Sunday, December 4, 2016

Eat, Drink & Be Larry: Clutch Chili Recipe

Chili recipes are like opinions and @$$holes...everybody has one. Here's mine:

  • 3 large onions, preferably Vidalias or something close, finely chopped
  • 3 poblano peppers, finely chopped (but the store I was at this morning only had 2 left so I had to toss in an Anaheim). Poblanos to me are the soul of Latin-inspired cooking. Substitute these for any recipe that calls for regular bell peppers to give your recipe a nice backbone.
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, finely chopped
  • 2 serrano peppers (these are so small there's no way to chop them other than finely chopped
  • 2 shallots
Toss all of above in a big chili pot. Add a bit of olive oil and salt and turn on medium-high heat to sweat it all out.

I use 7 cans of Goya beans in the recipe...usually 1 of each of the following:

  • Dark kidneys
  • Red kidneys
  • Pink
  • Dominican red
  • Black-eyed peas
  • Pinto (why Pinto? AAAARRRRGGGGP...why not?!)
  • Central American red (these can get a little pasty but they work) or another can of Dark Kidneys. Also if you can find the Colombian Cargamanto beans, these are awesome too. Can always substitute any of these out for each other to taste.
Please be sure to drain the beans in the strainer before adding into the pot - maybe 2-3 cans at a time.

  • 2 or 3 cans crushed tomatoes

Stir up what you have so far and add spices as follows to taste. I said "add to taste," not "add to bland." DON'T BE SHY:

  • Chili powder
  • Hot Mexican-style chili powder
  • Cumin (especially not shy with this stuff. People forget about cumin. To me it's mission-critical).
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Black pepper
  • 3 bay leaves
  • Onion powder
  • Franks' Red Hot Sauce (yeah, I put that $#!+ on everything, too)
  • Salt (actually forgot this one as a given in the original post - my bad!)

Mix in everything well. By now you can bring the heat down to low/medium low and cover it all up.

Beer helps with chili. Maybe 1/2 to a full robust, malty beer. Think stouts, quads, barleywine, old ale, Scotch ale or something dark and Belgian-ish. Some of my favorites:

  • Boulevard Dark Truth Imperial Stout
  • Boulevard Sixth Glass Quadrupel
  • Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marrron
  • Unibroue Maudite (the best beer with a burger EVAH!!!)
  • Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout
  • Stone Imperial Russian Stout
  • Anything from a crowler from one of your local microbrewing oases

Throw in a pinch of sugar and add the beer...if there's anything left, go ahead and drink the rest. You earned it.

Now if you're one of those plant-eaters you could probably stop now. I am not, so I will continue...

  • 1.5-2.0 pounds chorizo. Brown, drain the fat and add to the pot.
  • 1.5-2.0 pounds ground beef (chuck or round...80-85% lean works), SEASONED. For Crissake, please season the meat. Ground beef tastes like nothing without seasoning. Add some of the same seasonings you used for the base - maybe even toss in some paprika. Same instructions for the chorizo: Brown, drain and add to the pot.
You're pretty much done with the heavy lifting. Turn the heat down to about as low as you can go without the flame going out. Stir every 20 minutes or so. Every hour taste to add more seasoning as necessary. Again, DON'T BE SHY. Crack open another beer. You earned a full one.

What's awesome about chili (besides everything)?

  • It's easy AF to whip up a batch
  • Feeds a fair amount of people...even for a few days
  • It's one of those dishes that's completely to taste, so there shouldn't be any "that's not what it's supposed to taste like" whining from anyone
  • Can be as cheap as you need to make it
  • Great dish to whip up when you're a poor college student to impress your peeps
Once ready to serve, shred some cheese over the top of each bowl. Sharp cheddar works and so does pepper jack and even manchego. Cornbread goes really well on the side, too. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

#BondAid - Do They Know It's Christmas?

