Welcome to EatWisconsin, the blog formerly known as Undelicious. This blog will focus on the food, the people, the history, and restaurants in the State of Wisconsin. Though we will focus primarily on the State of Wisconsin, there will be occasional forays into other Cities.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Please revoke my Passport

We recently moved from Wauwatosa to Waukesha. It has been somewhat of a culture shock. We are used to having tons of good restaurants within a short distance after living on the East Side of Milwaukee and in Tosa. We are encouraged by the renaissance that downtown Waukesha is experiencing. Without it I don’t know that we would have moved here. I was delighted when I read this summer that a new restaurant called Passport Point would be opening downtown. There is already one good upscale restaurant near downtown and that is Eric’s Porterhouse. This Friday we decided to venture out an try somewhere new. I had a bar in mind but when we walked by it seemed empty and nobody was eating. Not a good sign. My backup was Passport Point.
When I checked out their website and menu I had a hunch that this was mediocre restaurant trying to sell itself as a place for upscale international cuisine. Something seemed off. The tag line on the website and menu was "A Chef's Tour." The prices seemed obnoxiously high for what appeared to be average offerings. A Southwest Pasta dish with fettuccini and shrimp for 20 bucks and Pecan Chicken for $17 seemed very overpriced, especially considering a couple bucks more would get you a entrée at Ristorante Bartolotta and a couple dollars less would get you an incredible meal at Sol Fire. Despite my perception of the menu and prices I decided to give it a try. Perhaps we would discover a gem within walking distance to our house. We were promptly seated and I was encouraged by the fact that about 60 percent of the tables were occupied. Our server stopped by and told us about the specials which included a traditional fish fry with beer battered cod, a coconut crusted Mahi Mahi, and Talipa with fruit salsa. I love Mahi Mahi and coconut encrusted stuff so it was a no-brainer. My wife ordered the traditional fish fry and we decided to share them with each other. We were offered our choice of starch and soup or salad. We both opted for the twice baked potato and clam chowder.

Soon after placing our order our server brought out a bread basket and our soups soon followed. The clam chowder had a bit of a spicy kick, which I appreciated. It was not too thick and was loaded with clams. It was delicious and I eagerly anticipated how our entrees would fare. Unfortunately the chowder was the just about the last good thing we would taste that evening. The Mahi Mahi crust was good but was somewhat thick. The fish on the inside was terribly overcooked. When you overcook fish it becomes chewy and the delicate flavors are lost. The twice baked potato looked like it had some panko bread crumbs on it and it was flat on top, not stuffed and fluffy like you would expect. The panko (if that is what it was) wasn’t even toasted, just kind of dumped on there. I couldn’t tell if there was any cheese inside. It tasted like bland garlic mashed potatoes crammed back into the skin. Technically they were twice baked but the result was definitely half-assed. The vegetables were sautéed zucchini and squash. They were ok but nothing too outstanding. Overall the dinner was pretty bad.

On to the fish fry. Fish fries shouldn’t be too hard to master. Take fresh fish, batter it, fry until lightly golden, eat. Somehow they managed to fuck it up. My measure for the success of a fish fry isn’t very complicated. If it tastes as good or better than Culver’s fish fry, it is good. You see, Culver’s chain of fast food restaurants creates a perfect everyday Fish Fry. The fish (Cod) is always cooked perfectly; the tartar sauce is great, cole slaw is good (a rarity among most fish fries) and the French fries are excellent. If a fast food establishment can mass-produce such a good fish fry, I believe a bar or restaurant should have no problem doing the same. I am by no means one of those suburban asswads who votes for Red Lobster as the best seafood restaurant (I’d vote for Scotty’s Crab House) and Olive Garden as the best Italian (Carini's La Conca d'Oro if my fave). People like that should continue to eat at those shitholes so people like me who enjoy independent restaurants don’t have to wait 2 hours for a table. But I digress. What I am saying is that my bar for quality isn’t really set that high.
Unfortunately Passport Point must have mistaken my bar for a limbo stick. How low can you go? Very low apparently. The smallish pieces of cod looked like something out of a Mrs. Paul’s box. The fish inside was also way overcooked and didn’t even appear to look like a filet inside. It was mealy and falling apart and not in the good “flaking apart” way that you like to see. It was so terrible my wife couldn’t eat more than a few bites. We are not usually complainers but we informed the server (who was awesome) that the fish was overcooked when asked how our meals were. They also provided a comment card, on which we made our complaints known.

This place reminds me of Indigo at 60th and Vliet Street. They have a neat name, great location, interesting décor (more so for Indigo) and good beer and wine selection. However both are mediocre to bad restaurants masquerading as fine cuisine. Just because you have interesting names, high prices, and a variety of items found on the menus of upscale restaurants doesn’t mean shit if your kitchen cannot cook them properly. My measure of a good upscale restaurant is if I can reproduce a dish better in my own kitchen, it isn’t worth spending my money. How this place can charge upwards of 20 bucks an entrée for bad food is beyond me. We should have just gone to the empty bar or Culver's to eat.
We went to Dicsount Liquor and got some Port and Lakefront Pumpkin beer so the night was not a total loss.


Post a Comment

<< Home