Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Review: The Palace

My friend Lauren and I have made it a tradition to splurge and treat ourselves to a “fancy dinner” every couple of months. We always pick a restaurant that neither of us has tried before and one that gets a lot of buzz. For our February dinner, we decided to try The Palace at the Cincinnatian Hotel. I should mention that we had a Groupon to use, so that contributed to our decision.

We started the evening at The Cricket Lounge – the hotel bar – for a glass of wine before our dinner reservations. Cricket Lounge has some great happy hour specials…including ½ price house wines and $5 martinis. We helped ourselves to a glass of Spanish temparnillo before heading to dinner.
From the second we were greeted by the Maitre' d, the service at The Palace was impeccable. Even though this should be expected at a restaurant of this caliber, I was still incredibly appreciative and impressed. They pulled out our chairs, took our coats, folded our napkin when we went to the restroom, etc. I never felt like they were being pretentious or snobby, like you can often feel in fine dining establishments.  
Now on to the food…it was equally as impressive as the service! We first received an amuse bouche from the chef. It was an edamame salad with finely chopped cucumbers and carrots in miso oil and sesame oil. Very flavorful with just the right amount of crunch! It was such a refreshing way to start the meal.  

Next we split the Herbed Gnocchi. We both agreed that the gnocchi could have been a little crispier but the overall dish and flavor was excellent. The gnocchi was served with roasted brocollini, carrots, butternut squash and red peppers and was served in a butternut squash sauce.    

Lauren tried the Braised Lamb Shank for her entrée and was not disappointed! The meat was so tender it was falling off the bone without any effort on her part. It came with a creamy orzo (the only thing I didn’t try but it looked good), pistachio crusted salsify and a sausage stuffed pequillo pepper. I have never had (or heard of) salsify, but it was very good; however my favorite thing on her plate was the stuffed pepper – hands down. The sausage was spicy and flavorful and paired well with the sweet pepper.

I was incredibly pleased with my entrée as well. I went with the fluke (a mild white fish) that came with butternut squash, fingerling potatoes, mustard granola and lentils in an aged balsamic sauce. That description doesn’t even begin to describe how flavorful and delicious the dish was. The fish was cooked perfectly. It was crispy on the outside and flaky on the inside. Paired with the lentils, squash, mustard granola and potatoes, it was a great combination.

Last, but certainly not least, was the dessert. After all the great things I’ve heard about Summer Genetti, their pastry chef, I knew I was in for a real treat. Lauren and I split the milk chocolate crème brulee and the flourless chocolate cake with beet parfait. They were both out of this world! The crème brulee was topped with rice krispies, which was fun and playful and offered a great crunch (on top of the crunchiness of the caramelized sugar).

The flourless chocolate cake was served with a beet parfait and beet chip, Nutella ice cream, tangerine emulsion, and candied hazelnuts. The mixture of all of them in one bite was so decadent and rich, while still being light enough to eat the whole thing! The crunch of the hazelnuts and beet chip went perfectly with the other elements. We practically licked our plates!

On top of these desserts, each table received a small tray of 4 mini desserts. This included a mini cherry gelee (unimpressive), a chocolate whoopie pie (just okay), a key lime pie (wonderful), and my absolute favorite – a buckeye topped with salt. Stupendous! I’m a sucker for anything that has peanut butter and chocolate, but the salt on top really made this stand out.

The service, the food and all the little extras at The Palace made for a phenomenal dining experience – one of the best I’ve ever had. Our overall bill came to $97 (before tip and without the Groupon), which I would say was a bargain for the experience we had. I’d highly recommend The Palace for a special occasion or just a “fancy” night out!


The Palace on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. Absolutely wonderful food, service, ambiance, etc. I couldn't agree with your review more! There is nothing I would have changed!