For our monthly anniversary, Brian and I ventured to Eleventh Street Lounge looking for some good food and drinks in a swanky location. We were disappointed in the setting (it felt like a place to go after you were already drunk – the floors seemed like they’ve been sticky a lot in their history, and the furniture was a little shabby) and the menu (just didn’t seem appetizing once it was in front of us) so we each had a martini and then walked the block to Restaurant 3.
We were led to a half-round booth for two (with room for 4 total with 2 chairs should you venture in with a larger party) in a dark yellow leather. The decor seemed southwestern to me, although I think they were going for Tuscan given the paintings on the walls. Brian felt that the yellow walls and picture lights were too bright for evening. I saw what he meant, but I kinda liked it.
Our waiter let us take our time in deciding what we wanted – which was kind since it was 9:00 p.m. on a Monday night and the menu looked so great we simply couldn’t decide! He was responsive in answering questions, refilling glasses, and making suggestions.
We’ve had Restaurant 3 on our radar since it opened, but we’ve always put it off. No more. The food – and the menu – was fantastic.
There are two types of bread – and two spreaders – in the delicious bread basket. The white bread must have had a cheese in the batter (asiago?) and the smell – and taste – was wonderful. There was also equally good wheat bread that I barely tasted after gorging myself on the white bread. There was both butter and an olive tapenade.
For an appetizer, Brian ordered the fried oysters. The portion was huge – easily shareable by a party of 4 – and really good, battered in cornmeal.
We also each had a salad – Brian the spinach salad (he can’t resist) and I the Caesar. The Parmesan “crisp” in my salad was too thick and a little soggy, but the salad good none the less. I also appreciated that our server waited until I’d taken a bite before approaching me with the (very colorful!) pepper mill. This just so happens to be one of my biggest pet peeves in restaurants: I don’t KNOW if I want pepper until I try a bite first – it may not need it! So kudos to our guy for doing it right! (Brian, by the way, disagrees with me on this and thinks the pepper mill is part of the presentation).
The entrees were also huge. Brian had a beautiful Japanese sea bass with pea risotto and sweet potato “straws.” I had short ribs with collar greens and a macaroni and cheese bake. We only ate a few bites given how stuffed we were on bread, oysters, and salad. However, I had some great leftover lunches during the work week 😉 The fish had a wonderful flash crunch. It was buttery and firm, and actually held up beautifully in the microwave at work! The risotto was great, and the sweet potato straws (which did not hold up so beautifully) really complimented the sea bass. The short rib was presented with the bone detached (but still presented!) and was good, although slightly overdone. The collards were good (although I grew up with better greens – and there was a roasted ladybug in them I discovered during a work meeting while I was eating lunch – oops!) The macaroni (actually a linguine) and cheese bake actually was better on reheating! We also ordered a side of asiago cheese grits that were too heavy on the cheese, although I couldn’t tell you if they improved on reheating because Brian ate them all the next night and didn’t save me any. Hmpf.
We were surprised Restaurant 3 wasn’t packed to the gills given what a great experience it was. Brian said there was no excuse with such a great menu that Restaurant 3 shouldn’t have a wait every night of the week – even 9 p.m. on Mondays.
Best for: A romantic evening out, large parties, dinner with the ‘rents.
Worst for: Someone on a diet who doesn’t want to be tempted by large portions.