Small Plates at Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar

This post has been brought to you by kathycancook’s very own “BF”, who also sometimes writes in his own blog.

A few weeks back, Kathy was invited to a blogging event at Fleming’s to experience their new small plate menu items. These type of events more-often-than-not fall into the category of “fun, but gastronomically unremarkable” (even more so when the restaurant is a national chain), so I considered passing on this one, but decided to tag along as a plus-one, aiding with pictures and review-related-thinking-activity-things. What I can report back is pleasant surprise. We were treated to a series of dishes, each one vying for my affections by exploiting my different culinary vices. Like children, I could not choose a favorite and had to eat each one multiple times. As such, I’m going to review each dish briefly so as to avoid gross keyboard-unfriendly drooling.
First up on this new lineup is the Filet Mignon Skewers. The skewers were cooked perfectly (rare-medium-rare for-the-win) and was accompanied by “the Sauce”. The Sauce is comprised of two-parts Gorgonzola, one-part bacon, and thirteen-parts jackalope magic. After being the first to taste it, I promptly (and secretly) snuck around the room looking for anything I could dip into it so as to maximize the relocation of whatever Sauce that was present from cold, unfeeling porcelain dishes into my stomach. Assume from this point forward, that all the other dishes I tried were first consumed as they were intended, and then again with gratuitous amounts of the Sauce drizzled all over.
Next came the Sliced Filet Mignon. Let me just re-iterate again here how perfectly this and all the other meat was cooked. My experience has been that most places (including steakhouses) have difficulty hitting that rare-medium-rare sweet-spot – Fleming’s nailed it each and every time (and let’s face it, if you’re eating over-cooked meat, you might as well not bother).
I’m not a huge fan of chops as a finger food, but these lamb chops were delicious and accessible.

Let’s also not forget the seafood offerings. We tried their tempura-breaded lobster, shrimp skewers, Ahi tuna skewers, and scallops. Full disclosure: I am not a seafood fan, save for very few, very specific exceptions. I tried each of these dishes, and was surprised to enjoy each one – they were actually on par with my all-time favorite, steak (which is nearly blasphemy in my book).
We wrapped up with espresso and white chocolate-covered chocolate truffles, which were their own kind of heaven.
I won’t lie, I was surprised by the quality of Fleming’s dishes. While I don’t consider myself a particularly discerning foodie, I recognize the difference between “pretty good” and “fantastic”. If the quality of these dishes are what can be expected at every visit, I’ll be adding Fleming’s to my list of regular places to eat.
Please Note:
We were also treated to red and white variations of wine, though I don’t feel terribly qualified to judge them. I enjoyed them plenty, but wine is one of my regular blind spots. The event was complementary, but as is the norm here at kathycancook, our opinions are our own.

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A bit from BF on Poutine and a Giveaway winner

BF is an aficianado of all things French-Canadian, including poutine and slightly bastardized French (he frequently pronounces oui as “waaaaay”, though I am under the impression this is just to annoy me :p).  He was brought up in a tiny town in Northern New Hampshire where he could throw rocks across the border and spent a couple winter carnivals in Quebec City freezing his tuckus off and wishing he was old enough to drink a cane of liquor with his poutine.  We both went to Saus and ate delicious food recently, this is his review (ode really) of their poutine.

Occasionally, a US eating establishment will claim to serve that most elusive and seductive of Canadian dishes: poutine. Ever the optimist, I inevitably order the dish, only to have my skepticism validated by whatever laughable forgery is placed in front of me. For me, poutine is a sacred dish, and must not be desecrated by a chef’s “interpretation”. Because you see, just as there is only one true way to pronounce the dish’s name (hint: it involves Quebec’s singularly unique pronunciation of French syllables), there is only one way to prepare True Poutine: Fries, canned beef gravy, and cheese curds. No, you may not substitute for another “lighter” type of cheese. No, you may not use seasoned fries or “potato wedges”. And god help you if you try to use homemade gravy; it comes in a can for a reason. If you want to add any other ingredients, that’s fine, but don’t call it poutine. This is how my various Quebecois friends’ mothers had prepared the dish throughout the entirety of my childhood and if it was good enough then, it’s good enough now; gooey, health-ravaging decadence and all. The only flexibility in poutine preparation lies buried in the ongoing conflict between the schools of ‘thick-fries-absorb-gravy-better’ and ‘thin-fries-are-crispier’.

I mention all this because I had pretty much resigned myself to the idea that I would never taste the delicious glory of poutine without traversing the border into French Canada. But against all odds, Saus has thoroughly trounced that expectation and delivered unto the world a damn fine US-located poutine dish. They do opt for the aforementioned thin-fries-are-crispier philosophy, which is a little easier to manage than the more fickle ‘thick fries’ (which become soggy and disappointing if not cooked just right), but what really shines here is, unsurprisingly, their sauce. While they cover the wide range of tastes with their fry dips (see Kathy’s comments on these; I still long for the day when I can purchase bulk quantities of their garlic-and-butter-suffused “Vampire Slayer”), they resist the temptation to force these innovations on their poutine and instead present it as it should be: with traditional, thick, savory brown gravy, just the way Nature always intended. In fact, I’m seriously re-considering the ‘gravy must be canned’ requirement. About the only qualm I have with their poutine is their naming choice, implying that it is a Belgian dish. While I accept that continental cross-pollination occurs with cuisine as a regular course of action, I simply cannot think of poutine as anything other than firmly Canadian. But I won’t quibble over titles, because call it what they may, it looks, tastes, and just plain feels like the classic comfort dish of our northern brothers. And in my book, that’s an unprecedented feat.

Also, The winner of the Saus giveawy for a $15 gift certificate is comment 15!  Congrats Kimmy!  You should email/text/IM/DM/Tweet/smoke message me when you get a chance 🙂