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Old Granite Street Eatery Reno

Steak tartare with quail egg at Old Granite Street Eatery

Old Granite Street Eatery says they’re all about comfort food and quality. While some menu items fall into that category (like their pot roast and grilled pork chop), other items are more atypical American comfort food; such as their steak tartare. However, all are made using as many local, fresh and organic ingredients as possible. This lets their flavors shine without being fussy.

Service is super professional, yet hip and casual like their modern-farmyard décor. Their bar serves Makers Mark as their house whiskey (gotta love that!), feature daily micro brews, and pay attention to the details like making their own maraschino cherries so you avoid chemical craziness in your glass.

I’ve been there several times. Some items are good, others great. Some seem like a whimsical afterthought, especially for the price. For example, I’d gladly pay $3.00 for the smattering of house made pork rinds. But $3.00 for deviled eggs? Seems as silly as paying $7 for a PB&J sandwich at a diner.

An essential to try is their steak tartare – the highlight of their charcuterie plate.  It comes with baguette slices grilled for a wonderful smoky flavor that balances the bright tartare nicely.

If you’re the type of person who likes to finish off a good meal with a rich cup of coffee, be sure to order a pot with your dessert. I

Old Granite Street Eatery scallops

Pan seared scallops in pine nut, cauliflower, caper sauce at Old Granite Street Eatery

love it when restaurants understand how good coffee is like the exclamation point at the end of a lovely meal. These guys get it.

Happy hour is a good deal with wine and beer at half off, but no discounts on food. For fun at full price, try one of their cocktail creations. Tasty and inventive flavors.

The restaurant has limited seating. Reservations are recommended if you’d like to avoid waiting. They’re open until midnight on Friday and Saturday – convenient for late night dining after a party or show.

In a nutshell
Rated on a scale of 1-5, where 5 is stellar:
Taste – 5
Quality – 4.5
Service – 4.7
Price – $$

Where to find ‘em
243 South Sierra Street
Reno, NV
(775) 622-3222
oldgranitestreeteatery.com
Hours: M-Th: 11am-10pm, Fri: 11am-midnight, Sat: 10am – midnight, brunch from 10am-4pm, Sun: 10am-4pm

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The Bowl Restaurant review

Grilled chicken breast over quinoa and parsnip puree at Bowl Restaurant, Reno

Bowl Restaurant is the latest reincarnation from the owners of the now closed Sezmu. Everything’s served in bowls, and the food is fresh, beautifully executed, filling – yet light, and very delicious. But that may not be enough to overcome their poor service.

The restaurant is located in the downtown West Street Market. After months of being open, they still don’t have a sign outside of the building – so it’s very easy to pass right by and miss them (hint: they face West St.).

It’s a tiny, casual place where you walk up to a counter and order from an ever-changing chalkboard of items.  The person taking the order was civil, but extremely aloof. Wouldn’t crack a smile, and didn’t seem thankful to see a customer. Considering it was the lunch hour and only one other table of two were there, you’d think she’d be nicer.

The food came out quickly and was beautifully made. After inhaling the chef-y flavors and visually drinking in the precise presentation, I was eager to dig in. I had the grilled chicken breast over quinoa and a parsnip purée. The chicken was moist, perfectly seasoned, and each layer in the bowl was just as skillfully made.

I was so in love with my meal, I decided to try Bowl again for dinner a month later. Another person was up front taking the counter orders. She was as cold and aloof as the other gal. Even my guest noticed this and he usually doesn’t comment about these things.

Fried calamari, romaine and fennel salad

Fried calamari, romaine and fennel salad at Bowl Restaurant

It was Friday night and a bit busy for them with 7 tables (all two people each) and a few take-out orders. I’m usually pretty understanding of crunches when everyone seems to come at the same time. But it took over 70 minutes before our dinner arrived. During this time, no one came by to let us know it’s on its way. The two people up front just ignored everyone staring at the counter wondering where our dinners were. Then when they finally dumped it on our table, there was no apology for the long wait.

Making it worse, the person who took our order and delivered our dinner, forgot our hummus appetizer. When she delivered our dinner, I mentioned she forgot our appetizer and can just reimburse us for it. Rather than apologize and agree, she just looked at us like we were being disagreeable not wanting our appetizer WITH our dinner and over an hour AFTER we ordered it. She just said, “Well, I’ll just go get it for you now.”

The hummus sucked. It was a lemon juice overkill and felt like we were pickling our tongues with each bite. The accompanying pappadum was broken into wedges and stuck in the hummus. Although it looked cool, it was a bad idea because it made the pappadum as soggy and pleasant to eat as cornflakes left overnight in milk. Mush.

