J. Alexander’s

4077 Lake Cook Rd. Northbrook, IL 60062(847) 564-3093redlandsgrill.com

020910  (Taylor Jones / The Palm Beach Post). PALM BEACH GARDENS. Restaurant Review of J. Alexander's Restaurant in Palm Beach Gardens.

I’m not gonna lie, my fangs were bared and I was full-on ready to pounce all over this place. Shitting on it like something out of a relentless Family Guy sketch. I mean, c’mon, it’s in a Deerfield, IL office park for Pete sake! Your expectations get about as low as a snake in a wagon trail. Not sure where that Ross Perot-ian metaphor just came from, but you catch my drift.

Plus, the moment you walk in, the décor just screams casual dining chain (which it is), the likes of Bennigan’s and Applebee’s. So there I was at the table, seething at how foolish I was for taking the word of the girl at the front desk over at the Hyatt, when suddenly, BAM! BA-BAM! No, not gun shots. That’s the sound my ego makes when I’m wrong.

All three starters were really impressive. My favorite of the three being the deviled eggs with candy bacon and pickled slaw. But so was the smoked salmon salad with crostinis. And, of course, just to spite me, so was the Hyatt recommended fried calamari, which was shockingly tender, with a nice kick in the sauce to boot.

For my entrée I went with the coffee rubbed rib eye, served with a sizable mound of mashed potatoes. And while both were good, this was decidedly the weakest dish of the night. Fortunately, the Prisoner zinfandel I ordered by the glass to go with it was sensational. Making it the third best “Prisoner” I’ve ever experience. The first being sung by the band Squeeze. The second being the movie starring Hugh Jackman, which is technically plural.

For dessert, J. Alexander closed strong with two desserts so massive that after the five of us each took at least two bites apiece, there was still enough left on the plates to be considered a reasonable serving size. But please don’t take the stranded portions as a sign of mediocrity, because both the Key Lime Pie and the Chocolate Cake with vanilla ice cream (pictured) were very on point. We were all just stuffed to the gills by that point.

Sure, it’s a casual dining chain, but in the land of lowered expectations this place stands proud and tall, with the service to match. Take note all of you other chains out there, because this place has cracked the code like Benedict Cumberbatch in The Immitation Game.

4 teeth

 

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Rocks on the Roof

102 W Bay St. Savannah, GA 31401 • (912) 721-3800bohemianhotelsavannah.com

20110216_savannah_4_insider_560

Ahh, the magic of photography. I mean just one look at this picture and you’re probably in your car heading to the Bohemian Hotel right now. But I assure you that it looks absolutely NOTHING like this in person. Maybe for a scant 15 minutes at golden hour when you’re really, really drunk. For the other 23 hours and 45 minutes a day it looks like a black expanse over the Savannah River filled with swampy brush, industrial warehouses and an ugly rooftop Hyatt courtyard to the right. On the plus side there is a nice fire pit on the right to help distract you.

Back on the downside, the decor inside feels like it was decorated in the 80’s and the crowd is not exactly what one would call inspiring. Sure, there was an occasional promising couple here or there, but for the most part you felt like you were in Compton sipping Gin and Juice. If only the drinks were as tasty as that, though. And I took special offense to their “Ultimate Bloody Mary,” using a term, MY TERM, to modify something so unworthy it only served to dilute the meaning of the word itself, feeding into consumer skepticism. making my own “Ultimates” section less credible by osmosis. But I assure you, my Ultimate Bloody Mary will not disappoint (coming soon; see Burger and Barrel).

And as piss-poor as the Bloody Mary was, their bellini was a pea in piss-poor pod. Flavorless and unfinishable. In fact, we left both drinks stranded, half full.

1 tooth