It's Christmastime
There's no need to be afraid
At Christmastime
That CLO tranche is Triple-A

Now in a world of defaults
We done securitized 'em all
Slap a wrapper 'round that junk
It's Christmastime!

But say a prayer
Pray for the "liquid" ones
At Christmastime
It's hard when they gate their funds


The CDS spreads blew up
And we're leveraged to the hilt
And the only orders filling
Are for bunds, greenbacks and gilts

And the high yield market's ringing
With the clanging chimes of doom
Well tonight thank God it's them
Instead of you!

Well there won't be gains in Triple-Cs this Christmastime
That toxic waste, those bids are down at twelve...

Third Av & Stone Lion spoke
Their redemption windows broke
Do they know it's Christmastime at all?

Here's to you
Raise a glass to everyone
Here's to them
There's no flow for anyone
Do they know it's Christmastime at all?

Friday, February 28, 2014

Mom's Basement (The Mt. Gox Bitcoin Blues), inspired by Suzanne Vega's "Tom's Diner"

Here's my satirical commemoration of the implosion of Mt. Gox. I wrote a couple of verses via text this morning on the way from the gym to the office. Enjoy...

"Mom's Basement," inspired and to the tune of Suzanne Vega's "Tom's Diner"

I have Dungeons, I have Dragons
I have cookies that my mom baked
I live downstairs in her basement
Never been with a real woman...

...and even though I'm 30
I have never moved out of the house
I use my Poli Sci degree
At the comic book store


I use alternative currency
To pay for goods and service
Even at the corner bike shop
Where they lube my big-ass skateboard...

...but I have a major problem
I can't pay my EVR bar tab
'Cause Mt. Gox lost all my Bitcoin
So I'm really fucking broke

do do do do
do do do do
do do do do
do do do do

do do do do
do do do do
do do do do
do do do do


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Eat, Drink and Be Larry: Favorite Beers with Favorite Foods

Everyone talks about wine pairings with food. Listen, I enjoy a suitable glass of wine with whatever meal I'm having (OK, whatever dinner I'm having. Maybe a little inappropriate for breakfast and lunch). Some of us enjoy beer, too. I've found that may dishes work almost as well with a good beer as they do with a glass of wine. So, as a not-so-little cheat sheet, here is a catalog of some of my favorite beers with some of my favorite meals.


Style: Imperial Stout
Top Choice: Serpent's Stout by the Lost Abbey

For several years I've been convinced that the best restaurant for a steak is right in my backyard on my charcoal-fired Weber grill. Montreal seasoning does the's that simple and available at your regular grocery store. After propping the thick (~2-3") strip or ribeye upright to let the fat side burn to a crisp for about 90 seconds, I hit the other edge for about a minute and sear on each flat side for about 3:30. The result is a nicely-charred piece of meat that's still nicely rare and juicy on the inside.

Of course, everyone knows that a nice Cabernet with loads of tannin is the perfect complement to a argument here. BUT...there are quite a few solid stouts that are up to the job. Serpent's Stout is by far the best of the lot. The char of the dark malts (with an absence of astringency typical of black patent malt) tie in nicely with the char of the steak, while a rich sweetness on the finish meshes perfectly with the juiciness of the meat. Tomme Arthur of Lost Abbey has provided us with the best...steak beer...ever. No need to polish off the entire bottle by comes in 750s and clocks in at 11% ABV. Have a glass each with your dining partner and alternate between stout and the glass of Cab that's sitting right next to the privacy of your own home, of course. Try won't be disappointed.

If you can't find Serpent's Stout, there are a number of others that work well:

Imperial Russian Stout, Stone Brewing Company
12th Anniversary Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout, also from Stone Brewing Company (not may of these left in circulation, though)
Imperial Stout Trooper, New England Brewing Company
Ten FIDY, Oskar Blues
Cadillac Mountain Stout, Bar Harbor/Atlantic Brewing Company
Expedition Stout, Bell's Beer
Black Ops, Brooklyn Brewery
Black Chocolate Stout, Brooklyn Brewery

For the record, my favorite Cab with steak has been a 2001 bottle of Larkmead. For every day consumption, Concha y Toro Marques de Casa Concha from Chile runs $15-18 at Costco and works just fine.


