ERIE -- While the customer might not always be right, he doesn't deserve to be blamed for a meal's delay once at Cousino's Frog Leg Inn, let alone 10 times.
Cousino's Frog Leg Inn ***
Address: 2103 Manhattan St., Erie
Hours: 5 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Reservations are accepted and suggested for Fridays and Saturdays.
Wheelchair access: Yes.
Average Price: $$$
Credit Cards: AE, Dis, MC, V.
Web site: frogleginn.com.
Ratings: ***** Outstanding; **** Very good; *** Good; ** Fair; * Poor.
And, to be clear, it was more than 10, but that's when we decided to stop counting. It might have been slightly amusing the first time because it was a Friday evening, but as time went by it progressed to annoying, irritating, and, finally, frustrating.
Frankly, if we had known the roast lamb bourguignon ($21.99) would have taken more than an hour to arrive, we would have ordered something else. A little warning would have been nice. Perhaps a token drink or dessert?
Instead, we were treated with, "Blame him, he's the one who ordered the lamb leg," several times by our waitress, and at least twice by the manager. It was said in a joking manner, but it wasn't funny. Especially when the lamb showed up luke-warm.
The bone-in lamb shank was roasted and served with sauteed crimini mushrooms and red onions in a red wine and beef demi-glace. It, obviously, was prepared with a great bit of care because it tasted wonderful, even though it was barely warm. I can't help but wonder what it would have tasted like under perfect circumstances.
The chicken dijonnaise special ($14.99) featured chicken thighs with a dijon mustard, tarragon, brown sugar, and maple marinade that were grilled and served over a heavy cream sauce with large pieces of bacon and onions. The chicken, while served in a small portion -- especially compared to the large amount of the buttery and sweet sauce -- was cooked well. It was served with mashed potatoes that were rich and chunky and sweet shredded beets.
The 12-ounce pork Normandy ($18.69) is a hand-cut pork rib chop doused with sauteed apples and mushrooms with a heavy cream sauce. It was the most complete dish we were served that evening and had us thinking positive thoughts for our return trip.
We returned on a much quieter weeknight, and the service was improved.
The Canadian Lake Erie walleye ($18.29) with light breading and beer batter served with homemade tartar sauce and larger chunks of pickles is a huge piece of fish. The batter didn't weigh down the fish, which was flaky but a bit oily. Opting for the sweet potatoes (add $1.50) it was surprising to see they too were breaded, which cut down on the flavor. The honey chipotle sauce served with them was a better alternative to the overly sweet caramel or brown sugar sauces served at most area restaurants. The vegetable that night was braised cabbage.
The 10-ounce New York strip steak ($16.99) was ordered medium and served medium-
rare. However, it was beautifully seared and delivered with a right-on charbroiled flavor, which made it easy to overlook that it wasn't cooked to order. The smashed potatoes were expertly prepared.
The pumpkin cheesecake ($4.25) also was a hit that evening. It was like a dense pumpkin pie, but creamier.
●The dining room on that Friday was rather frantic, even though it was only at about 80 percent of capacity. The wait staff was hurried and seemed off its game. Perhaps they were short-staffed?
●We tried the deep-fried frog legs ($7.99) and weren't impressed. They were oily and tough, and left us wishing they tasted like chicken.
●The Frog Leg Inn has a formidable wine selection, but we were disappointed in the draught beer selection: Molson and Killian's. It's not too late to get with the craft beer phenomenon that's sweeping the nation.
The Frog Leg Inn certainly has a lot going for it. It is housed in a building that was established in 1835, has a gorgeous dining room and bar, and has received a few sterling reviews in these pages over the years. But the restaurant game is an ever-evolving one, especially when it comes to the competitive upscale market.
Here's hoping there's more hop in the historic inn's step the next time we visit.
Contact Bill of Fare at email@example.com.