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#21 Calabrese

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Posted 12 November 2005 - 09:00 AM

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#22 ExtraMSG

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Posted 12 November 2005 - 11:36 AM

You know, Jill. I sure miss the days when you were writing reports all the time. You're so descriptive I feel like I ate with you.

The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

Nick Zukin, Mi Mero Mole

Co-Author, Artisan Jewish Deli at Home

Formerly, Kenny & Zuke's


#23 EvaB

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Posted 13 November 2005 - 02:22 AM

My dining partner of the other night and I had a pizza "recon" discussion this aft. We feel like Nostrana takes the thin crust concept a hair too far (and this from at least one confirmed "thin crust devotee"). While the outer edge is about right, the center of the skins could be a little bit thicker to avoid, or address, that soupy center condition. Also, the knife they give you to cut the thing up, a large serrated one, also serves to tear the toppings up pretty crudely. It's true that in Italy and Portugal where I have had the best pizzas, the pies were served whole and I can't remember what kind of utensil they offered to help with dismemberment. I almost want Nostrana to cut the pizzas into quarters with a nice big sharp chef's knife, and save me the hassle and poor job at the table.

I still like the taste of the toppings though.

I have to say that I am far from throwing in the towel on this restaurant. I feel like perhaps high hopes were raised based on..what? The cooking pedigree of one of the owner/chefs? This is not Genoa, and it is not intended to be. Some things are better values than others, but there is little on the menu that is more expensive than the least expensive item on, say, Gino's menu (the 75 cents worth of pasta with clam sauce for, as I remember, $15-$16) and to my taste anyway--and in the end that is just what this is--most items Nostrana offers are interesting, but interesting in a simple, Italian home style way, not an "haute cuisine," or "melange of unusual counterpoints" type way. Overall, I fail to see how a place where two people can eat well for $72 total, including a bottle of wine ($32) and two additional glasses of wine ($14), can really be considered to be a poor value. If you don't like the food, then yes, it's a poor value for you, but because you don't like the food, not because it is universally overpriced.

I agree that the service needs work. But lately I've found lame, irritating service at Roux, Noble Rot, Cafe Castagna, Wongs King, A Pizza S., and many other Portland favorites. Is this an excuse? No! But I think Nostrana, where in my experience the servers cheerfully acknowledged their mistakes and corrected them, and did a fine job of attending to some often overlooked details like replenishing water, and clearing/replacing plates and silverware, is getting slammed, perhaps unfairly in the larger context. Would I like them to make a concerted effort to improve? Hell yeah! But to chacterize this as the restaurant's "fall" or to decide not to go back is, I think (I hope!), a bit premature. (The mysteriously ellusive bread is admittedly VERY strange!! Our expreience was so similar to Jill's that it's...well, conicidence? I think not!)

My thoughts, way too late at night!

#24 Calabrese

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Posted 13 November 2005 - 10:01 AM

Removed another post not written by me

#25 chefivy

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Posted 13 November 2005 - 06:07 PM

I didn't really notice the prices, it was about the same for pizzas we bought about a month ago in Italy.
What burned me up was the fact that Cathy Whims has a PR machine that was shouting from the highest mountain to anyone that would listen, for 1 year, that she went to Napoli to study how to make pizzas in the traditional way. I would say I'm addicted to the real thing, and I'm willing to eat so-so if it means it's even close to the real thing. I personally watched while she made my crust, while she chatted with her coworker who made my companion's crust...his turned out at least not paper thin in places, mine was sloppy and poorly made.
Oh btw, I think I know why the steak tasted off, in plain site of the bar seats a huge rib of beef sat on the dirty wooden table in the kitchen for the entire time we were there..that was 1 hour and 25 minutes. Noone seemed to be in any rush to break it down. I know I know, you've got a four hour window there, but still...sloppy.
I was also annoyed by the chattiness, people were making asses of themselves shouting their well wishes to the chef/owner over our heads, then she'd stop working on an order and come out and chat with them for ten minutes, then meander back to the kitchen. We had to wait FOREVER for our food, that is just irritating, yes?
ps. the three times I've been sent by C.S. to do reviews of Genoa I hated it. So?

