A (not so) rave review

This weekend was a beautiful and busy weekend in the D that had me in socializing overload by Sunday. Friday was SATC, and I’m not even going to review that because so many people already have and I’d just be redundant!

DD had friends in town, so that was an added prompt to get his already huge group of friends together. Unfortunately, the poor guy had to work throughout weekend. But, we were still able to have some fun at the Red Bull Air Races, enjoy a schmancy Italian dinner, and appreciate a lazy Sunday to round it all out.

The Red Bull Air Races actually turned out to be a bit of a bust for our group. We were all excited about these teeny tiny stunt planes racing through an obstacle course requiring stunning acrobatics. Or that’s what they told us it would be. Instead, the two-day event was cancelled on the day we went due to high winds. So we were entertained with some fighter jets, other stunt planes, and general air show fare, but otherwise, we were stuck sitting on the roof of a concrete garage for four hours before Red Bull officially cancelled the main event. So that kinda stunk. But on the plus side, with DD at work for the majority of the day, I had the opportunity to hang out with his friends and continue my efforts to join the clique. Most of his friends date back to college, and it’s amazing how close they have all remained. Even the girlfriends have been a part of the group for years, so it’s a little daunting for a newbie like me. But I’m finally feeling like I’m making inroads, and that’s really important for me. I’m the type that just wants everyone to like her, especially when it comes to friends of my significant other. I want them to be there to remind him how great I am for him.

After sunning ourselves, we headed to a local bar for a quick bite and then off to take a nap and get ready for dinner. Dinner was at Roma Cafe, which I was really looking forward to, and also the main reason I’m writing this entry — for a little restaurant review love. Or in this case, not love.

I’ve been to Roma Cafe once before, about this time last year. And I loved it. I loved the ambiance, loved the food, and loved the little old Italian waiter who sung me Happy Birthday before giving me my complimentary tiramisu. This time, I had the complete opposite reaction.

Roma is an old-world Italian restaurant in Detroit’s Eastern Market neighborhood. It’s the only inhabited building on its block, so when the market isn’t open, the area’s a little desolate. But it’s still a destination for Detroiters seeking classic Italian fare. It’s menu isn’t overly creative, but its ambiance makes up for it. You’re served by old Italian men in full tuxedos, who enter your order into a handy palm pilot that (we presumed) sends your order directly to the kitchen to lessen your wait.

Sounds cute and romantic. And perhaps it could be, but on Saturday night I thought it more terse and overpriced.

Terse is thanks to our waiter. There were about 16 of us in the party and we were seated in a side room. Granted, most of us had been drinking all day and we were also amongst friends, so we were rambunctious, but by no means beligerant. We were also waiting for a couple people to join us, but you’d think that wouldn’t faze seasoned waiters like the ones that should be working at fancy establishments like this. Well, almost from the time we were seated, the waiter seemed annoyed and impatient with us. He took our drink orders with a look of disdain on his face and seemed frustrated that we wanted to wait for the remainder of our party to arrive. He also seemed perturbed that we took a little while to get settled, but hey, when there’s 16 people, it takes a minute to get everyone in the room, seated, and happy. Deal, dude.

When we ordered, the waiter had an odd way of going around the table, which I wouldn’t really mind, but then he actually moved on to the next person while one woman was in the middle of her order. Of course then he screwed up the part of the order that he didn’t hear. There were even a couple occasions where he was talking to us as he was walking out the door. Not the best way to endear yourself to your patrons.

The hastiness continued throughout the meal because the food came out insanely quick. I like this in most circumstances, but not at a nice restaurant like this. When you go fancy, you want to sit back, enjoy the atmosphere, enjoy your company, and eating is in fact only part of the entire experience. (As an aside, I think this is why I love, love, love Small Plates. They know how to slow your meal down and make dining a social experience instead of just a means to get your daily caloric intake.)

Anyway, the food came out and it was OK. I ordered gnocchi pesto, which wasn’t bad at all. There were several complaints around the table about the eggplant parmesan being too cheesy or the veal being nothing special, especially when it’s costing something like $25. And there was one outright meal hatred.

Something else I realized was the creativity of the menu. I know it’s supposed to be old-world, but c’mon, can’t you do something a little different than your average fettucine alfredo? I was reminded of when DD took me to La Dolce Vita, a competitor of Roma (and sadly one with no Web site). I can’t remember exactly what I had, but I know it was a cream sauce that was not your average alfredo. I realized I appreciate the creativity.

So, all in all, not a rave review. I could make excuses for the restaurant…we were the last to leave, so maybe they were trying to rush us out. Our reservation was 8:30, and I wouldn’t consider that horribly late in the evening, especially on a Saturday night. And truth be told, for the price, it just wasn’t the place I’d pick. It was good food, but no better than an Italian chain…and much pricier.

In other news, I started a challenge with some of my coworkers today that gains points for healthy behaviors, like exercising, eating right, and setting healthy goals. I’ve already blown one of my goals of walking a half hour each day this week. What can I say, I didn’t realize the Bachelorette was going to be on for 2 hours tonight!

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Filed under DD (aka My Man), Detroit, foodie

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