Truluck's and Uchi report
We visited two restaurants this weekend.
Last night, around 9:00, we decided to go out to eat. I checked around on Opentable.com to see what restaurants were still open late, and Truluck's in the Arboretum area (although not in the darned Arboretum) was listed, so we decided to try it. This was the first time I booked anything through that website, and it went very well.
Truluck's was a joy. The service was excellent - helpful but completely not overbearing. We ordered the Tuna Tartare Tower (which is just darned fun to say) as an appetizer. Chopped raw tuna, avocado, sprouts, and tomato with a spicy sort of dressing and balsamic vinaigrette. Next was the lobster bisque with sherry. Both starters were fresh and toothsome, although I thought the bisque was a bit undersalted.
For an entree I ordered the stone crab platter. This came with 8 crab claws and a side of mustard sauce, as well as parmesan garlic mashed potatoes (oh so good) and steamed broccoli. I had never had stone crab before, so I was really pleased. The crab was pre-cracked and served over ice. The flesh was slightly sweet and really very nice. I managed to eat half before I got stuffed. Hubby's Flounder Ponchartrain was also very nice, but the stone crab was definitely the standout of the meal.
The bartender also makes a mean dirty Tito's martini.
We definitely plan to haunt Truluck's more often, perhaps even going early in the evening and bringing the kids. (Well-behaved foodie kids, of course.)
After reading some of the stellar reviews here for Uchi, we decided to bite the bullet and stand in line. We got there around 6:30 and were quoted a two hour wait; in fact, we were seated at 7:30, which was a nice surprise.
After near-complete befuddlement at the menu, we decided to go ahead and order the omakase. The waiter stumbled a bit in the description, not sure whether it was 9 or 10 dishes, and not entirely sure what was on it, although he did mention fois gras.
At least three (and maybe four... too much sake) of the dishes were variations on the nuts + sashimi + citrus-infused oil/white soy + golden raisins theme. Not that it wasn't good, but I had hoped for a little more variety. The real standout dishes were the toro nuta, the seared scallops, the duck, and the hangar steak. When I asked about the foie gras, the waiter said they had run out - then I heard the table behind us (who was seated after we were) receive theirs. Dessert was a sort of uninspired chocolate terrine, although the pumpkin sorbet, ginger puree, and chocolate ciggies that accompanied the terrine were all great. My press pot coffee was extremely weak for my tastes, but I'm picky about coffee.
To get to the restrooms, you have to weigh about 80 pounds and be able to squeeze through 4" spaces. The people seated with their backs to the aisle were completely disinclined to pull their seats in. I've had more room squeezing past the drink trolley on an airplane. And the bathroom was dirty. :(
In short, Uchi was technically good, but I felt that they were overpriced ($166 for the omakase for two), considering the lack of variety and miscellaneous slips. Very trendy, the bar is very much a meat-market, very beautiful people. If you're into the scene, you might like it, but strictly for food purposes, you're probably better off elsewhere.
Thanks for the report!
One minor quibble with your report, based on your observations about the restroom.
I've been to Uchi probably thirty times, and on your average trip I go to the bathroom once or twice. The men's restroom at Uchi has historically been one of the cleaner restrooms I've used. I don't doubt that it was suboptimal for your visit, as you report, I just wouldn't want you to think that was the bathroom's default state.
Also, while I'm not absurdly obese, I'm defintely not skinny. Uchi's aisles can get a little jammed, but you might be exaggerating Uchi's density just a little a bit. I have yet to have any trouble making my way to the restrooms, regardless of how packed the place is.
I had a work dinner at the downtown location of Truluck's this past week. They make some fine drinks in the bar, as every place of its ilk should. But once we went to the dining room, things seemed to take on a big chain, commercialized feel. I could have sworn the waitress was reading off a teleprompter. When my colleague asked for some guidance on ordering between a few entrees, she paused, waited for the teleprompter to come up, and read off the entree description from the menu verbatim. It was highly amusing. But I digress, and the poor waitress had no bearing on the food quality, and her service was fine. I had the flounder pontchartrain which came with Truluck's rice, creole sauce and baby gulf shrimp and crawfish tails. Everything was right up the middle okay, nothing great, which makes it not such a good deal at $25. I'm not sure why they trademark their rice when it comes out gluey.
Having said that, I think one can have a fine experience here if you stick with seafood that is very simply prepared. I'm confident that their stuff is fresh, and should be tasty in simple preparations. If I hadn't been on a work dinner, I'd have slurped oysters, and cracked crabs and lobsters instead.
addlepated, the photo you have attached is from this board's estimable poster, yimay, if i'm not mistaken. just as a footnote.
She has some beautiful pictures in her photostream! I hope she doesn't mind my having linked to it. I'd have linked to the Uchi page but they're in Flash (ew).
As far as Truluck's - my husband's flounder Ponchartrain was also okay/good, but didn't match the stone crab at all. Our waiter recommended another kind of rice with it, not the Truluck's rice. And after dinner, the waiter gave us his card and told us to ask for him again. I thought that was a nice sort of touch that I'd expect to see in a venerable French Quarter restaurant.