#26 rodneyLOW

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Posted 14 November 2005 - 10:33 AM

 Oh btw, I think I know why the steak tasted off, in plain site of the bar seats a huge rib of beef sat on the dirty wooden table in the kitchen for the entire time we were there..that was 1 hour and 25 minutes. Noone seemed to be in any rush to break it down. I know I know, you've got a four hour window there, but still...sloppy.


I make it a rule to not get involved in the opinions posted about something I'm involved in. That is all personal preference and I'll leave that to the diner. When the information turns false though I have a hard time not responding.

It seems interesting to me that a well travelled "chef" such as yourself can't tell the difference between a side of beef and a side of pork. Just for future reference the difference would be the color and about 100lbs. Was it on the table for 1 1/2 hours without anyone touching it? I doubt it. I bring it out towards the end of the night to break it down and season it for the next day. If I get orders at my station during that time I have to take care them before finishing the process.

Now this is just my opinion but I also found it a little funny that beautiful 6 inch thick Boos Block would be called a "dirty wooden table"

That's all I'll have to say on the subject. Justed wanted to clear up the mis-information.

rodney

#27 chefivy

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Posted 15 November 2005 - 10:44 PM

oh. I guess I didn't understand that pork and beef had totally different bacteria growth time frames and also didn't know that expensive wooden cutting blocks are necessarily cleaner than inexpensive ones. my bad.

#28 Uncle_Kyle

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Posted 16 November 2005 - 05:35 PM

Now, now boys, play nice.

#29 keith

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Posted 16 November 2005 - 08:14 PM

Words have an incredible power on the internet. As a small business owner I have personally experienced the power of a chat room. I think that we should be careful about what we write. I would hate to see the good name of Portlandfood.org get drug into the mud.

I have not eaten at Nostrana, but it seems that they have been given some very clear input about your recent experiences. Lets hope that this input has been helpful and not hurtful. In the end what we’re all looking for are great places to eat in Portland

#30 Angelhair

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Posted 17 November 2005 - 07:58 AM

Keith:

Are you saying that people who have dined at a restaurant should not report back because of the damage it might do to that establishment? Or that as a whole we should temper our criticism so that place can continue to thrive (not lay another log on the fire)?

IMO, if there is anyone that should mind their posts, it's the restaurant owners and workers themselves.

If a place suffers because of bad food/service, ummm, what's the problem here?

I say thanks for saving me $$$!

#31 Calabrese

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Posted 17 November 2005 - 08:41 AM

Removed another post not written by me

#32 EvaB

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Posted 17 November 2005 - 10:38 AM

Nicely said Jill! I can't help but wonder if Keith's comments were inspired more by the meat/chopping block line of this thread, than by anything you or others wrote earlier. I felt the discussion had devolved a bit at that point.

Per your earlier post, I have not tried the fig appetizer so I can't comment on that specifically, but I'd agree that the appetizers I have had at Nostrana, though generally good, were low on portion size in relation to price. I do think the meat dishes are reasonable though, in both respects.

Both time I've eaten at N. I have shared food with a dining partner. Not like "try a bite of this," but split portions. The combination of half an appetizer, half a pizza, half an entree, half a salad or dessert, is a ton of food for me. Maybe I'd think differently about the portions if I'd experienced them differently.

#33 Amanda

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Posted 17 November 2005 - 10:42 AM

Usually a place has to be pretty awful in some huge way to get me to post ultra-negatively or viciously about it. I pretty much love to eat anything and will give it all a chance. I really don't care for snotty service, though, so sometimes I will not go to a place where it sounds like folks have been treated indifferently or worse by the host/hostess or waitstaff. I like to tip nicely as a general rule, so if I stay away from places that don't deserve it. I'll steer clear. I'll say whether I like a restaurant or not, usually, but I'm not as detailed and good about my critique as, say Jill-O, Extra MSG, or Vincenzo.

