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Fine dining with a few kinks

October 09, 2010|By Lisa Dupuy

As a typical restaurant-going consumer who enjoys seeing entrepreneurs succeed, I sometimes want to take new restaurant owners aside and make some suggestions.

Often, they simply don't prioritize correctly. Yes, quality of food is important. But so are an appealing logo and a real sign out front. Deals and incentives to attract customers are a definite plus. But more important is to create an environment that is welcoming and special in some way. While OverTime Bar & Grill does serve a few outstanding dishes, this new restaurant falls prey to some of these problems and more.

Problem No. 1: The chef needs the service to match his or her talents. On our first visit, I took a party of eight. We were one of only three occupied tables that evening, so you would think we'd get exceptional service. We did not. The drinks took forever to come. No bread was offered. And there was a small mistake with our hefty bill that took a shameful amount of time and convincing to have rectified.

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But the food was quite delicious and close to fine-dining quality. The chicken lettuce wraps ($11) are to die for. Copious amounts of cubed chicken, combined with black mushrooms, green onions, corn and celery, come with lettuce cups and two great dipping sauces — peanut and sesame-ginger. The Argentina-style steak ($15) also stood out. The grilled flat-iron steak melts in your mouth, especially with the accompanying excellent chimichurri (herb-garlic-vinegar) sauce and avocado mashed potatoes.

My daughter gobbled up her roasted wild mushroom ravioli ($15). And the Ropa Vieja sandwich, which is a Cuban-style shredded beef braised in a tangy tomato sauce with onions and bell peppers ($11), created quite a stir at the table. Finally, the cappuccino and the coconut flan, with its cheesecake-like richness, were both memorable.

Problem No. 2: There isn't one plant, not one decorative divider, no mood lighting, nothing to create a comforting ambience in this cavernous space measuring maybe 70 by 70 feet. The restaurant used to house a dance club, as evidenced by the wooden dance floor and racks of professional lighting. Why not section that off? And while you're at it, separate the bar from the dining area. As it is it's like eating in an auditorium.

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