Thursday nights are kind of when my weekends begin; I so often work Sunday’s and Saturday’s, too. We had made it a date that we would go for dinner, and we decided a place, then greeted by the hostess, sat, reviewed menus and wine list and were ready to place our orders. The waitress proofed us, and Mark, with a full beard, age: 32, forgot his I.D.’s, thus we were denied the wine. We weren’t going to stand for enjoying a beautiful veal chop with no wine to accompany it. We decided to leave after the manager came over and told us they would not serve anyone without proper identification. Disappointment set it and crescendo-ed into frustration as we walked to the car. We were now ‘hangry.’ and ‘thirstrated’. Hangry is when you are so hungry that you actually become angry. Thirstrated is when you are ready to relax with a nice adult beverage and some other force out of your control puts a hiccup in those plans. 2 adults hangry and thirstrated in a dark parking lot after 8pm, you can imagine how difficult it was to agree what to do next. This was a date-night-fail. We got in the car and totally unsure where to go or what to do next… (Why is it all the time in this town, I make a mental note to “try that place”, and when it comes time to “try that place” I can’t think of the place I wanted to try!? Is there an app for that?)
A moment of clarity and calmness came over Mark and he was able to pull the trigger: ”Little Italy! We are going to Francesca’s.” “Perfect.” I was in agreement.
Not only was I politely greeted, but the bartender offered me up a drink immediately
followed by a genuine compliment on my dress. (We are off to an ideal start.) Thirstration- gone. The hostess got our table ready and she complimented my bag as she sat us at our candlelight table for 2.
Patrick O’Brien– probably the best server I’ve ever had. He was fantastic and smart. He greeted us, took our wine order with no questions asked. In fact, he began to tell us about a wine store on Pearl St., Vinomania, one of my favorite spots in Syracuse, and we were now on common grounds with common friends. Wine was poured as he recited the incredible featured items of the evening. Scallops, risotto, authentic calamari salad, parrot fish, mahi-mahi, layered eggplant side… Culinary poetry was flying from his tongue so effortlessly that I was expecting him to take a bow at the finish. After his performance, I had to tell him what had happened to us just 15 minutes ago. He laughed and shared a similar story about the same restaurant involving Guy Fieri’s visit to Syracuse a few weeks ago, and how he had ended up leaving frustrated, too! Mark & I meditated on the menu and decided.
We opted for the 2 giant sea scallops over almond risotto with fresh pea shoots, and apple slices and a beet reduction sauce to start. Best. Risotto. Ever. It was cooked so perfectly, exact crunch you would expect from a 5 star restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen. Slivered almonds tasted toasty and subtle, the scallops had a perfectly seared exterior and when you bit into it, the inside was so succulent and perfectly tasty. For dinner, we had the surf & turf special: 14 oz NY Strip, aged 30 days in-house accompanied by 2 sea scallops, 3 giant shrimp, 2 split grilled lobster tails finished with a sweet-chilli sauce. The steak: cooked perfectly medium rare, scallops were purposefully undercooked, which is what I prefer; delicate & succulent. The split lobster tails were good, shrimp were great. Sides were garlic mashed potatoes & vegetable medley. Between the starter and the entrée, this was a perfect meal for 2. Everything was perfect, perfect, perfect. We finished our bottle of 7 Deadly Zin’s and chatted more with Patrick. He gave us the grand tour of the outdoor seating area and helped us visualize how a rehearsal dinner or 100 person wedding could be set up back there, knowing Mark and I are recently engaged.
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