The only places I can remember really slamming on this board were Mint and Patanegra. But who's going to listen to me over the papers that made both restaurants (at the time of their articles, at least) seem like the darlings of their day.

Best regards,

Amanda

#34 girl_cook

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Posted 17 November 2005 - 11:48 AM

I think Keith was speaking more to accusing a restaurant of poor food handling as well as being dirty. This IS dangerous as well as just plain wrong.

I, for one, am glad Rodney responded to these improper accusations as well as the wrong product ID. Reviewing food is one thing, but making unfounded claims against sanitary conditions is another.

#35 Angelhair

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Posted 17 November 2005 - 12:07 PM

I, for one, am glad Rodney responded to these improper accusations as well as the wrong product ID. Reviewing food is one thing, but making unfounded claims against sanitary conditions is another


Girl: It doesn't matter what kind of hunk of meat it was...she saw it sit there for over an hour on a dirty table. How is this "unfounded"? It's a first-hand report.

#36 ExtraMSG

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Posted 17 November 2005 - 12:15 PM

My opinion has always been that there's less of a burden on posters on websites like this one to be charitible than on newspapers and magazines. Once they write what they write, there's no discussion and no taking it back -- no counter-experiences to come. That said, I've argued here and elsewhere for charity in reviewing and I believe in that. But that shouldn't ever mean giving up honesty. It just means constantly reflecting on what you right to see if you're being fair or not. I'd prefer us Americans to stay the straight-shooters we are and not devolve into European style criticism where reviews fall into two categories: poetic prose gushing over a spot and clever critiques disembowling restaurants, where witty one-liners are more important than truth.

I have no problem with Ivy stating what she experienced, even when it is harsh. And just as much, I think it is good that Rodney spoke up and challenged her assertions. What I don't like is the name-calling that can go along with such back and forths.

The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

Nick Zukin, Mi Mero Mole

Co-Author, Artisan Jewish Deli at Home

Formerly, Kenny & Zuke's


#37 ExtraMSG

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Posted 17 November 2005 - 12:20 PM

Angelhair, it is worth noting that even if what Ivy says is true, you get four hours under Oregon health codes. I often go food shopping for an hour and since meat aisles are almost always among the first to be hit, right after produce, the meat stays in my cart, uncooled for that long, and then has to make the trip home, too. And if I'm shopping in Portland...

The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

Nick Zukin, Mi Mero Mole

Co-Author, Artisan Jewish Deli at Home

Formerly, Kenny & Zuke's


#38 girl_cook

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Posted 17 November 2005 - 12:33 PM

Because if someone isn't close enough to be able to correctly identify a piece of protein then I fail to see how someone can be close enough to assess a table as dirty. And to call someone 'sloppy' even IF the the protein was out on the table for 1.25 hours(which Rodney says it wasn't) is just plain wrong in my opinion. I'm in the industry, I know what the law says as well as what reality and common sense tells me.

#39 girl_cook

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Posted 17 November 2005 - 12:34 PM

And even a non-chef should be able to tell the difference between a side of ribeyes and a side of pork. It isn't rocket science.

#40 malachi

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Posted 17 November 2005 - 02:27 PM

chefivy... out of curiousity, have you ever seen 28 day dry aged beef before it's cleaned?

and you do realize that steak should always sit at room temp with salt for at least an hour if you want to get the best flavour, right?


there are many things to criticize about Nostrana.
I, too, had poor to bad service.
I, too, found the pizza to be so wet it was nearly inedible.
Going beyond viable and valuable and well-founded criticism to non-factual innuendo and accusation, however, is pointless and ends up with even the well-deserved criticisms being ignored.