Style: Belgian Dark Strong Ale or American Dark Strong Ale
Top Choice: Maudite, Unibroue

There are a lot of ways you can go with a beer and a burger; lots of stuff works. However, Maudite works far and away better than others. It may be kind of surprising that a beer from Quebec does wonders with one of America's staples, but it's true. The moderately dark Belgian malt of a Maudite, coupled with the traditional spice profile, make perfect complements to a hamburger fresh off the grill.

Others deserving of mention:
Cold Front, Ithaca Brewing Company
Sixth Glass, Boulevard Brewing Company


Style: Brown Ale, Amber Ale, American Dark Strong Ale (but not a hoppy version)
10 Commandments, Lost Abbey

Lasagna and traditional red sauce Italian are problematic for beer pairings to many. Many people cringe at the thought of beer with Italian food. Italian = red wine. It has to be this way, right? As with steak, such fare is best paired with solid red wines of the region...but if you are insistent on a beer pairing, you really can't go wrong with 10 Commandments. It's a deep dark ale with a hint of rosemary. Be careful, ~10.3% ABV it packs a bit of a punch. Still, it works very well. I'm not sure why Lost Abbey manages to get this honor twice, but it does. Coincidence? I don't think so; Lost Abbey beers seem to work very well with food...perhaps its the hint of various spices found in many of their offerings.

Absent 10 Commandments, I'd prefer a somewhat inert amber to brown ale that has enough heft to withstand the heartiness and spice found in such cuisine and to serve as a sponge for the flavors of the dish. Some possibilities:

Great Pumpkin Ale, Cambridge Brewing Company
Attic and Eaves, Slumbrew Brewing Company


Style: American Dark Strong Ale or Stout
Top Choice: Dark Truth, Boulevard Brewing Company

An awesome fall to winter comfort food, chili brings about all kinds of warmth as winter approaches. Big chili flavors deserve a big beer with a hint of smoke. Dark Truth by Kansas City's Boulevard Brewing Company fits the bill. It has a hint of sweetness to balance the heat and just enough smoked malt to add as a complement to all of the onions, hot peppers and beans (not to mention beef) in a traditional pot of chili. Go ahead and add a few ounces to your pot as well to bring about a more smoky taste should you prefer.

backburner, Southern Tier Brewing Company
Bigfoot Barley Wine, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company


Style: Belgian Strong Pale Ale or Tripel
Top Choice: Don de Dieu, Unibroue

Some brewers happen to churn out beers that go really well with food. Lost Abbey is one, and so is Unibroue. This light-colored yet strong Belgian-style ale is perfect with the delicate underlying flavors of a roast loin of pork, while the mild sweetness complements the more bold savory elements of black pepper, rosemary and whatever else you throw in there. DdD also works well with BBQ pork ribs fresh out of the smoker...although for that you may want something a little bolder (such as the Sixth Glass by Boulevard mentioned above). Other possibilities:

Long Strange Tripel, Boulevard Brewing Company


Style: American Wild Ale (a pale, very dry version with more sour than funk) or Saison
Top Choice: Brute, Ithaca Brewing Company

Well, not a lot cuts the 2 lbs. of butter involved in ingesting "the cockroach of the sea" as Mainers (Mainahs?) so deftly put it as Champagne or other dry, sparkling wines. However, the dry sourness of Ithaca Brute (not coincidentally, finished with Champagne yeast) brings about a nice substitute. Keep an open mind because the Brett-tinged "sours" may not be for everybody, but Brute is a little shorter on funk and longer on tart. If you don't have access to or aren't into sours, use a really dry Saison...and I mean dry. Possibilities:

d'Erpe-Mere, De Glazen Toren
Carnevale, Lost Abbey
Saison de Lente, The Bruery (this gives you a sour hint of Brett found in the Brute with a traditional Saison feel)

