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Restaurant Reviews - Dec 2005

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Wildflower Revisited                                        

We made yet another return trip to Wildflower the other night to celebrate a staff birthday and check up on things. Since Wildflower is a place we've reviewed positively in the past and continue to recommend highly when anybody asks for a good place to dine, we figured it might be a good idea to check back and make sure we weren't looking like idiots in case any significant deterioration of staff or fare had occurred. What we found was that, while everything is still pretty top notch, they appear to be slipping just a bit with all the success. It's the little things, after all, that make the difference and, with so many dining options in this town, these little things could prevent us from automatically parroting the word Wildflower whenever anyone asks us for dining suggestions. Or we could just have visited on an off night. It was really nothing major so we'll be brief.

After making reservations on their website we arrived and were promptly seated. It wasn't crowded and the service staff arrived immediately to clear away extra place settings, fill our water glasses, explain the specials and take our order. It being a special occasion, or what passes for one around the Goliard these days, we were in the mood to relax and enjoy ourselves in a leisurely way since we had procured baby sitting for the entire evening. Before we knew it however, all of the above tasks had been expedited and we had plates of food in front of us. We looked at our watch to find that we'd only been in the place about seven minutes. Too bad we weren't in a hurry to make a show or something. Our main waitress seemed pleasant enough but was somewhat distracted and let an empty beer glass sit through two table visits without asking if we wanted another. The bussers kept the water full however and, since we weren't really in a swilling mood, this didn't have the negative effect it may have on a more boisterous evening. We had just buttered our first hunk of bread when the appetizers showed up.

The food, for the most part, remained excellent even if we could barely get our breath between courses. We sampled the spinach salad with apples, gorgonzola and glazed pecans (which were proclaimed to be exquisite) and the warm brie plate which is accompanied by roasted garlic and sautéed red peppers. The brie, garlic and peppers were delicious but the toasted baguette on which to place them was hard and crisp to the point of nearly causing a dental incident. Such is the way it is supposed to be probably but is not to our liking and we ended up using more of the yummy bread for the purpose instead. We were still chewing a piece and thinking about asking for more when a food runner appeared to slap down our entrees.

One of us had decided to forgo the lemongrass scallops this time which are usually delicious and instead sampled the braised country pork ribs. The dish is actually ribless thankfully and the meat was soft and tender although a bit on the bland side. The other of us is more a creature of habit and went with her old standby, the bowtie pasta with chicken, spinach and toasted pine nuts. It was good, she said, except that there were no pine nuts in it at all which are normally one of her favorite parts. We couldn't figure out why this would be except that maybe they ran out although given the fact that Wild Oats is about a hundred yards away you would have thought someone would have run down to grab some. Perhaps just an oversight by a new or distracted chef.

In any event we had a delicious dessert and espresso and the bill came and we paid it. Having worked in food service for most of our adult lives and having made most of our money off gratuity we are normally very good tippers and can't bring ourselves to leave less than fifteen percent no matter how bad the service is. Typically, we leave between twenty and thirty percent depending on which of us pays. Since our waitress had been distracted at best and absent and inattentive at worst, we left sixteen percent or so in this case and, no sooner had we placed the signed slip on the table when she swooped in like a seagull and carried it off. It used to be traditional at places professing to have any class whatsoever to leave the bill on the table until the customer has left unless it is late in the evening and a table is camped out chatting and drinking and the staff is trying to cash out. This wasn't the case here obviously and maybe things have changed with servers these days and the new tactic is to take the bill and look at it in front of the customer so they'll feel embarrassed about not leaving enough. We weren't embarrassed in the slightest and would have been happy to discuss the sixteen percent with our girl but she didn't return to the table once the deal was done although she did pass by looking down her nose at us a couple of times. All of these things were only mildly annoying cumulatively and we left feeling full and satisfied despite having to kill an hour or so before returning to the babysitter. We spent it strolling around Casas Adobes and enjoying the holiday lights and the clement evening. We even stopped into Wild Oats and picked up some pine nuts.

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