Despite the fact that several botox beauties and their not-so-better halves were awarded special treatment (seated immediately while the rest of us waited), I do have to thank Chef Short for accommodating my dietary needs. On a whim, the chef prepared me a fabulous appetizer—a tomato and olive tapenade with grilled flatbread. I shared it with my omnivorous dining companion who agreed it was stellar! The main course, while not a total miss, was definitely not a hit. Served over a bed of (cold) basmati rice laced with an arrabiata sauce, the wild mushroom and spinach stuffed heirloom tomato seemed rather uninspired and lacked serious flavor.
What went wrong??
Several things, really.
1. Well, it isn’t the best season to feature a tomato, is it? No.
2. I failed to ask the server (who was fantastic, by the way) what special dish the chef was preparing for me. I admit I tend to put too much trust in well-respected chefs.
3. The chef should have informed me of his culinary plan. Had I known a tomato was to be the featured item, I would have objected.
4. We really should have walked away after waiting over an hour for our table…let alone two hours! Bad call on my part, but I felt bad leaving after giving the chef a heads-up that we would be dining there that evening.
5. What was I thinking going to this place right after its rave review from DMN’s Leslie Brenner in the first place??? That was just plain dumb.
So in all fairness, I really need to give Bella another shot (on a much less hectic night). As one of my favorite food writers reminded me, this is not uncommon when a new restaurant is overwhelmed due to press coverage. And I do see definite potential for Bella as a vegan-friendly dining spot—great wine selection, excellent bar and table service, and any chef willing to accommodate dietary restrictions at a relatively low cost deserves props for his/her efforts.