I decided to have a mother daughter dinner out and have an excuse to try one of the places participating for Detroit Restaurant Week. My mom cares for my grandmother full time and does not get the opportunity for a nice evening out very often, so I was really looking forward to this (as was she!).
After looking over the dozens of menus we chose LDV (La Dolce Vita). An italian spot in the middle of Palmer Park that is known for its lush patio in the summer months. They quote “Detroit’s Best Kept Secret” on their website, and honestly, it’s a secret I wish someone had kept.
The trouble started before we even sat down. Before we even parked! As I got to the area, it was really apparent that this was a neighborhood you didn’t want to be in after dark. When your directions to a friend start with “look for the hoochie in hot pink on the corner”….
I pulled into the parking area behind the building and into a spot. I was immediately told by an attendant that ALL parking is Valet Only, and would be $5.
Now, beyond the fact that I dislike valet to begin with, we certainly wouldn’t have driven separately and added a whopping $10 to our outing just for the privilege of being there. I called mom to inform her of the development and we pulled in to a lot next door to discuss our options.
Changing venues would be awkward (extra gas and parking somewhere else, plus my mom is disabled and mobility is an issue for long distances), so after a bit we decided to deal with the valet. There certainly wasn’t anywhere else nearby to park (unless you wanted to come back to just a frame). Sidenote: Upon commenting to our waiter about the unexpected valet, that it is nowhere mentioned on their site, we were told something along the lines of “they decide when to show up and we don’t have control over it”. So LDV doesn’t seem to OWN any of the parking spaces and their guests are at the mercy of when some random company wants to make money.
We walk in and the host attempts to seat us at a tiny two-top table in the back corner. I am a fluffy gal, my mom is a fluffy gal with mobility issues, so trying to Russian contortionist our way into these chairs (and the awkwardness of trying to leave once someone is seated next to us) was something I wasn’t going to deal with.
I politely pointed at a four-top that was empty and asked if we could sit there. The host kind of stuttered and said something about that was fine but he would pull the two tables apart to allow someone else to sit. Kind of defeats the purpose of space, which I politely again stated that we would need the extra room, and he left muttering to talk to a manager and said something about having “150 people booked for tonight”.
Mind you, this was just after they opened (5:30) and it was fairly empty. Not a single time-slot was filled on their online reservation system that morning when I double checked on my table. I also am not a “sip wine/coffee and linger” type of person so I knew that we’d be well out of there before this supposed flood of people showed up.
To someone’s credit, we were not fussed with about the table again. A gentleman quietly bussed the extra place settings out of the way, and a waiter promptly appeared to discuss the menu.
Since we’d already obsessively looked over everything, we’d pretty well decided what we were having, and ordering was quick. A basket of bread was set down (though I had to ask for butter), and soon our appetizers arrived.
I ordered the Mozzarella Caprese – a plate of sliced fresh mozzarella and tomatoes with olive oil and balsamic vinegar drizzle. I would have preferred a bit more balsamic, and the tomatoes were not sweet/ripe enough for me to finish, but the mozzarella itself was indeed fresh and tasted good.
Mom had the Scaloppa Creola – a seared scallop wrapped in bacon and served with a remoulade of some sort (it wasn’t defined on the menu). It too was well made, the scallop had a perfect sear on the outside and a creamy center as it should. The sauce was a tasty complement to it all.
For the main course I chose Pollo Saltimbocca – a scaloppini of chicken topped with prosciutto, fontina cheese and sage leaf, sautéed in a white wine butter sauce. Served with a side of potatoes
Mom opted for the Vitello Valdostana – stuffed veal with Fontina cheese, prosciutto cotto, seared and then baked to perfection. Finished with a light lemon butter sauce and served with a side of potatoes and vegetable.
I had to giggle when the plates were set down, as the random vegetable was asparagus. My mom instilled a love of all veggies in me growing up, and my husband teases me about my obsession with things like brussel sprouts (a notoriously disliked veggie), but asparagus… oh that is the one thing my mom just can never get herself to like. She’s tried it at multiple places but it just never tastes right. I LOVE asparagus and don’t know how many times I’ve made it at home so I was just fine.
The asparagus was perfectly cooked. Light, crisp-tender, no woodiness in the stems. Lovely. So lovely, that my mom ATE ALL OF HERS. She took a tentative dainty little bite of the end and her face said it all. That irritated look of someone who now likes a food they didn’t before. :rotfl: Of course, that meant no extra for me, but I was glad she found it could be prepared in a way she could enjoy.
The potatoes were a bit of a let down. Chopped roasted potatoes in butter is kind of a simple and cheap preparation, and I expected something with more flourish.
The meat…. Mine was disappointing entirely. It didn’t have much flavor. It was DROWNING in the cheese. I mean look at it – you can’t even tell what’s under that stuff when it’s plated. It was pounded within an inch of its life and had no tenderness (I know scaloppini is thin, but dry and tough it should not be).
Mom’s veal had no lemon sauce. None. Dry. She even had me check the menu again in case she was mistaken. She told the waiter who said he’d inform the chef (but didn’t offer anything more to fix it) and she asked for some lemon to put it on herself. That did at least kick her meal up a notch. It really needed the lemon to sing. Also, we were surprised that it was breaded as “seared and then baked to perfection” doesn’t equal breaded in my opinion. She did politely share more of her veal to make up for my lackluster chicken.
Throughout the meal, if a used utensil was left on the table for too long someone scooped it up and replaced it. I found this a bit ocd myself, but hey, whatever. When I was asked if I was done with my dinner plate and said yes, however, they decided that meant anything on the table and promptly took my bread plate (with bread on it), the butter, the bread basket, and practically anything not nailed down. He flitted off before I could react and I laughed and said to mom “apparently I’m done with my bread too”.
Finally we get to dessert. We both opted for the Creme Brulee, one of my favorite desserts. Sadly, not a fan of this either. The sugar on top that is supposed to be beautifully caramelized was partially singed and still granulated. The custard, which should be smooth and creamy, had a grittiness as though it had not been properly set. I had about two spoonfuls and declared it not worth the calories.
All said, I did not feel I even got my $30 worth and probably would have been better off skipping the apps and dessert and just getting a main course. Though we do have a lovely story to laugh about, I don’t think that’s the intention of Restaurant Week.
Hubby has said that he will be taking me to The Whitney tomorrow and hopefully that will yield some better fare.