Food, Music and Kids, in that order

So yesterday afternoon, we headed over to Cedar Rapids to go to the CR Symphony's presentation Masterworks II: Asia Minor. It featured the Crown of India Suite (Elgar), Flute Concerto (Chesky), and Scheherazade, Op. 35 (Rimsky-Korsakov).

We met up with the Mattas, and left Jenny's mom with Taylor and Cali, while we headed to downtown Cedar Rapids. Both Shannon and I noticed that there has quite a bit of revitalization going on to the downtown area. Many new (to us) shops stores and what not, including Blend.

So Blend is a fairly modern looking restaurant. including a waterfall wall...which, when I first entered the restaurant had the faint smell of chlorine, but I may have been imagining things, cause nobody else did. We arrived shortly before six, and even though the restaurant was mostly empty, we had to wait. Nathan did notice that they had a lot of reservations at 6 and beyond that, so I guess it did explain that, but I'm just a fan where people just reserve a table or two for walk up custom...sometimes you don't know where you'll be going (we sure didn't). We were seated in a relatively short amount of time.

The tables were very angular in their appearance. They were setup in a fashion where the corners of the tables were uncovered, but the rest were with a white table cloths, to create right angles. The napkins were also folded in right angled triangles too. It was very pleasing to my eye...since I'm a fan of things like that (it makes my brain feel comfortable). The only thing that distracted me, was that my place setting was a little off (the spoon placement didn't work for me). I think it only stood out, because the rest of the placement of things seemed relatively perfect.

Service was relatively quick and she seemed nice.

I ordered the only appetizer, which they describe as: Pork confit and ginger spiced carrots in crispy wonton with caramelized cabbage, and sweet Chinese mustard aioli. This was interesting, the pork wontons were spicy and to the left, there was a salad mix in middle that was sweet, and to the right it was vinegary. Separately, the pork wontons were good, but the rest was ok. but in concert, and concept I think it was pretty good.

For our main course, Shannon ordered the Seared Sea Scallops with celeriac and Yukon gold potato pave, brown butter roasted Acorn squash, watercress-pecan slaw, pickled red pepper, and a creamy apple-fennel puree. Jenny had the Pan seared Pork Medallions with red wine-Amerena cherry risotto, roasted garlic-lemon zest green beans, local field greens with hot mustard vinaigrette, and a porcini pan sauce. Nathan had Belgium ale brined Airline Chicken breast with bacon-cider sweet potato hash, tarragon creamed Brussels sprouts, caramelized parsnips, and a dark roasted sweet onion puree. I had White truffle and Panko crusted Veal Scalloppine with pancetta and Taleggio cheese smashed new potatoes, juniper and caraway roasted root vegetables, and roma tomato potage. The ladies ordered a mixed greens salad and the fellas ordered Roasted Pheasant soup.

The fennel in the soup made it. The broth was very good, a nice mixed of flavors. Nathan said the roast pheasant wasn't a very good example, and it could've been turkey or any other roasted bird. I don't have much experience with pheasant, so I couldn't state one way or the other.

So the tastes and the flavors ranged. I thought my veal and the potatoes beneath it was pretty good, though the Panko crust on the bottom of the veal was kinda soggy because of the potatoes. Shannon's Scallops were good and the potatoe pave was also very nice. Nathan thought his meal was pretty good, except for the chicken, which was pretty bland. Jenny's pork had no taste at all. She said the rest of the meal around the pork was pretty good.

For dessert, Shannon and Jenny both had a warm chocolate thing (I forget), I had a carrot cake and Nathan had Creme Brulée. The chocolate thing was very good, along with the Creme Brulée. The carrot cake...was...not but not really carrot like. It had orange zest in it...and..well...that was pretty much the only thing you could taste in the cake. The frosting was nice though.

Overall it was pretty good. Though I think a little overpriced. We got out of there (including two glasses of wine) for just under 100$, excluding tip.

We walked over to the Paramount Theatre and up to our seats. The music was pretty good. The Flute Concerto was a bit odd, but apparently it was the second time it had been performed. I was interesting and often times went with threads of music that were very odd together and then joined and then got very odd again. I did bring up Christian Tiemeyer, and I am still curious what happened to him. Their site said he retired... My older sister was friends with his daughter and I went to many many concerts under his 20 year stint as the music director.

Afterwards, we headed back to the Mattas and started to watch the the Boston Red Sox whoop on the Cleveland Indians (Jenny's a big BoSox fan). Shannon went up to bed and the rest of us finished the game. I started to fall asleep around the 7th inning...but it finished up pretty quickly...

We woke up the next morning, had some freshly made biscuits. Nathan then got ready to take the girls to a Halloween thing at Usher's Ferry. Both had homemade costumes. Taylor was Snow White and Cali was Cinderella. Very cute.

We left for home as they left for Usher's Ferry.

We stopped at the Williamsburg Tanger Factory Outlet, ate lunch, and wandered around a bit...didn't buy anything. We looked at some cooking stuff...meh.

And then we finished our trip home. Fun weekend.