Thai dishes

Style: Tripel
Top Choice: Trade Winds Tripel, The Bruery

This may be a little cop-out since Trade Winds is brewed with Thai basil, but screw it. It works, as do most Tripels with Thai food. As with the dryness of a Saison with the heft and creaminess of lobster, the mild sweetness of a Tripel cuts through the thick curries and coats, soothes and relieves the sometimes extreme heat of spicy Thai dishes. Of course, the Thai basil of Trade Winds sews a common thread across the table. Other winners include:

Tripel Karmeliet
Long Strange Tripel, Boulevard Brewing Company (just like the old lady in the Frank's Red Hot Sauce commercial, "I put that $#!+ on everything!")
Allagash Tripel, Allagash Brewing Company
Tripel Threat, Cambridge Brewing Company

Indian Food

Style: Tripel, Saison, Hefeweizen or Pilsener
Top Choice: Hennepin, Ommegang

Many Indian dishes are heartily spiced and carry a fair amount of heft. Accordingly, a somewhat spritely Saison with a hint of spciness works nicely to lighten the load on your stomach. Hennepin is a reasonably-priced and readily available straight ahead Saison that's dry enough to give your palate a breather but not so dry that it becomes astringent. It works great with chicken tikka masala as an example. Other solid complements of note:

Saison Vos, Sly Fox Brewing Company
Mamma's Little Yella Pils, Oskar Blues Brewing Company
Weihenstephaner Hefeweizen, Weihenstephan (sic?)

Thanksgiving Dinner

Style: American Brown Ale, American Dark Strong Ale, Saison, Dubbel

Top Choice: Autumn Maple, The Bruery

C'mon now. The thing's brewed with yams. What's not to like? Patrick Rue and the peeps at The Bruery pretty much made this for Thanksgiving. Deep, dark malt meshes with a hint of yammy sweetness and slides in perfectly between the blunt savory goodness of turkey, stuffing and gravy and the sour and sweet of cranberry sauce and sweet potatoes. A Saison (by now you realize that Saisons go well with a lot of different foods) takes a different tack by bringing along some bright airiness to the meal. Don't go for an ultra-dry Saison here; something with a little more meat on the bone will do the trick.

Allagash Fluxus 2009, Allagash Brewing Company (brewed once so if it's in your cellar, good for you)
Sgt. Pepper, Cambridge Brewing Company
Westmalle Dubbel

Mexican Food

Style: Imperial/Double IPA

Top Choice: Stone IPA

Stone IPA is to beer what Tim Wakefield used to be to the Red Sox pitching staff. He could start, be a long man or even close if he had to. You could slot that guy in anywhere. Add his continuous and generous contributions to the Boston community and the guy was just a solid dude. Stone IPA is the same way. It'll work at the beach, for dinner, with pizza...anywhere. I like it with tacos and other Mexican fare. The hoppiness works nicely and it's about as easy-drinking of an IPA you'll ever come across. Heftier double/Imperial IPAs work nicely here too. Stone IPA is available just about everywhere but other solid choices include:

Double Wide IPA, Boulevard Brewing Company
Ruination, Stone Brewing Company (Stone IPA's big bad-@$$ brother)

I'll probably add to this list so please feel free to take a look every once in a while. A lot of food categories (examples: pizza, seafood) are so vast that it really depends on the specifics of what's on the plate. In any event, don't be shy to try some new stuff out with your meals. Maybe enjoy a glass each of beer AND wine with your meal (all the while drinking responsibly, of course) to see how each play off your meal. Cheers!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Dear Mitt: Flip the Big Bird to the Public Sector and Buy the Red Sox

