Saturday, January 10, 2009

Mother's Bistro: In bed with the Salt Barons

We ate at Mother's tonight and I have to say, their food is slipping. The underlying flavors, combinations and presentation were all still great, but what is with all the salt? Roast chicken shouldn't taste alternately salty and bland. If I managed to get two or three "bland" bites in a row, my sense of taste returned and it was really delicious. But then I'd get a salty bite, zotz my tastebuds and taste nothing again. Additionally, their cauliflower cheese was pretty awful. I don't know what cheese they were using... It was white but it wasn't white cheddar, swiss, fontina, provalone, parmesan, gruyere, havarti... at least not that I could discern. It wasn't good, that's what's important. But the underlying ability was there: the califlower was perfectly cooked, tender without being limp, crisp without being raw. The chicken was moist and juicy, the skin just crisp without being fried. But in the end, I just ended up feeling totally bloated, tired and over-full.

Dad didn't like his pot roast. I thought it was okay, but whoever did the sauce had a heavy hand with the wine. If that's not what you're expecting, then it's no good. It was also very salty, although Dad disagreed. We might have a different perspective on salt, though. I believe in lightly seasoning each layer of food as I'm cooking - just enough to bring out the flavor, but not enough to be noticable. Most salted food should have a savory flavor, not a strongly salty flavor. If I roast a chicken, I want you to be able to taste chicken, lemon, thyme, rosemary, onion, garlic... But I don't want you to think, "Is a pint of water really going to be enough? Why doesn't she bring that carafe over here so I can drink straight from it."

The worst part is that I'm a chicken shit. When the chef (or one of the cooks - I didn't notice an appellation on her white jacket) came to the table to ask how everything was, I just smiled and said, "Oh, great!" I really like the ambiance, the introductory rolls and breads are delicious, the staff are great... (In particular, our waiter was super.) I just don't have it in me to be honest and risk making everyone uncomfortable by lodging a complaint when everyone's had such a nice evening.

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