could have used some light or at least opened up the blinds more.

We ordered the Key Lime Calamari to start. It seemed undercooked to me, so I had just the one piece and left it at that. The marinara sauce was "on point". :) My husband and youngest daughter enjoyed the curly part of the squid with delight, as me and my oldest daughter sqeamishly looked away. ;) The menu was large and very diverse, but I decided right away on the Johnny's Dip, which was a large portion of roast beef, melted pepper cheese (I saw no peppers...), and served on a nice soft roll and with a ramekin of au jus on the side. It came with chips, but I ordered a green salad instead, which was just ok. It looked pretty, but the veggies seemed kind of old. My sandwich was pretty good and very filling--I wasn't able to eat all of it.

My husband had the pasta and salad combo, in which he chose the Volcano Chicken Penne & Caesar. He said it was delicious, and it sure looked good! My daughter Rory had the same, but she opted for the Penne Pomodoro. She said it was good, but complained that the portioned seemed small.

Bella, the youngest, had the kids chicken tenders & french fries. The chicken was breaded and fried and looked way over done.....but she said it was really good. She couldn't even finish her dish.

Overall, the food was fine, the service was great, but I'm not sure we would make a special trip up there again. If we happened to be in the area, then yes, we'd dine there again.

We still love Guy Fieri! Can't wait for all the new Food Network shows to begin next week. I need to make a trip into Mill Valley to check out Tyler Florences new place.