I’ve been horrifically sick for the past week or so and have been slipping off the blogging bandwagon a little bit, but now that I’m feeling like a human being again, let’s talk about my first trip to The Manor Casual Bistro where we celebrated JP’s quarter life crisis aka Priscilleighfest 2012. As I was (am?) still sick, I missed the after party at The Druid (they have amazing onion rings!), but I still had a great time at The Manor.
The Manor is in this (for lack of a better word) manor off 124 Street and has two floors of dining space. I didn’t know what to expect since a manor makes me think of little old ladies and fussy table settings, but the inside was pretty sleek with dark tables and chairs – the white plates and napkins provided some lovely contrast. JP’s party was on the second floor where we essentially had a little room for our group of 25 people. I loved the room and the little pops of red and with the sun just getting ready to set, there was beautiful light coming in the windows – I also really loved that my seat on the banquette was right next to the red cushion (I like feeling special!). But why read my description when a picture is worth a thousand words (do four pictures equal four thousand words?)
Now that we’ve covered the decor, let’s move on to the good stuff – dinner! Actually let’s make a brief detour for cocktails – due to cold medications, no alcohol was allowed for me (luckily JP didn’t have this problem!) but A. kindly let me grab a photo of her drink, the Manor Paloma – Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice, Mezcal Vida Triple Sec, Fresh Lime and Agave Simple Syrup. The Mezcal gives the drink a very smoky flavor, so if you’re not into that, this is probably not the drink for you.
Cocktail hour and waiting for other guests to trickle in (A. and I were a smidge early) meant I was ravenous when the first course arrived. It also meant I forgot to grab a picture of the cute bread basket before noshing on my bread. The bread was ok, but nothing to write home about. Since we had such a large group, there was a set menu for dinner and luckily A. and I were seated together so we managed to get different dishes so I could write about it all (bestest friend ever!).
The first course was a choice of a black bean soup and organic mixed green salad finished with a sherry shallot vinaigrette. A. had the soup and thoroughly enjoyed it whereas I had a taste and was glad I got the salad as the black bean gives the soup a chunkier consistency that I don’t really like. Actually I just don’t particularly care for bean soups in general so it was a pass for me, but if you aren’t like me, then this might be right up your alley! I enjoyed my salad and the vinaigrette was delicious and it was a nice mixed green salad (full disclosure – I gave A. the raw tomatoes and left the huge red onion behind).
After a short break in between courses for JP to give his first speech of the night came the entrees. You would think the salad would have helped my hungry hungry hippo feelings, but no – it just made the hippo want more food like right now (rawr?)! We had a choice of three entrees – Beef (Grilled New York Steak, Madagascar green peppercorn cream), Chicken (Grilled breast, sun dried tomato basil sauce) and Salmon (Baked, Shallot herb cream) – no one at our table got the beef so no photo but JP said it was super delicious! I only wish I could say the same for my salmon…
Unfortunately, my salmon was quite salty and part of it might have been due to the sauce, which I did not consume and I ended up scraping the top layer of my salmon in hopes of removing some of the salt. The fish was cooked perfectly and the bottom half was pretty tasty, but the heavy hand with the salt did diminish my enjoyment of the dish a bit. The sides were ok although the clove flavor on what I think is a red cabbage slaw (the purple pile under the asparagus) was very strong and not to my taste, so I left it behind. A. thought her chicken was not bad and could have been a little more tender but otherwise, she enjoyed her entree.
As JP started speech 2 (or maybe 3 or 4?) after the second course, I started singing a little “I want dessert” song because as you might be starting to figure out, dessert is my favorite course ever… The dessert description had me super excited – White and Dark Chocolate Cheesecake rolled in an Oreo Crust and finished with Praline – and I gotta say, I was not disappointed. The cheesecake middle was the best part of the dessert, not too sweet and not too cream cheesy – just a great balance of flavors there. The praline crust was a little crunchy and I had little caramel and nut bits stuck in my teeth but it just reminded me of those candies where you have a hard shell and a soft gooey center. Yum!
Manor Casual Bistro
Monday to Thursday 11:00am – 10:00pm
Friday to Saturday 11:00am – midnight
Sunday 11:00 am – 2:00pm, 5:00pm – 9:00pm
So What Would Argenplath Pay?
JP looked out for his poor graduate student friends’ wallets – if you noticed, the web menu had 5 courses for $45, but he managed to get a 3 course dinner for $35 and once you added in tax and tip, it was closer to $45. A drink would also bump the price up another $10 or so. Overall, I would consider this a fair price for the meal that we had – our server was great and the room was gorgeous so that certainly made the experience that much better. But the point of the dinner isn’t even really about the food but about celebrating JP’s birthday and giving him the opportunity to talk about how amazing his friends are and how much he appreciates them. More importantly, it also meant birthday drinks for JP and a crazy(?) dance party afterwards.
BUT JP’s idea of negotiating less courses for a lower price was great and a good reminder that just because a restaurant has a large and expensive set menu, it doesn’t mean that you can’t talk to them about finding a middle ground that works for everyone.
Happy Birthday JP!
May the next 25 years of your life be just as awesome as the first 25!