Saturday, November 26, 2016

Saint Jacques is no longer a top Raleigh restaurant

When Lil and Lori Lacassagne owned Raleigh's Saint Jacques French Cuisine, our group were regulars.  We loved the food and the people, and we ate there multiple times each year, certainly at least once per season.  A while back, Lil and Lori sold the place so they could focus all of their efforts on the Burke Manor Inn, and we hadn't returned to Saint Jacques since then.  We'd been a little afraid of what we'd find, and we'd also felt a bit disloyal to Lil and Lori, but, hey, their place is a long drive away, and we love supporting good Raleigh restaurants.  So, off we went to Saint Jacques for dinner.

I am sad to report that this former mainstay of ours has slid rather precipitously.

The service was so notably weak that I'm going to lead with it.  The servers frequently looked confused, and we sat for long periods, both initially and between courses, unattended.  The dining room was nowhere near full, but the service team--and, to be fair to them, the kitchen--seemed utterly unable to keep up.

I'd cut the place a lot of slack, though, if that was its only problem.  The food, after all, is the true star.

Unfortunately, every single dish I tasted, as well as almost all the dishes of the others in the group, was significantly worse than it had been before.  All of my dishes erred unpleasantly toward the sweet.  The onion soup, a basic French dish, lacked richness and flavor but tasted sweet.  The breads were okay but not as good as what you'd get at Whole Foods.  The goat cheese and duck appetizer proved to be a salad with two pieces of wilted bread sporting smears of goat cheese and a few thin and fairly tasteless duck slices sitting atop a mound of over-dressed greens.  The filet mignon with foie entree, at $42 rather pricey by local standards, was a bland piece of chewy meat with a tiny spread of foie atop it, an overly sweet reduction, and three tiny half-fingerling potato bits.

I was hoping desserts would be the saviors of the meal, and indeed the pastry in my profiteroles was promising, but the dish failed under the weight of utterly tasteless white ice cream.  The chocolate mousse was a more than passable chocolate pudding, but it was too simple to deserve the name mousse.

Saint Jacques was once a top-drawer restaurant where I could bring people from any city and expect they would have a good meal.  What we experienced was B- by Raleigh standards--at best, the kind of meal that makes you feel you paid too much for weak food and don't need to return.

I'm going to need to read a lot of positive reviews before I'll go back, and I can no longer recommend it at all.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Bad Santa 2

is not a very good movie.  In fact, by pretty much any reasonable standards, it's a fairly bad movie, a crass recycling of its predecessor that offers few surprises in the course of a journey into the very depths of foul language and awful behavior.

It is thus with considerable apologies that I must confess that I laughed my ass off through most of the movie and left convinced that I would watch it again someday.

Maybe it was the fact that Billy Bob Thornton, Tony Cox, and Brett Kelly were back doing the sorts of things their characters do.  Maybe it was my infatuation with Christina Hendricks, who remains breathtakingly beautiful and sexy.  Maybe it was Kathy Bates' astonishingly sick performance as Billy Bob's mom.

Or maybe my sense of humor is even sicker than I thought.

I don't care.  I had a grand hour and a half watching this film.

If you think your sense of humor might be as wicked as mine, give it a shot.  Otherwise, don't go unless you're prepared to be appalled.

Me, I'm already looking forward to buying the Blu-ray version and hoping for extended scenes.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

If you celebrate this holiday, I hope your day is good and you have the time to think a bit about all the people and things for which you are thankful.  If you want to be with family and/or friends, I hope you are, and if you want to be alone, I hope you are.  If you aren't in the company you wish, I hope it goes well.

I am thankful for all that I have, but most of all for the people in my life, both friends and family near to me, and those more distant, even those, like many readers of my book, whom I have not yet had the pleasure to meet.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

A Thanksgiving confession

I love canned cranberry sauce.  Sometimes, they call it jellied cranberry sauce, sometimes it has other names, but regardless of the name, I like it.

You know the stuff I'm talking about:  it plops out of the can onto a plate and sits there, quivering invitingly at you.  It's clearly nothing natural, and it almost certainly contains enormously more sugar than anyone needs with cranberries, but I've had it since I was a kid, and I genuinely enjoy it.

Some people get fancy and slice it before serving it, but I prefer to begin the meal with the whole loaf just sitting on a plate, being its bad jellied self.  I don't need the first slice; any slice will do.  I enjoy both eating it and looking at it.

I suspect this post could cost me any foodie membership cards I might have now or want in the future, but I won't deny my love of this strange canned concoction.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

My Trump quote of the day

from the quote-rich New York Times story, is this one:

The president can’t have a conflict of interest.
Yup, that's a promising start.

I wonder if visiting foreign dignitaries will get coupon books good for discounts on stays at Trump hotels and bargains on Trump steaks--when you buy them in quantity.

Oh, yeah, it's going to be a long four years.

Monday, November 21, 2016

It's gonna be a long four years

So we're gonna need all the Ramones we can get.  Might as well start here.

Brace yourselves.  Turn up the music loud.  Get ready to fight what's wrong.

It's really gonna be a long four years.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

was a delight from start to finish, a lovely bit of fantasy in a season that can use all the fun and fantasy we can muster.

The movie blends two plots--bad things happening in last-century magical New York, and a magician visiting the city with a bag full of fantastic creatures--to solid effect, with the threads inevitably and appropriately intertwining at the end.  The leads turn in solid performances, though I must admit that from time to time Eddie Redmayne's mush-mouthed delivery did frustrate me.

Like most films these days, Fantastic Beasts does not hold up well to critical analysis after the fact.  In particular, the magic community is both dramatically more powerful than the rest of the human world and also suffering under a highly questionable form of government and system of justice.  (Saying more would require spoilers, so I'll leave it at that; you'll know what I mean if you see the film.)

Though it certainly helps to know about the Harry Potter universe, that knowledge isn't really necessary to enjoy the film.  You can trust to the opening minutes to outline the setup, and from there, it's a new ride even for Potter fans.

If you want a fun couple of hours in the theater, definitely check out Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.


Blog Archive