dining niblets: familiar faces, new places edition

You’ve probably already heard the news that Café Zenon (Zenon Café?  I can never remember) is reopening under the ownership of Ibrahim Hamide, the erstwhile owner of Café Soriah.  I was a little touched when I saw him on tv yesterday, promising to respect the traditions of this Eugene institution, even though I’m generally grumpy about the small pool of ownership among Eugene restaurateurs.  Hey, I have a soft spot for that kind of community spirit.  It rocks.

Another familiar face, Adam of his Place, has been operating Adam’s Sustainable Table for almost a month now.  We went and it wasn’t bad.  Adam mixed me a Sazerac with a icewater chaser, which was cool, explaining it was new on the menu and promising the second one would be better.  And it was.  I loved the simple herb “flower” arrangement on the table.  I think it was made of carrot tops.  That was a sweet gesture.  The food was perfectly serviceable and I didn’t have any negative experiences like some friends did when they visited.  Fried squid, a fish special, lamb stew with paparadelle, chocolate molten cake, if I recall.  I guess I was hoping for some new oomph to the menu, eye-opening combinations or something that screamed green.  Ah well.  What I ate was fine; I don’t want to be too negative.

In case you wondered about the review in Chow!, Black Rabbit Bistro is now called The Rabbit Bistro, but everyone still calls them Black Rabbit.  I still haven’t been, and have heard grumpy stories about the service and substitutions policy that make me not want to go.  Chillax, bunny.  We want to pet you, but you’re making it hard.

If you miss Morgenthaler, check him out all fancy and stuff, making a cocktail video for Imbibe Magazine.   I seriously wanted that damn Manhattan, even though I was watching the video at, like, 7 am.  Stirred, not shaken, indeed.

Speaking of which, it’s quittin’ time.  And that means I have an hour to relax before getting back to work, yay.

6 thoughts on “dining niblets: familiar faces, new places edition

  1. Eric 20 March 2009 / 7:07 pm

    I had read about snottiness on Yelp but our waitperson was just right, in fact I was almost disappointed there was no attitude given all of the stories I’ve read. The soup of the day was delightful, a carrot expresso stout. Can’t wait for the carrots in the garden to grow up and meet a fine stout. Execution great as rare was rare and they know how to braise and season appropriately. My companion had the burger and you’d have to be a nitwit to want ketchup on it as it’d cover the garlicy goodness of the mayo. If it’s such a big deal people can sneak in a packet from the nearby McDonald’s. Nice price to portion ratio too like Belly. I’m a fan and intend to return soon.

    Not sure if you’ve gotten your reports via Yelp! (probably other sources too I’m guessing), but if you click thru so many reviewers are low budget college kids with little life experience. Then there are the yahoos…Maybe we got lucky, maybe they’ve shaped up after hearing about their rep, or perhaps the customers were the ones with a an attitude problem. They’re breaking out the spring menu next week so I reckon we’ll return real soon.

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  2. Eugenia 20 March 2009 / 8:12 pm

    Eric: You’re right about Yelp; the reviews aren’t very trustworthy. One of the reasons I started this blog was to review restaurants from the perspective of someone who isn’t a college student who has never lived outside of Eugene. BUT. I do hope Rabbit has the attitude problem under control now. I’m too grumpy right now to deal with the Eugene special: passive-aggressive or downright rude service.

    In defense of ketchup, I’m not too proud to say I like it on my burger, and I don’t like mayo (especially not homemade aioli, if that’s what they’re offering) on a burger. Then again, would I get a burger at a French bistro? Probably not. Why have a burger on the menu at all if it’s going to cause the waitstaff and customers grief?

    The substitutions policy is just draconian.

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  3. Eric 21 March 2009 / 12:19 pm

    The burger is probably there for the less adventurous person in a party, or for one who thinks a black truffle is a dessert item or doesn’t want to eat the Easter Bunny. Or for someone who doesn’t want a typical burger. As you know there’s sort of an odd burger renaissance (maybe you’d prefer to call it the Dark Ages) happening lately. It’s also possibly more profitable than other items they could serve. I honestly don’t see what the problem is as they’re upfront about it. Margins being what they are in this tough economy I wouldn’t want to invest in bottles of ketchup if I didn’t have to. ;-)

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  4. Mike Aronson 21 March 2009 / 2:16 pm

    So I can say I like the (Black) Rabbit and they do have a bit of a tude. The food is very solid, at the right price point, and the fries are very good. Think of the burger, which is very Father’s Office style, as Eugene style steak frites and you’ll be fine. I’m not sure where the attitude comes from, less bitchy then just a bit cold, but they should take a lesson from the folks at Belly, who are equally hip and cook them under the table, but couldn’t be warmer to regulars and first-timers alike. I’m perfectly fine with Mayo being the default condiment, but come on, you’re located in a strip mall, if someone asks, Heinz should be available.

    BTW, I like the open-faced duck rillettes sandwich, with fries of course.

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  5. Molly 23 March 2009 / 4:06 pm

    I’m not sure if anyone knows if it’s Zenon Café or Café Zenon. I once called to ask, and the person on the other end told me to go by whatever was in the phone book; she wasn’t sure either. But I think CZ is more common…

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  6. Andrea 6 June 2009 / 11:11 am

    Oh,Eric..don’t you hate those darn “low budget college students” visiting restaurants?How dare they eat and have opinions about it after being on earth for only twenty two years. So if we’re under 30 our tongues don’t work?
    I love this blog and hope others can make an attempt not to lump us all into the category..a little unfair, wouldn’t you say? I’m not from Eugene, but I’ve had fun exploring the culinary world even though I’ve definitely come across that attitude at a few restaurants (MARCHE).
    And, I’ve been to The Rabbit, loved the food,service, ambiance, and their lack of ketchup. If you want standard condiments, go to Mcmennimans. The Rabbit is just trying to be creative with there menu, that’s all.

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