After Tuesday's election showing, Mitt Romney told reporters that "he's not going away." Well, that's good to hear, Mitt. Many of us find the notion of a shrewd executive doing his best to make government run like a for-profit business with stuff like budgets and spending controls quite refreshing. However, Mitt may want to "explore other opportunities" that he may find more rewarding and less draining (both emotionally and financially) than his quest for public service. If I was Mitt's career coach (and he thanks his personal God that I'm not), here are a few ideas I'd float to the Man from Belmont:

Flip the Big Bird to the Public Sector

OK, Mitt...Newt Gingrich nailed you on this one during one of the primary debates. As you mentioned that you've been in the private sector, Newt popped off that if you had your way, you wouldn't have been because you've been running for office since 1994 when you spent ~$50 million running for Senate against Ted Kennedy. The only reason you weren't in the public sector is that you LOST. Let's see...

1994 Senate (L)
2003 Governor (W)
2008 President (L)
2012 President (L)'re 1-3. Tony Danza's character on Taxi had a better boxing record than your election record. Let's stop spending the family fortune on losing elections and...

Slip into a cozy chair at Bain and get back to work

You want to make a real difference? How about getting back to what you do best...making boatloads of money. Why not? You can still do this and a Special Situations fund with your name all over it would leave a much more enjoyable legacy for your family than a ~$100+ million spent on elections with questionable results. Build and run a successful fund and replenish your family's legacy wealth. There are plenty of Special Situations around to refurbish, enhance and return to prosperity. You could make a much greater difference in this capacity than banging your head against the table because you have to listen to Lizzie Warren for the next four years. Once the investment period in the Bain Special MITTuation Fund wanes down and deals begin to roll off, maybe you can concentrate on what will most likely be the ultimate Special Situation...

Buy the Boston Red Sox

The drain is circling on the Sox right now. Sure, baseball ops can do their best to cobble together a competitive squad and slowly bring them back to contention. However, as long as Larry Lucchino is involved with that organization, he'll have a hand in baseball ops and will ultimately do something to &*(% them up. John Henry and Tom Werner won't combat him, so Boston is stuck with him and a dysfunctional ownership. This can't end well. How it will end is with an angry fan base and a franchise value about 20% off the Pink Hat peak from a year or so ago. What better special situation than the Boston Red Sox around 2017? By then turnaround artist Mitt will be ready for a new challenge. C'mon'll be right there waiting for you. You thought turning around the Olympics was rewarding? Just wait...

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Observations from last night's debate

Well, the kids at @bloombergtv had their evening in the sun with last night's GOP debate. I liked the structure quite a bit. However, this turned out to be a real showcase of this network's increasingly hard-left leaning, from ex-NPR moderator Charlie Rose to the downright rude interruption of Mitt Romney by @juliannagoldman. Here's a hint, Jules: The viewership isn't tuning in to hear you. Let the candidate speak and DON'T INTERRUPT. Even more nauseating was every Bloomie reporter with a Twitter account (yes, @lizzieohreally, I'm talking to you) praising her for this little bit of classlessness. Et tu @tomkeene? I expected a little more from a varsity letterman. We know which side of the aisle y'all fall on. Please humor us by masking it for at least a few seconds every now and then.

So how did everyone do?

Jon Huntsmann: There's no truth to the rumor that they had to squeeze in an extra chair at the table for him because debate organizers totally forgot he was still in this thing...but there should be.

Rick Perry: You showed up to a debate on one huge issue-the economy-without any semblance of an economic plan or any vision or insight. Camera cuts showed you as bewildered as Joey from Friends when he only bought the "K" volume of the encyclopedia and his other 5 codependents were talking about something that started with a "C" (or the other way around? Different letters? You get the idea). Cowboy down, li'l dogie.

Rick Santorum: He sounds like a guy with true knowledge and compassion about life an industry in a large swing state combined with an insider's knowledge on navigating Congress. If he didn't look like he was gonna snap into a full-blown nutty every time he spoke he may have a shot at bottom-billing on the ticket.

