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Dinner at Giovanni's in Detroit

berkleygary Jul 28, 2010 09:18 PM

Dinner at Giovanni's in Detroit tonight. It was wonderful, but...

I had the ravioli with boursin cheese and sun-dried tomatoes in a champagne cream sauce with crab. The sauce and crab were extraordinary, the sauce carrying the crab to an intense level, as good as these items get. Call it a crab-champagne-cream sauce. Alas, the pasta kind of disappeared in the sauce - I did not even really taste the cheese and tomato. The disappointment is that Giovanni's generally offers great pasta, but I didn't really get to enjoy it. The green salad with honey vinaigrette was just darn exciting. The vinegar and honey danced an energetic tango in my mouth. I loved it.

The other diners: I would not have guessed that seared salmon in tomato sauce would work. It worked. It worked, worked, worked. The veal in caper and lemon sauce was superb, the veal being perfectly cooked. I did not taste the perch in capers and lemon, but two of our party loved it. As always, the risotto was lovely, silky and flavorful.

What else? Um, the waitress was nice, enthusiastic, cheerful, attentive. She wasn't very experienced here and it showed.

I was pleased to a decent crowd on a Wednesday night - one nearly full service. I worry about Giovanni's - the owners are aging and Detroit's economy hurts them as much, I suspect, as their industrial location. I hope they survive.

Don't get me wrong - Giovanni's is always a treat. But, for the first time in a long time, it wasn't perfect. We'll be back.

Giovanni's is at 300 Oakwood, Detroit, down the street from the Marathon refinery. The neighborhood is not the best, so use the valet parking ($5, plus tip.)

  1. b
    boagman Jul 28, 2010 10:34 PM

    So, aside from the inexperienced (but still eager-to-please) server, the only real problem was that the wonderful pasta's taste was a bit overshadowed by the taste and flavors of the sauce and ingredients inside your ravioli? Seriously: you should have just said something to them about it, and I guarantee you that they'd have brought you some pasta on the side so that you could enjoy it, too. To me, your evening sounds like the definition of perfect. Or is there something I'm still missing?

    11 Replies
    1. re: boagman
      vtombrown Jul 29, 2010 09:18 AM

      Boursin cheese and crab champagne sauce seems like a bit of a stretch for a traditional (granted, upscale) home cooking Italian place.

      Boagman--how come you called me a big sissy for getting valet, but you let berkleygary off the hook??

      1. re: vtombrown
        boagman Jul 29, 2010 12:57 PM

        Fair's fair, VTB: *anyone* who uses unforced valet (and sometimes even then!) is a big old sissy.

        Part of this is due to me being frugal, which I am. Can't stand paying for something that I can easily, conveniently, and freely do myself. The *bigger* part of this, though, is that I was once a valet myself, back in the college days, so I know what goes on behind the scenes with valet parking, and I'll be darned if I'm going to voluntarily *pay* some thug to drive my vehicle, possibly damage it, lose my keys, steal its contents, take it for a joy ride, etc. There's practically no upside to valet for the customer, except for a very small amount of convenience.

        Valet's for sissies, and *forced* valet just bugs me to no end.

        1. re: boagman
          vtombrown Jul 29, 2010 03:48 PM

          Okay. :-) But, once you have kids and diaper bags....

          1. re: vtombrown
            boagman Jul 30, 2010 12:55 AM

            Dear merciful sweet heavens, VTB...what horrible, nasty thing have I ever done to *you* to have you wish such a curse on me?

            Ugh...just the very *idea* turns my stomach.

            1. re: boagman
              JanPrimus Jul 30, 2010 03:24 PM

              Hey Boagman...

              Happy Birthday to you....Happy Birthday to you....

              You look like a Monkey and smell like one too.


              Sorry...my daughter taught me that one.

              Have a great dinner tonight!

              1. re: JanPrimus
                boagman Jul 30, 2010 05:40 PM

                Thank you, JP. Actually, my dinner rather sucked (turkey club at Woody's in Royal Oak...but it wasn't my choice of venue, of course), but the company was cool. My lunch at Noble Fish with Donna, though...that was really good, as it always is.

                Noble Fish
                45 E 14 Mile Rd, Clawson, MI 48017

          2. re: boagman
            rainsux Jul 30, 2010 03:45 PM

            > I was once a valet myself ... I know what goes on behind the scenes ... I'll be
            > darned if I'm going to voluntarily *pay* some thug to ... take it for a joy ride

            Did you ever wrangle cars at Big Rock? (Taps foot ... still hoping to find the

            1. re: rainsux
              JanPrimus Jul 30, 2010 04:08 PM

              I used to valet when I was younger too....Roostertail and private parties.

              BTW Boagman....you share a birthday with Alton Brown, better than Jim Neighbors who I share a birthday with. The wisest thing he ever said was “I really never watched myself on TV. Now I know why.”

              Although Doc Ellis did pitch a no hitter against the San Diego Padres while twisted out on Acid on the day I was born.

              1. re: JanPrimus
                boagman Jul 30, 2010 05:43 PM

                I had *no* idea who Alton Brown was...I had to actually look that up, and now I feel like I've wasted 45 seconds of my life that I'll never get back. ;)

              2. re: rainsux
                boagman Jul 30, 2010 05:41 PM

                Nope. Most of my valet stuff was at a local golf course IIRC, and then there was the valet work for Planet Hollywood in Chicago...and *that's* where I could *really* tell you some stories from. Holy stinking cow.

                *Never* valet your vehicle, if you can possibly help it.

                1. re: boagman
                  JanPrimus Jul 30, 2010 05:47 PM

                  I fully endorse this. The better the car...the more likely it will suffer. No one is interested in what a Ford Taurus can do. D...I know they would play with yours.

                  Best car I ever drove was a 700HP Saleen...

                  Funniest thing was the Rolls that had some Grey Poupon in it.

                  I also remember all of the White Castle burger boxes on the floor mats of the Roostertails Chef. Benz 500 SEL.

        2. c
          cfisch Aug 2, 2010 09:04 AM

          I had dinner at Giovoni's in early July. Used to live in Detroit and it was my favorite! I was very disappointed. Pasta was mediocre at best and the veal I've had better at Carabba's heaven forbid! Wish I would have gone to Roma Cafe!

          3 Replies
          1. re: cfisch
            boagman Aug 3, 2010 04:54 PM

            That's the first such comment I've ever seen on Giovanni's. It's extremely uncommon.

            1. re: boagman
              cfisch Aug 4, 2010 10:51 AM

              I'm hoping it was just an off night. Fran was there, Son was out of the kitchen with friends at a table. So maybe that was the reason. I've been thwere maybe 20-30 times over the years and this was a first.

              1. re: cfisch
                boagman Aug 4, 2010 06:26 PM

                Well, then, I'll bow to the more experienced diner. You've been there more than I have, and maybe they did, indeed, have an off night. I'm still just a-stinking-mazed that the pasta was sub-par (for them), but if you've been there that many times, you've got the drop on me when it comes to the level of expectation you should have when going there.

                That being said, you should have said something to Fran on your way out the door. She would definitely have wanted to hear that, I would think.

                Sorry your experience wasn't up to your expectations. For what it's worth, I've yet to have any sort of bad experience there, but I'm nowhere *near* 20-30 times. When I've been someplace that many times, and they drop the ball once, I can usually chalk it up to it being an off night. Perhaps that's just what happened.

                I hope you'll give them another chance.

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