Restaurant Week 2016 In Review

Ah, Green Bay Restaurant Week. The time when some of the area's best restaurants offer tasting menus and feature some of their most popular or innovative dishes at a discounted price. Venues offer up to three menus: $10 lunch, $20 dinner, or $30 dinner. I saved up my pennies to dine out a bunch for this event, and boy did I have some fantastic meals. Here's the skinny (although now I'm not feeling too skinny!) on how this year's Green Bay Restaurant Week went down in my book:

1. Waseda Farms--$10 lunch
Items selected: Marinated tomatoes with feta cheese, one pulled pork taco with apple slaw, and a chocolate chip cookie

Impression: The marinated tomatoes and taco both had great flavor. The apple slaw was perfect with the pulled pork, although the pork was a little dry. For the price, I don't think the size was adequate. However, taking into consideration the fact that Waseda Farms serves organic produce and meats from a local provider, therefore the price will be a bit higher, the value was probably par for the quality. The chocolate chip cookie wasn't anything special, I would have opted for a different dessert.

Overall rating: 3 out of 5

2. Little Tokyo--$30 dinner
Ok, confession time. I went to Little Tokyo with the intention of ordering off of the $30 dinner menu, but I ended up ordering three rolls that had me drooling as soon as I read the descriptions. Of the three, the Autumn roll was my absolute favorite. This tasty morsel has tempura shrimp, tuna, cucumber, and spicy sauce with tobiko--to DIE for! Cory was an excellent server, knew the menu inside and out, and had great suggestions for rolls. I had good intentions to order off the Restaurant Week menu, but my extreme sushi love got the best of me. #noregrets

Overall rating: 4.25 out of 5

3. St. Brendan's--$30 dinner
Items selected: Bacon and white pudding bruschetta, herbed rack of lamb, and summer fruit crisp

Impression: The bruschetta was a great little appetizer, served as three crostinis with Irish sausage, bacon, and white cheese. The flavors were great and not overly salty, something to be wary of when pairing high sodium meats and cheese. The rack of lamb was just slightly overdone, but had great flavor. There were four pieces in the rack of lamb, which given the price of lamb and the great deal we were already getting for Restaurant Week, made the portion even better. The summer fruit crisp was tart and slightly sweet with a bit of crunch. I wish there had been a touch more crisp in the dessert. I do have to admit, I was one of those jerks that orders ten minutes before the kitchen closes, so I'm incredibly thankful the chef took his time to make these quality pieces for me late on a Sunday night! Alicia behind the bar was fantastic and is always up for chatting about craft beers and great music, ask her about Volbeat the next time you're in ;)

Rating: 4.25 out of 5

4. Vintage Cantina--$10 lunch
Items selected: Vintage sweet corn, Pastor taco, BBQ taco, Vintage sundae

Impression: The sweet corn was awesome; freshly made with a chipotle butter, it brought to mind the best flavors of summer. The Pastor taco had a bed of pulled pork topped with onions, tomatoes, pineapple, and cilantro. It could have used a bit more pineapple to give it some more flavor, but the pork was juicy and in good amount. For the BBQ taco, imagine a BBQ pulled pork sandwich, take away the bun, and put it all in a tortilla. The Dr. Pepper BBQ had a zippy-sweet quality to it, but the cheddar cheese balanced it nicely. I thought that the last time I was at Vintage, the tacos were served on corn tortillas, which I LOVED. When I was there during Restaurant Week, the tacos were served on flour tortillas. Perhaps that was to accommodate the $10 lunch menu, but I hope they switch back to the corn! The Vintage sundae was a delicious bowl of salted caramel gelato, cocoa nibs, orange zest, agave syrup, and a shot of tequila. The gelato could have been a little creamier, but the cocoa nibs, orange zest, and agave syrup made up in flavor was the gelato lacked in consistency. I don't know if the shot of tequila was supposed to be served on the side, or if it was poured on top of the sundae, but I didn't get any tequila flavor. It was still refreshing on a warm afternoon! 

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

5. Hinterland--$30 dinner
Items selected: King salmon poke, Pork loin with pork belly and cheddar grits, honey greek yogurt panna cotta 

Impression: The King salmon poke was everything I hoped it would be. The raw salmon was extremely fresh and flavorful with minimal "fishy-ness". I typically don't enjoy peanut sauce or flavor in anything but desserts, just a personal preference, but the sauce was minimal and in good taste. I've always enjoyed the Asian flare Hinterland spins on some of their dishes, and the poke was a great representation of their chef's abilities. The pork entree was a classic Southern style dish, pork loin and pork belly with cheddar grits and fried onions. The loin itself was slightly overcooked, but the pork belly was phenomenal. The grits were the perfect consistency, and the fried onions and broccolini provided great texture contrast. The panna cotta was one of the best I've ever had; perfectly creamy, just enough substance, and a great lemon curd made this a wonderfully refreshing treat. My server Christina paired the dessert with an espresso vodka that was out of this world, and rounded out the meal perfectly.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 (service was a 6 out of 5!)

Just like the years before, I wish I had time to visit more establishments during Green Bay Restaurant Week 2016. There are so many great restaurants in the Green Bay area, and more are popping up as we speak. The five I stopped at aren't just worth a stop when they're offering a good deal, they're worthy options year-round. I wish them all continued success and hope you all have been inspired to give them a try in the near future. We live in an awesome city, never stop exploring!

Until next time,