Sunday, December 12, 2010

Amp150

Since starting my blog a handful of followers have recommended that I review Amp 150.  This week I found a great deal on Restaurant.com for a discounted $25 gift certificate.  Both of those factors and the fact that my girlfriend and I wanted to have a date night led us to dinner at Amp 150 last night!   

Food--After looking over the menu it was clear that we both wanted to do the Chef's Choice Tasting.  For $30 my girlfriend ordered the 4 course meal and for $45 I ordered the 6 course meal, both were designed by the chef.  We both thought it would be really fun to try this considering the price was very reasonable.  What was also very interesting was not knowing what your next dish was going to be, a playful twist on dining.  Our server did ask if there was anything we truly didn't like too.  This assured my girlfriend (who hates seafood) a seafood free meal!

Our meal started with two small shared courses.  First was a squash soup.  It was made with all natural squash that was pureed and combined with pumpkin oil, and topped with five spice marshmallow.  The soup was smooth and creamy, but not overly thick.  It has a very fresh and natural taste.   The squash and pumpkin flavors really came through.  If this is on the menu when you go we both recommend getting it to start your evening!
The second shared course was chicken liver pate.  Two toasted pieces of bread were topped with cranberry tartar and chicken liver pate.  Crispy toasted bread, creamy chicken liver pate, and the tart cranberries made each bite so unique!  I loved how the chicken liver pate cut the tartness of the cranberries so perfectly.  There was also a smokey flavor from the toasted bread that really made this an earthy and savory dish.
We both agreed that these two starters were excellent and we couldn't wait to see what came out next!

For this part of the review I'll review my girlfriends 4 courses first.  The first course she received was an Edamame Falafel. The crispy chick pea crust and the soft edamame inside flavored with onion, garlic and cumin were simply amazing.  Combined with the watermelon radish, cucumber, and Greek yogurt this dish was out of this world.  This is something that I would have been skeptical about getting, but after tasting this I would order this for myself any day!  My girlfriend absolutely loved this dish too!
Her second course was a Poached Pear and Watercress Salad.  It came topped with candied walnuts, Maytag blue cheese, and a red wine vinaigrette.  The poached pear was seasoned with clove and allspice which really came through on your palate.  She really loved the fresh greens and the vinaigrette dressing.  Both complemented the pears and the sweet candied walnuts.  Again, this dish was a success!

Her third course, her main entree, was the Marinated Flank Steak.  The steak had a citrus/orange taste to the marinade and was very moist and flavorful.  It came with braised spiced carrots, chopped cashews and a cashew butter.   The creamy cashew butter really was a tasty addition to this dish.  It tied the steak, citrus and carrot flavors all together nicely.  However, she did wish this portion size was a little bigger.  For an entree portion the amount of flank steak and the four carrots left her wanting a little more substance on the plate.
Her final course was the Chocolate Mousse Desert.  It was topped with whipped cream and a pomegranate spread.  Inside was a delicious cookie crisp that had almost a toffee flavor to it.  The chocolate mousse was creamy and flavorful. The pomegranate seeds added a juicy crunch to the plate too.   We both liked the desert but were not crazy about the pomegranate spread on top.
Overall, my girlfriend enjoyed her entire meal.  Her  favorite dishes of the night were the Edamame Falafel and the Squash Soup.

My 6 course meal started out with Seared Scallops in a German style potato salad all topped with a horseradish foam.  The scallops were seared perfectly and paired well with the soft potatoes.  I also was very fond of the horseradish foam that added a bit of airiness to the plate.  I couldn't stop eating this dish and I wish there would have been a few more scallops, it came with two,  because this dish was flavorful and creative.
My second course was a Spatzle and Duck Confit.   It came topped with capers, golden raisins, and chives.  The dish had so much going on independently, yet when put together in one bite it was pure perfection on a fork!  Moist, salty, soft, crispy, sweet...all of these flavors combined to really make "The Perfect Bite."   The duck was moist and tender, and had a crispy skin that again played to the different textures in the dish.  I would have had no problems eating a larger portion of this as my main entree.  I had to fight just to keep my girlfriend's fork out of my dish it was so good!
My third course was a Pumpkin and Panzanella salad.   The salad came with fresh arugula, pumpkin brioche, roasted pumpkin,  fresh crispy apples, roasted pumpkin seeds, croutons, and thinly sliced Parmesan cheese.  This salad had a very earthy and nutty taste to it which went well with the apple cider that was used to dress the salad. The slightly more peppery taste of the arugula was also a smart choice because it added to the earthiness of the dish.   I loved how the pumpkin was featured in this dish in three ways. I felt like this was a dish on Iron Chef where Pumpkin was the secret ingredient.  This was a well thought out and well put together salad!
My fourth course was lightly breaded Cod over freshly made Clam Chowder.  The clam chowder was very creamy/velvety and came with fingerling potatoes, chives, and chorizo. The chorizo was an excellent addition to this dish because it added a slight smokey and spicy element.   The light cracker crust on the soft and flaky cod was excellent by itself, but combined with the flavorful clam chowder, it took this dish from being good to being great. 
My fifth course, my entree, was the braised lamb.  It came with red wine cabbage, and a carrot/raisin type slaw.  The red wine cabbage was good, but didn't have a lot of flavor to it.  I didn't care for the carrot slaw, the texture and vinegar/sour cream type flavors just are not my thing.  That being said the lamb itself was very good.  There was a large bone in the middle of the lamb and the lamb simply just fell right off the bone it was so tender.  The lamb retained some of its gaminess, but it didn't overpower the meat.  Also, the fatty nature of the meat around the bone was just right...not too much and not too little!  With different sides I think I would have loved this dish...but compared to the first five it was my least favorite.