I’m surprised and disappointed by how poorly run Bowl Restaurant is. Sezmu had attentive, professional service. As repeat restaurateurs, you’d think the chef/owner would be more aware of their customer service. That’s the face of your restaurant. I’ve talked to several people who’ve gone there and they all have similar feedback: great food, poor service.

As much as I enjoy the food there , the consistently poor service (during busy times and slow), is enough to make me not want to return. At an average $14 an entrée, the bad service is enough to make me cross the place off my list. The only thing the front room staff does is take your money and pop your food on the table. They don’t talk to guests, they don’t even give you water – you have to get everything yourself. If they were at least friendly, I wouldn’t mind. But they seem annoyed by customers rather than grateful for them. If the chef/owner is reading this, pay attention to the front of your restaurant as you do the kitchen, so you can be the success you deserve to be.

In a nutshell
Rated on a scale of 1-5, where 5 is stellar:
Taste – 5
Quality – 4.5
Service – 0
Price – $$

Where to find ‘em
148 West St.
Reno, NV 89501
775-327-4443
www.thatbowlrestaurant.com
Hours: Tues-Sun 11am-11pm

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Freeman's Natural Hotdogs

Nitrate-free all beef dog on an onion poppy seed bun

Freeman’s Natural Hotdogs strives to make the good ol’ American dawg look like gourmet health food, which lets you indulge without the guilt. And yes, they do have veggie and vegan dogs too.

Freeman’s advertises their entire menu—down to their ketchup—are made from the freshest, most nutritious ingredients as possible. This means sea salt instead of typical table salt, and unrefined sugar instead of the processed white stuff. Everything’s made from sustainable, organic ingredients, pesticide-free, and locally sourced when possible.

You can build your own dog, choosing from unique sausages including buffalo, uncured chicken, to vegan chipotle sausage.

Then match it with one of the buns made daily at House of Bread down the street. And go wild with toppings like chipotle lime aioli, rice cheese, and raw probiotic sauerkraut. Oh yea, there’s the typical relish and mustard too for you traditionalists.

For those who can’t decide how to build their own, Freeman’s offers specialty dogs like the Pinoy Dog made with pork sausage, pineapple chutney, and Asian coleslaw. Or the Dirty South made with an all beef dog with bacon, BBQ sauce, gorgonzola cheese and onions.

Sounds like fun, but the big question is…how does all of this effort taste?

For a comparison against the Costco $1.50 standby, I tried an all beef dog on onion poppy seed bun with sauerkraut, onions and brown mustard. It tasted noticeably better, less salty (thank you) and nitrate free, which I prefer.

The bun was nicely soft and fresh, but turned gummy as I chewed it. Much like cheap white bread turns to glue in your mouth. For me, that was a turn-off. The regular sauerkraut tasted bland and was so crispy and raw, it resembled a quick 10-minute pickling for light flavor rather than a true 3-week fermentation.

Freeman's All Natural HotdogsOverall, Freeman’s Natural Hotdogs seems like a great place to get your junk food fix, or to wake up your taste buds with unusual flavor combinations on a familiar base. But be ready to shell out some bucks for quality. My simple dog with two toppings (mustard free) cost nearly $6.00. That didn’t come with a bag of chips or a drink.

In a nutshell
Rated on a scale of 1-5, where 5 is stellar:
Taste – 3
Quality – 4.7
Service – 2.5 (order at the counter)
Price – $

Where to find ‘em
106 California Ave.
Reno, NV 89509
775-322-3434
www.fnhotdog.com
Hours: Mon-Thu 10am-7pm, Fri-Sat 10am-10pm, closed Sun

 

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Garabaldi restaurant review

The tiramisu at Garibaldi's in Carson City

Garibaldi’s is one of Carson City’s more popular restaurants. The menu features all of the usual pasta dishes from spaghetti and meatballs to linguini in white clam sauce and doesn’t get too fancy.

From their daily specials to their regular menu, everything seems to be made with a bit too much of something. Too much oil in the dressing. Too much blackening spice on the Cajun shrimp salad, too much sauce drowning the tiramisu… And everything’s made more American style, so don’t expect the food to taste like it was made by someone’s grandma from the old country.

Aside from being a bit salty and dense, the meatballs were tasty and could be a satisfying meal by itself if you toss in a side salad.

Their service is friendly. However, they tend to be inconsistent with staffing so you never know if you’ll end up waiting 20 minutes for a table or walk right in.

In a nutshell
Rated on a scale of 1-5, where 5 is stellar:
Taste – 3
Quality – 3.3
Service – 3
Price – $$

Where to find ‘em
Garibaldi’s Ristorante Italiano
307 N. Carson St., Carson City
775-884-4574
Hours: Lunch Mon – Fri, 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dinner 7 nights a week, 5 – 10 p.m.

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