This is a companion piece to James's other article on Cuisine 1300. Read that here.
I walked into Cuisine 1300 not quite sure what to expect. I had an idea from what I’d heard around campus and from my interview with Chef Thomas, of course… but you never truly know until you experience it yourself, do you?
The atmosphere is pleasant. The room is well-decorated in pleasing, neutral tones, with calming classical music and quiet conversation – but not so quiet that my tinnitus went totally flip-noggin crazy on me. A very good sign, if I do say so myself.
I was sat a table away from our distinguished president, Kojo Quartey, and his guest senator Dale W. Zorn. The other table had Josh Myers, executive director of the Foundation, with Victor Bellestri and his wife Bonnie. Bellestri is the new chairman of the Board for the Foundation. I felt decidedly underdressed in my sky-blue sweater; most of you have probably at least seen Dr. Quartey around campus – he’s a sharp-dressed man – and Josh Myers is by no means a slouch, either. Next time I’ll have to bust out my corduroy jacket and pink-and-purple chess piece bowtie.
My server was Nathan Trumbull. Serving is not an easy job from all I’ve heard, but Nate’s not a half-bad conversationalist (so sayeth the man who cannot shut up), and he knew his stuff. He was able to answer all my questions about the menu and remained unfailingly professional throughout. Plus, he kept my glass of Pepsi filled; yes, I was very pleased. (And Nate, next time you see me, don’t forget to shake me down for your tip, man! You deserve it!)
A bread basket was brought out first to complement the honey-whipped butter that had been waiting for me. The roll was good, but the zucchini bread and the cheesy biscuits? I thought I’d died and gone to Heaven. The bread was just sweet enough, and the cheesy biscuits were like miniature versions of the ones at Red Lobster. I had to stop myself from filling up on them!
For my appetizer, I had the Cajun shrimp pasta, prepared by Talia Ogle. Let me just say that if Talia ever wanted to bribe me into doing something, she could use this pasta to do it. I’ve never had such well-prepared shrimp before. I’m not usually a fan of it, either, but the texture on this was phenomenal, as was the level of spice. Not too hot, but certainly not tepid. If I hadn’t been in a fine dining establishment, I may have made a pig of myself and licked the bowl clean.
The house salad, complimentary with every entrée except the Entrée Salad, is a delicious medley of baby spinach, goat cheese, roasted almonds, bacon, and sliced strawberries. Topping this is a pear vinaigrette dressing. Okay, let me be real here: I. LOVE. PEAR. VINAIGRETTE. I used to be able to get it at Meijer, but I can’t any longer, and man was this so good! And what’s more, it was fresh! Jessica Russel, you’ve made my favorite salad.
Now, my entrée was hard to pick. Look over at that menu and tell me I’m wrong. Everything sounds good. (Well, except the Michigan Muscovy for me – I love Skyler, he’s great, and I’m sure it’s delicious, but I just find duck way too oily no matter how it’s prepared. Sorry, man!)
I eventually chose the Korean-style Burger after much deliberation. It was a near thing, though – the Entrée Salad and the Honey Bourbon Glazed Salmon sound so good. I’m going to have to go back for them. My grandmother certainly wants to for that salad. But I digress.
The Korean-style Burger was, as I’ve been saying about everything else, fabulous. I was concerned about the kimchi as I’ve found it a bit unpalatable at other restaurants, but this kind was delicious. It paired well with the lemongrass aioli (so good, and a very pleasing shade of green) and duck egg, not to mention the delicious burger itself. The chips on the side were just the, ah, well, icing on the cake, if you’ll excuse that turn of phrase. I didn’t even mind when the egg yolk burst on my first bite and ran all down my front.
Dessert was a lovely brownie topped with a raspberry cheesecake gelato. I wish I’d ordered another, but alas, I’m watching my sugar intake. Don’t get fat, kids; constantly worrying about diabetes sucks.
The kitchen was also very kind to offer me a to-go order of the turtle cheesecake for my grandmother. She hasn’t gotten to it yet, but I’m sure she’ll love it, too. After all, it’s cheesecake – any Golden Girls fan worth their salt loves cheesecake!
All-in-all, I just have to say this…
If you haven’t eaten at Cuisine 1300 yet, why? Don’t walk; run! Your tastebuds will thank you, as will the fine folks in the culinary program, I’m sure.