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Menu Tasting!

April 17, 2010

Recently, we attended a menu tasting at our venue, Casa Real. They do menu tastings about once every 3 months, and invite all the brides and grooms getting married during a certain time block to come. The venue was set up to showcase some of the linen options (ivory or chocolate) and chair options (black banquet or mahogany chiavari upgrade). They also had some professional lighting set up too, so we could see what that looks like.

In attendance: Mama Jelly, me, Mr. Jelly, FMIL and FFIL.

We were seated at a 10-person table with another family, and it was so fun exchanging our opinions about everything with a set of friendly strangers. I thought it was pretty funny that we tended to agree on everything too! Anywho, without further ado, let’s get to the good stuff: the food!

Here were the appetizers we sampled:

Not shown: the Eggplant Caponata on Crostini

For the wedding, we’ll have our choice of 3 appetizers that will be hand-passed during the cocktail hour. My personal favorite was the Chorizo and Date Wrapped in Bacon – salty, fatty, crispy deliciousness! Mr. Jelly loved the Heirloom Tomato and Gruyere Cheese Sandwich. While Mama Jelly loved the Crab Salad cones, Mr. Jelly and I thought it was a little bland. And even though I liked the Ahi Tuna appetizer, I’m worried it’s too “exotic” for most of our guests. Not everyone loves raw tuna – FMIL didn’t even want to taste it! So we figured we’d go the safer route and have the delicious Eggplant Caponata on Crostini (not pictured) as our third appetizer.

Onto the main course…

The fish and vegetarian options

Everyone agreed that out of these three, the vegetarian ravioli was the best. Which is kind of disappointing, because I really do like me some good fish, but their fish was disappointing. The Mahi Mahi was gross and undercooked (it even LOOKS gross, IMO) and the Salmon, while tasty, was covered in a sauce that was a bit too sweet. Then came the meat options:

Not pictured above, because I forgot: New York Steak with Brandy Peppercorn Demi and Fried Shallots, Yakitori-Glazed Tri-Tip with Green Onions and Toasted Sesame Seeds, Achiote Marinated Tri-Tip with Fried Pasilla Demi and Queso Fresco.

Out of the meat options, the crowd favorite was the Oven-Roasted Chicken with Wild Mushroom Sauce! Mass cooked chicken tends to be overcooked, but the delicious sweet wine butter sauce kept the chicken moist and the mushrooms gave it a great flavor! We unanimoulsy agreed that this would be one of our 2 entree options. The other chicken option with sweet corn and tomatoes was kind of bland. As for the second entree option, we gravitated towards the beef choices. The Carolina Style BBQ Pork was really disappointing. It seriously tasted like they cut up a pork loin and poured store-bought BBQ sauce on it. Are you listening Casa Real? Anyway. I personally liked both the Tri-Tip options, especially the Yakitori style, but everyone else preferred the New York Steak (not pictured) because it’s a better cut of meat. I thought it was tasty too, so we decided that’s going to be our second entree option.

All in all, it was a pretty fun menu tasting but if I’m completely honest, I was a little disappointed with the selections. I was expecting to have a hard time choosing between the different options (all the Yelp reviews about our venue rave about the food), but I thought there was a clear winner in each section so it didn’t really feel like there was much of a choice. And since the family across the table from us agreed on each and every one of our choices, I don’t imagine that many people went with different choices. I’m happy with what we chose, though, and even though we’ll be doing the traditional “chicken or steak?” thing, I think it will be delicious.

How have your experiences been with menu tastings?

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