Recently there has been much debate about two eateries by the local blogging community. So much so that I am not even going to try to link to all them. Just too difficult with my nearly antiquated Mac that will not allow me to cut and paste links. So if you really want to read all of the reviews and subsequent discussions go here and read, I’ll wait…. OK, are you up to speed? Good. Now, let’s move on to our adventure….
Finn and I started the evening at Can-Can. After getting more wet in the freak thunderstorm than at his swim lesson we had arrived in a fairly damp condition. We pulled up to the bar and grabbed an extra barstool for the impending arrival of RVA Foodie and our discussion on the dangers of cutting onions. Seems both of us had damged ourselves. Myself while slicing where a slide of the outer ring of the onion sent the knife through the side of my finger down to the fingernail. RVA with the error all of us fear the most – a mandolin mistake. I’m still missing a piece of my thumb from my last careless use of this culinary death trap.
As I savored my Tanq 10 martini I pondered the discussion that had gone on over the last month or so about Can-Can. No real complaints about the food, really mostly raves, it was increasingly inconsistent service – mostly at the bar – that had everyone all up in arms. I quickly realized that I would be a bad judge of the bar service. The managers all know me, or actually they know Finn (I’m just the one who pays his bill), as do most of the bartenders – one is even a customer at my bookstore. Besides that, I tend to be a bit pushy. I won’t give them a chance to ignore me. I did notice they had one more bartender on then they usually did at this hour and that they were keeping much more busy than last we were in. Perhaps the scathing letter from In Vino Veritas had done the trick. RVA Foodie arrived, was greeted by the bartender and…. oddly, was not offered a drink. I’m guessing we should call that a fail.
At this point as Finn and I had been there an hour before Foodies arrival and Finn was making the transition from quiet, content and drawing to his strange need to circle the restaurant. The Can-Can staff are very indulgent of Finn and servers and managers played with him and helped me keep an eye on his travels. (Parental Note – Had there been any diners at the tables or had he disturbed anyone trying to eat I was prepared to remove him – as it was just after 5 everyone was at the bar.)
We noshed on some raw bar and one of the managers bent the rules and got Finn some gougeres off the dinner menu. Sensing Finn was ready to go we asked for the check. Although we had asked for separate checks it came combined. Sigh, fail. Honestly, we were never asked if we wanted to order anything, food or drink. Not once was there a spontaneous offer of a drink refill. I suppose if they are going for aloof French service they have achieved their goal. Personally, I think they have quite a bit of re-training to do as they seem to have drifted from their basic level of service they had when they first opened.
Saying good-bye to RVA Foodie, Finn and I took off for something more substantial to eat. Pizza sounded good so it was off to Tarrantino’s. Half the bloggers seem to love this new place while the other half have been completely unimpressed by it. Prior to Fridays visit we had eaten with them twice. Once at the restaurant and once by take-away. Eating in-house the crisp was perfect and I raved. Eating at home…. the crust had steamed to sogginess (not sure if that is there fault or the cities founders for building Richmond over a humid swamp…) and we had the most distressing of topping slides. Basically it was a wreck. IVV had eaten there last week and declared the crust soft and the pizza greasy. Time to recheck the in-house, superior in my mind, product.
I ordered two small pies. One a red Hawaiian, the other a seafood bianca. No puddle of grease on either and the crust was perfect. Disappointments? I had a couple. The pineapple on the Hawaiian contained so much moisture that there was a puddle of liquid in the center of the red pizza. That moisture may have been the driver of our topping slide that we had at home. The seafood on the bianca…. the scallops (bay) were firm and tasty, the shrimp were also bay and were lacking. Just this side of fishiness the pizza would have been better served using chopped jumbo shrimp rather than the bay. This was also our first try with the bianca – excellent.
We took the remainders home for snacks. Trying a piece cold that evening I found the crust to still be firm with a bit of crunchiness. So at least we know it travels well after being allowed to cool.
Bottom line – Can-Can needs more friendly engaging bartenders that are more service oriented. The current level of service is more nightclub than upscale restaurant. Pizza at Tarrantino’s needs to be eaten in-house, either in the main restaurant or back in the pizza parlor. Do not allow it to steam itself to sogginess. Not even out to the parking lot. They either need to put steam vents in the boxes or we can’t do carryout until Fall when the humidity drops down to a more pizza friendly level….