My final dish was a Parsnip Cake....Yes I said Parsnip and Cake!!  When I think of desert I don't ever think of parsnip, so I had a very open mind while eating this.  The cake had a cream cheese filling, ginger glaze and came with a curry sauce and a candid parsnip chip.  The cake was moist and flavorful and didn't overly taste like parsnip.  It had a sweetness to it that was only enhanced by the ginger glaze and the candied parsnip.   Was this my favorite desert ever...No...but I would recommend it!  This dish again reminded me of something you might see on Iron Chef where the secret ingredient is parsnip.  To use an ingredient like parsnip in such a different way than most would think of I thought was very clever!
My two favorite dishes were the Spatzle and Duck Confit, and the Cod and Clam Chowder.  

Overall I have go give a thumbs up to Amp 150's food.  It is creative, flavorful and plated/presented very nicely.  "From Farm to Plate" is their motto and I applaud their use of fresh local ingredients.  You can really tell the difference in the taste.  Food wise I give Amp 150 a 4.5/5.

Drinks--Amp 150 features a large wine selection and a fairly large list of bottled craftbeers.  Their draft selection is limited though, they only had four beers on draft.  They also offered seasonal mixed drinks such at martinis and mojitos.  My girlfriend had two glasses of red wine, one a Red Zinfandel and the other a Chianti, which were each priced at $8.   I had a Stone Ruination IPA and a Stone Oaked Aged Arrogant Bastard Ale (both priced between $6-$8 for a 12oz bottle.) If you love wine, mixed drinks or craftbeer you are sure to find something you will like at Amp 150.  Check out my Craftbeer Review Page for more information on craftbeers.   Drinks wise I give Amp 150 a 4.5/5.

Overall--Upon walking in the door we were kindly greeted, our reservation was confirmed, and we were immediately taken to our seats.  Once seated, my girlfriend noticed they had some really unique/private booths and she asked if they were reserved.   Without hesitation our server checked and we were allowed to sit at the booth and still retain our Stephanie as our server.   Stephanie also pointed out that next time we can make a request for the booth when we make our reservations--We use Open Table as much as possible!  The atmosphere of the restaurant is very modern and hip.  It would be a great place for a romantic dinner, a business outing, or a night out with your friends.   Our server Stephanie was great the entire evening!  She explained each dish in detail and had a real knowledge of the menu.   We couldn't have asked for better service!  Upon completing our meal Chef Ellis came out to say hello.  He explained a little further the restaurants vision and passion for using fresh and local ingredients.   He also explained how the menu is constantly changing and evolving on a monthly basis.  This is a great touch because you always have new options to try when you dine at Amp 150.   Overall, with amazing service, a great atmosphere, and reasonably priced food Amp 150 gets a 5/5!  We both look forward to going back to see what Chef Ellis comes up with next!
Amp 150 on Urbanspoon

2 comments:

Alicia at Poise in Parma said...

I am so happy you had a great time at AMP 150. I've eaten there several times now, but haven't done the tasting menu. After your experience, I will be trying it soon! You also had one of my favorite servers - Stephanie is outstanding.

Brewer's Daughter said...

Great descriptions of the food--the tasting menu is so much fun! Looks like I have to go back and try some more dishes!

BTW, Chef Ellis told us he supervises the entire menu, even the room service if you stay at the hotel. How much fun would it be to stay overnight and then have his Southern roots influenced chicken and waffles for brunch!

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