Though I love fish in all its variations, I never thought much of yellow fin tuna ordered from a restaurant - too bland, too dry, often too well done. But things changed dramatically the evening I went to the Rose & Thistle Pub & Restaurant in Perrysburg not long after it opened in late 2001. The tuna, prepared rare to medium rare - sushi style - burst with moistness and succulent flavor. What a revelation.
Happy to say, that's still how the Rose & Thistle, and most other restaurants nowadays, prepare tuna. Lee Tebbetts, owner-chef of the upscale eatery, turns out a number of other tried-and-true dishes for his retinue of loyal customers. On any given evening, diners can order from a good handful of choices, among them such standbys as rack of lamb, steaks, fresh fish, coldwater lobster tail, mussels, and oysters.
The food is generally above average and pricey, and the white-linen ambience exudes caf-society class. The restrooms separate the bar from the small, tranquil dining room.
Where the restaurant trips up - dishing out more thistle than rose - is in the amenities, which can most kindly be described as quirky. For instance, in this age of instant computer printouts, there are no printed menus, nor any menu board from which to savor the gustatory possibilities.
Cheat sheets in hand, the servers recite the menu choices in rapid succession - not just specials, but the entire dinner menu. This forces diners either to frantically scribble the evening's appetizers and entrees; ask to hear them again (to the pained annoyance of our busy server), or make a haphazard decision on the spot while trying to remember whether the mahi-mahi comes with duchess or twice-baked potatoes, whether it's the lamb or the filet mignon with port wine glaze, and whether the price was $24 or $34.
Nor, incredibly, is there a wine list to see what varieties the rest-
aurant serves and what each costs; what's available by the bottle or glass, and so on. When we inquired specifically about pinot noir, for example, our server said, "Don't order the house-pour pinot; nobody likes it." After a sample, we ordered it anyway, and it was very good. The server responded with a shrug, "I don't know anything about wine."
We survived the perfunctory recitations and settled in for the meal, which began with French bread and whipped butter followed by appetizers of savory mussels cooked in garlic, butter, and white wine ($10.50); a dozen juicy Chesapeake Bay oysters ($12.50); bruschetta ($8.50), and the aforementioned heavenly tuna in a teriyaki cream sauce, along with a $4.95 bowl of thick tomato cream soup.
Entrees ranged from tender, flaky salmon ($22.50) and Angus filet ($34) to an equally tender lamb with reduced port wine sauce ($35 whole order/$20.50 half). The only disappointment was a medium-rare New York strip ($25.50) that arrived already sliced and arranged artfully on the plate. Such a presentation pleased the eye, but allowed the air to dry out the pretty slices, robbing the classic steak of its juiciness.
In addition to a lavish house salad of many greens and vegetables, the accompaniments showed an imaginative mind at work, rewarding us with both flavor and texture: fragrant Lucky Elephant jasmine rice from Thailand, bok choy, and broccolini, a sweet relative of plain old broccoli.
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