Michelle Bachmann: Spot on with ObamaCare. Reservations about adding a sales tax pipeline through Herman Cain's 9-9-9 plan are legitimate. I don't think she's the right messenger. "Sarah Palin with experience and a brain" is still damning with faint praise.

Ron Paul: Three words: VAGABOND...RIGHT...EYEBROW.

Listen, buddy. I get it that you were excited that your Andy Rooney Halloween costume arrived early...but on national (or at least the subsection of "national" that actually knows which channel Bloomberg is) TV at a time when your support is marginal (yet still at least a little vigorous) is no time to break the thing out unless you're certain the glue will hold up in 2 hours of heat from studio lights.

Ronnie stuck to the libertarian script admirably. I want to unleash him like the Tasmanian Devil as Secretary of the Treasury just to see what would happen.

Mitt Romney: Mitt held serve. I applaud him for not backing down to a downright rude Julianna Goldman in defining "hypothetical," but acknowledge that her cronies had a field day with it. In the end, it doesn't matter. Herman Cain questioned the unwieldiness of his 59-point plan, which is entirely valid. Mitt came back with a thoughtful response that did no damage. Still the frontrunner.

Herman Cain: HC got the biggest bump in brand recognition last night. Every time a moderator or fellow candidate mentioned "9-9-9" it was a win for him. His biggest flub was a deadpan answer of "Alan Greenspan" as the Fed chief he respected most, but he qualified his answer with...ummm..."reasonable sufficiency." He, like Romney, held serve.

Newt Gingrich: Y'know when someone asks you to list something not entirely obscure but something you're not used to rattling off every "all the members of the Ivy League?" There's always one on the list that's harder to remember than all of the others. For me and the Ivy League list, I always forget Brown. Sorry, Newt. This morning you're Brown. It's not that you didn't do well last night. Your answers were those of a skilled debater that knows how Congress, DC as a whole and the US economy and healthcare system work. It's just that...well, in the list of GOP candidates, this morning you were Brown...and that's that.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Toronto Dining Review: Lee

Last night, my Beautiful Bride and I visited Susur Lee's Toronto enclave, Lee. It had been quite a while since we enjoyed a night out at a "destination" restaurant so we both eagerly awaited the experience. The 9 PM seating on King Street West seemed a little late when I made the reservation, but it turned out to be extremely fortunate since work responsibilities resulted in an extra-late (although exceedingly fun and satisfying) lunch at The Only Cafe on the Danforth, which ended at around 3 PM, followed by a margarita, a Pisco sour and a few chips and amazing salsa at Eduardo Torres' La Cabana down the street. We made our way to Ossington and Queen, where we snagged a couple of beers at Sweaty Betty's. Then we took a 10-15 minute walk towards Lee and stopped into a BBQ joint next door to catch a least a little of the Bruins game, accompanied with a Maudite for me and a Creemore Springs Premium Lager for my Beautiful Bride. After the 1st period ended with the Bs up 1-0 (and by now we know how it ended), it was off next door to dinner.

We arrived to see a line of about 10 people who we presumed had reservations. However, 10 minutes in, the line hadn't really moved at all. Leave it to my Beautiful Bride to assert herself and speed along the process somehow and finally get us our table. We were seated at an extra-comfy corner table by the window. Our waitress was extremely friendly and offered up her suggestions on specials and drinks perhaps not with the most in-depth knowledge of the offerings, but with great enthusiasm. Good enough start? Sure. My peach lychee martini (Peachee Lychee?) was almost silky. Unfortunately, it took about 20 minutes to arrive at our table. Sure, it's a Friday night and the place was pretty well-filled. Still, the waitstaff across the board appeared frazzled, spastic and generally confused across the board. I can usually get past service issues if the food delivers, so let's see about what matters most...

