Birthday Meals

Yesterday was my birthday (yeaaaay!), and while I’m having the main celebration Saturday (and I’ll write more about the food for that in my next posting), Mike was nice enough to take me out for lunch and dinner yesterday. We did, however, go to San Leandro favorites (sort of) rather than all the way out of the city.
For lunch we went to Paradiso and for dinner to Horatio’s
Lunch was very disappointing, all the more so because Paradiso is supposed to be the best restaurant in town and because I’ve had a couple of good lunches there lately (if you go, order the filetes mignonettes, those are very good). I ordered a dish of penne with mushrooms and filet mignon slices in a Marsala creme sauce (doesn’t that sound good?). Alas, it wasn’t that great. The flavor of the sauce was just too mild, and the beef needed some salt to bring its own flavor forward. It wasn’t bad, but not $15-good. Mike had the scallops, and he thought they were fine, but the portion was too small to fill him up. The OK fries didn’t help much. He ended up eating some of my lunch. I don’t think either of us were inordinately hungry. Service was blah, even though there seemed to be a dozen people working that day. Our waiter never came to check on us after our food was served, and the bill was just brought after we were done with our entrees, without asking if we wanted something else. Lunch came up to somewhere over $40 before tip, definitely not worth it. Still, Paradiso does a brisk lunch business, though choices for nice lunch places in town are very limited.
Dinner was something different. Once again, we had Horaio’s delicious foccacia bread with garlic butter (I think that’s what they serve, at least), followed by the warm brie with macademia nut crust ($11). We’ve had this before and it’s delicious, in particular with the apple and the balsamic vinegar. I only wish they served more than 3 small slices of apple and a drizzle of vinegar. Still, it’s something I’ll keep ordering.
As our entrees, I had the Hawaiian baby back ribs ($19), which were quite nice though nothing special as far as baby back ribs go. The meat did fall completely off the bone, though, which Mike particularly liked. It came with sweet potato fries, I think I’d have liked regular fries better, these ones had a very mild taste.
Mike thought his crab stuffed sole was delicious, albeit a tiny bit in the salty side. He couldn’t taste the crab, however, though that didn’t seem to deter from the dish. He’d order it again.
For dessert I had the chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream, which is pretty much what I always order, and I liked it a lot.
Service was very good, I got a window table just as I requested on my reservation – though we had to wait a little bit for it. Our waitress was jovial and cordial, and kept an eye on our needs. All in all we had a great time – made better by the fact that I got a $20 off coupon, as it was my birthday. It really pays to join their club.

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