Monday, May 26, 2008
Maybe not as bad as Stone Cold, but doesn't that title sound better than just Cold Sober at 3 Drunken Goats? Anyway, before I really get into my dining experience at this new tapas restaurant in Montrose, I want to mention that my visit was during a soft opening, which basically meant that there were still kinks being worked out before this eatery could find its footing. So even though my thoughts on 3 Drunken Goats may not be overwhelmingly positive, that doesn't mean that a later visit would not yield a meal more worthy of praise.
On that note, I'll go ahead and start. When my friend first told me about a restaurant called 3 Drunken Goats, I actually laughed because I didn't believe that was the actual name of the restaurant, but after Googling it later on, I saw that I shouldn't have doubted her even for a second; however, I really didn't find out where that restaurant name came from until I read a recent Yelp review. Basically, the "3" refers to Chef Jason Micheaud from Cobras and Matadors, Owner Brandon Kim and General Manager, Daniel Sevilla. "Drunken Goats" is an artisan goat's milk cheese from Jumilla, Spain that gets its irresistible name from its seventy-two hour soak in Doble Pasta wine before being aged for a couple of months. So there you have it, the mystery of the unusual restaurant name solved.
Walking into the restaurant, I really liked the dark brown color palette. To my right was a small wine retail area and to my left was the bar. In front of me was the main dining room and to the back, the kitchen was open to anyone who wanted to take a look at the action. It wasn't very full so we were seated really quickly. The first thing we noticed was the glass candle holder which was a bit spotty. It's not a big deal by any means, but I would think presentation is important, even when it comes to candle holders Then my friend was given a water glass with lipstick on it. Granted, when she told our waiter, he did replace it with a new glass, but what stuck in my head was if a glass with a lipstick stain was able to get out of the kitchen on a night when only a quarter of the restaurant was full, what happens when it's packed to the gills? Something to think about.
Finally, we placed our order of 7 different tapas. While we were waiting for our first course, we somehow got a sampling of the corn chowder. Unfortunately, it was a bit lukewarm and it also wasn't that flavorful. We were hoping that it wasn't an omen of things to come.
Then our first dish arrived, but before we even really got a chance to sample it, the other 6 dishes arrived in quick succession, both cold and hot items. What the heck??? Generally, tapas are something that should be paced: cold before hot and arriving at the table one by one allowing for some time between the courses. I looked around expecting to see a huge crowd anxiously waiting to be seated. Why else would they give us everything at once, if not to hurry us along to accommodate all these starving people. But no, the restaurant was still fairly empty. I just didn't get it. Well, all the food was before us so we just dug in.
While eating our way through the 7 dishes we ordered, I didn't find anything spectacular about any of them or I may have liked some of them better if not for a component of the dish that didn't work for me. For example, there was the Belgian Endive with Grilled Radicchio, Almonds and Apples. Belgian Endive can be a bit bitter and pairing it with radicchio, also a bitter leaf vegetable just didn't work at all. However, the sweetness of the apple and the nuttiness of the almonds were the perfect counterpart for the Belgium endive and was a much more successful combination.
Then there was the Mussels with Chorizo, Protocolo Wine and Fingerling Potatoes, which I found to be a little salty, both the broth and the mussels themselves. I don't think I've ever had salty mussels before. I found out later that there were two types of chorizo in this dish, one that was more on the sweet side and the other which wasn't as sweet. Definitely, more of the former and less of the latter would have made a tastier dish.
The Braised Pork Shank with Onion Confit could have easily been one of two possible favorite dishes of the evening. The meat was meltingly tender, but it didn't have much flavor. Also the bread it was sitting on became mushy because the dish was sitting there for awhile before we got to it; whereas, if it had been properly coursed out, the bread still would have been crispy.
As for the other dish which would have been a home run, the Pan Roasted Striped Bass with Fennel Two Ways had a lot going for it. First, there was lots of oomph to the palate that was missing in the pork shank. The fish meat was tasty and I also enjoyed the two different fennel presentations; however, while I totally loved how the fish skin was left on and enjoyed its crispiness, the skin was also a bit salty.
I do have to say that my dining partner absolutely loved the Bacon Wrapped Dates with Chorizo. For me, it's a preference thing. I like the smaller, less meaty dates and I found these dates to be too big and a little mushy, but at least, out of the 7 we had, there was at least one dish that someone found perfection in.
When all was said and done, I was pretty disappointed in my overall meal and although I knew that this was a soft opening for 3 Drunken Goats, I wasn't sure if I wanted to make a return visit. However, two things changed my mind. First, let's talk desserts. We shared two, the Queen Nut Cake and Housemade Churros. The Queen Nut Cake had great flavors, nutty and with a hint of citrus from the zest mixed into the batter, but was a bit dry; however, the addition of some chocolate sauce that came with our Churros on top of the cake made a wonderfully tasty difference.
As for the churros, wow, they were some of the best I've ever had: light, crispy and just the right amount of sugar for sweetness, but not to the nth degree. Honestly, the churros were so good on their own, the chocolate sauce was just an after thought.
Second, as we were walking out of the restaurant, we ran into the Chef Micheaud and Owner, Brandon Kim taking a break. Earlier, we had mentioned to Brandon about the spotty candle holder, the lipstick on the water glass and also that the coursing of the meal was way off, all of which he took in stride.
When asked what we thought of our meal, my friend and I didn't hold anything back. What was cool is that Chef Micheaud really listened and even talked through adjustments he could make to improve some of the dishes For example, he mentioned adding more sweet chorizo to help lessen the saltiness of the Mussels dish. He talked about creating some kind of citrus sauce to top the Queen Nut Cake with that will complement the orange zest already in the cake plus give it some moisture.
Now I don't know if any of these things he mentioned were actually implemented since I haven't made gone back yet, but I really appreciated Chef Micheaud's willingness to take our critique seriously and without any type of prima donna attitude. I think that's really admirable and speaks well of Chef Micheaud. Although I wasn't very satisifed with the food, the to die for housemade churros and a Chef who's willing to listen to his patrons is definitely worth a return visit to this very memorably named restaurant. After all, how can you resist a restaurant called 3 Drunken Goats?
3 Drunken Goats
2256 Honolulu Ave
Montrose, CA 91020