We ordered two appetizers: the hot & sour soup and the signature Singapore slaw with salmon sashimi. We agreed that the hot & sour soup was the best hot & sour soup we've ever had in our lives. When you get hot & sour from a traditional take-out joint you consider elements of consistency, tang, heat and flavor (OK, maybe salt). Usually you have 2 of these elements truly firing. Good hot & sour may bring 3. This soup was almost no means overpowering but its flavors worked in perfect synergy. The slaw was also quite good...perhaps a little heavy on the peanuts and sweetness, but the salmon provided a solid complement. I can't imagine this dish without the salmon; it would be a Gotham-style pile of peanuts and honey otherwise. The verdict? Quite enjoyable but perhaps not as breathtaking as a signature dish should be.

Something fell apart between the two appetizers and the "entree;" I mention entree in "quotation" "fingers" because our server indicated that it's most appropriate for each person to order two entrees since they're sized as tasting portions. Well, our 2-3 PM lunch left us less-than-starved, so we stuck with one each. Eventually, they actually showed up.

First up: Black cod over shrimp cake. True to the word of our waitress, it was indeed a tasting portion. We saw about 4 slivers of black cod and a fair amount of shrimp cake. Other than the service, this was the most disappointing aspect of our visit. The black cod was gently seasoned and obviously quite fresh, but that shrimp cake was thoroughly uninspiring. It literally had no flavor whatsoever while maintaining the consistency of a failed risotto.

Next we had the salmon ceviche, which was served in a row of six Oriental-style soup spoons. Because of its proximity to sushi, I suggested to our waitress that wasabi would be a nice complement. Unfortunately, there was no traditional wasabi to be had, but after a bit of prodding and several minutes wait, she emerged with some wasabi oil. This stuff was bright, lively and added a little bit of chill to the dish...and I can't imagine the salmon without it. Again, the dish on its own suffered from a little too much sweetness and needed that base-level kick of heat to merge its components correctly.

The wine list had a great proportion of younger offerings...perhaps 50-75 if I had to guess now. Since nothing really blew my doors off on the list, we kept it simple with a Riesling from the Niagara region of Ontario. It was OK but I would have appreciated a little more mid-range depth to the list.

Again we had a breakdown in service after the tasting portions. Our waitress seemed to be covering a little more ground than her capabilities could provide. Accordingly, it took a little while to get the bill squared away. In all, I would describe the service as choppy at best, even for Friday night prime time. I expect wait staff at a destination restaurant to embrace the menu and to express passion about the menu to patrons. Didn't get that at all. What we got was an enthusiastic, friendly and unfortunately somewhat clueless level of service.

On our way out we stopped for a couple of drinks at the bar, where our bartender Chris took care of us quite well with a fair amount of friendly knowledge. The few minutes there inspired me to turn back towards the hostess stand and express my concern with the troubles at the front of the house. Needless to say, my words were not met with extreme kindness from the borderline Napoleonic supervisor of the team up front, indicating that amateur hour was indeed upon us. Chris apologized to us on behalf of the restaurant (y'know, he really didn't have to do that but it was a nice touch) and we left it at that.

Overall, the food was quite good. However, it wasn't so life-changing enough to give a pass to service that I'd term best as sloppy and somewhat unconcerned. It's a damn shame that even a chef as seasoned and well-respected as Susur Lee can have his cuisine underwhelmed by unprepared wait staff and an utterly helpless team at the front of the house, but that's what happened. Did we enjoy the food? You bet, and that's usually what matters. That it was just short of compelling enough to overcome the service difficulties is telling for each of these elements. There's a difference between "excellent" and "enjoyable." The food came up just a wee bit shy of the "excellent" bar, but again it was very good. Was our experience at Lee memorable? Listen, any night out with my Beautiful Bride is a moment to cherish. Did Lee add to the occasion? In the words of the wankers in that old Hertz commercial, "not exactly." The service was far too much of an issue to overcome...sort of like a crappy coat of paint on an otherwise really nice room. Would we come back? Maybe.