Monday, January 14, 2013

50 New Things in 2013: #1 Picasso's Grill in Athens, AL

This year I have promised myself to try 50 new things. This includes visiting new places, going to new restaurants, trying new things in general. I won't do anything crazy like jump out of an airplane or bungee jump because I want to live to see 2014. And maybe what I'm doing won't excite anyone at all, but this is more for me than it is to excite someone else. I'm trying to find ways to stimulate my brain, my heart, my soul. And I'm desperate to find a fabulous dining experience in this area. I have been to Albany Bistro in Historic Albany many times for lunch because it is a good restaurant, locally owned, and the atmosphere is eclectic and different. If you want a nice lunch/dinner, check them out.

Bearing my experience at Albany Bistro in mind, the Physicist and I decided to visit a place we'd heard about from a friend: Picasso's Grill in Athens, AL. I checked out the website and despite a few spelling errors and typos, I thought the place looked interesting and the lunch menu appealed to me.

The Physicist and I drove out to Pulaski, TN to buy his favorite scotch (it's $20 cheaper per bottle there and it's like a buy 2, get 1 free deal). It's about 45 minutes from here and a lovely drive; especially on a bright, sunny day with crystal blue skies. After we got his much coveted scotch, we returned via Athens and went to Picasso's Grill.

I loved the interior design--the owner's wife painted the mural and decorated the small restaurant and bar in red, black & white. The seating was comfortable and they'd refurbished church pews and different ladder back chairs, painting them a shiny black. The service was phenomenal. I could tell that the personnel took pride in this new establishment and they want it to succeed. The restaurant was full--just past lunch hour it still had lingering guests who were taking home leftover halves of sandwiches, so I had high hopes.

After analyzing the menu, I decided to order the Steak & Blue sandwich and the Physicist ordered the Cuban Sandwich. Both came with steak fries or homemade cole slaw. We also ordered a glass of wine (yes, we are decadent that way) and it was a nice Zinfandel. So far, so good. I was excited. However, my excitement was short-lived. Unfortunately, our sandwiches didn't meet our expectations. They were "good," but not great. There wasn't enough meat on my Steak & Blue sandwich to warrant the price, the horseradish cream sauce was non-existent, and the blue in the blue cheese had evaporated. The meat tasted fine, but it was a meager portion. Not that I needed a half a pound of meat, but still... Then the Cuban sandwich failed to satisfy for similar reasons. Not enough meat or pickles and very little Dijon spread. The steak fries were okay, but the cole slaw was divine.

The problem for me is usually the fact that I am a good cook. And the challenge is to find something that wows me for the price. Sorry, but I wasn't wowed. That being said, the owner did come out and we told him about our experience. What we liked and what didn't work for us. He listened and he took note of our suggestions. Then he encouraged us to return for dinner and try that menu. Given that this is a new restaurant and the owner is willing to listen to his customers, the Physicist and I will give it one more try for dinner.

Stay tuned for the results of that experience. So off I go on another adventure. Where will I go next? Any suggestions for good, amazing, non-steak and/or seafood (I'm allergic to shellfish so I can't hit the Japanese/Thai/etc. restaurants in the area) dining experiences in Northern Alabama?


Anne Gallagher said...

Being a professional chef for over 20 years, I NEVER go out to eat. NO ONE ever meets my expectations. I'm a sorry food snob that way.

Christine said...

Yes. It's been really hard for me. I try to go to places where they make things I am not well-versed in like Middle Eastern, Greek, etc., but there are not a lot of restaurants in this area that serve that kind of fare. My shellfish allergy rules out all the oriental types of foods. :( So it's a good thing I love to cook. Still, it would be nice to find a fantastic place that just wowed me. On the lookout for one for sure!


Patricia Preston said...

Besides Bubba's?

Christine said...

Hahaha Patricia.