On Friday, we had our team holiday dinner. We headed down to Centro to have a lunch, and quite the lunch it was. Keith, instead of joining us, headed home to lay down, since it was feeling a bit sickly.
We started off with a small Margherita pizza. I had pesto steak sandwich and many others had their own. It was quite good. After lunch we walked down the street a bit, after the drivers plugged the parking meters, and headed to Django for dessert. Between the six that we present, we had an Baked Apple Galette, Lemon curd, and this other dessert that Proctor had been there three times that week to eat. All three were quite delicious.
Saturday, we headed over to Cedar Rapids to the Matta's. We waited for the storm to pass, and then got on the road. The interstate wasn't too bad, though it seemed that whenever there was a car, truck or trailer in the ditch, traffic seemed to slow dramatically. Or around the snow plows and what not. So it took us quite a bit longer to get from Des Moines to Cedar Rapids then it normally does. We did catch up to the storm and got hit by it again as we headed north to Cedar Rapids.
We came in from the wind and the cold.
We settled for a bit (and played some hide and go seek) and packed up in the minivan and dropped off the girls with Jenny's mom and headed over to Winifred's.
We were there early, and seated down and started chatting. Eventually we were joined by Scott (living in CR), Cameron (in from Japan), and Dave (in from Michigan). It was nice to see and chat with everyone. We finally got around to ordering and we split a full order of their onion rings, which were pretty good. Shannon had Chicken Angelo, and I had the beef tips with cognac sauce. I started with a lobster bisque, which was...well...just ok. And they brought out the beef tips. Presentation wise, they were very lacking. It honestly looked like dog food...I was kind of turned off. However, once I tasted they were quite good. The beef was tender, the sauce was round and robust. I tasted Shannon's chicken, with what they called prosciutto....it was way to thick...It tasted good, though...but the texture seemed wrong.
The detractions, from Winifred's were small, but annoying. I admit that we started off slow, however, the service was, generally attentive, but slow. Water was refilled a lot, but the speed that the food came was just a bit too slow. The bathroom was more or less hidden, and the vinyl walls, made to look like the tile, just looked cheezy in comparison with the rest of the restaurant. The wine list was large, but not that I'm a huge wine aficionado, but between Scott and I and the Mattas, other then one brand which could range quite a bit in quality, most everything else we didn't recognize. And with no wine steward to help...it's kind of hard to get through.
The conversation for the night ranged all over the place, from the economic crisis, to just silly inane things.
We skipped dessert, since most of us were full and the Matta's were a bit late in picking up their children.
After we got them, we head back to their home and met up with the whole crew and drank mulled wine, some beers that I had brought. We were later joined up by Richard, who had drove in earlier that day with his wife and child from New Jersey.
Conversation went into the night...very late, where eventually quite a few of us were having trouble staying awake. So the party broke up and people went on their way home.
Sunday morning, we were slow in getting up...though once the light started hitting my face, I had trouble keeping my eyes closed. The Matta's eventually headed over to their first Christmas with Nathan's parents. We got cleaned up, and headed over to the American Skillet. Found online that day, and not too out of our way out of town.
I don't really have much nice to say about the place. I didn't like the orange juice (not even remotely tasting fresh), I didn't like the bacon (to dry?...it was just wrong). The Dallas skillet was ok. Shannon said that she and been spoiled by omelets at La Mie.
However, not all is wrong with the American Skillet. The Fruit & Fiber Cakes, which I had read were good, were actually quite good. It's basically a pancake, set up on one side, adding granola, cinnamon to the other, and then finishing the cooking with the granola. A bit of crunch, some pancake, some blueberries and some butter and syrup. It's like a dream imagined in pot smoker's haze.
The drive back to Des Moines was much much easier, though with the head wind drove down the miles per gallon. It took about 1/3rd of a tank to get to Cedar Rapids, and a little less then half on the way back.
It's nice to catch up with long time friends.