Saturday, January 7, 2012

DeSha's - a Montgomery (OH) Fave, but Not one of Mine

DeSha's American Tavern and Grille, located in Montgomery, Ohio, came highly recommended to us by a real live native.  It's located on one of the main drags, and sits close to the road, beating other restaurants and shops to the hungy diner's eye.  It's one of those restaurants that can't decide what type of restaurant it wants to be:  cool, hip place for the yupsters and up and comers, quiet place for the well-to-do, intimate tavern, country inn with with exposed wood beams or sports-bar grille.  Too much confusion and not enough cohesion.  Consequently, the interior is a mash-up and for me, just didn't work.  The interior is very large and dining sections are tiered in an attempt to create more intimate dining spaces.  One wall was solid windows, and in the spring, summer and fall probably offered a lovely view of the odd little man-made lake next door (or is it a retaining pond?  In the dark of night it was difficult to tell.)  If nothing else, DeSha's can seat a lot of diners!

We started our meal with a Villa Mt. Eden Cabernet, from Napa Valley, CA.  Priced at $32/bottle at the restaurant, please bear in mind this is typically a $12-15 bottle at your local grocery or wine merchant.  It was delightfully spicy with rich hints of black plum (think almost overripe), caramel and cherry.  You'll also catch a smidge of a taste of cocoa and vanilla. 
First came the wine, then came the warm cornbread.  Having been raised on Jiffy cornbread served exclusively with ham and bean soup, I am no fan of cornbread in general.  Yet, for whatever reason, if I'm in the south (or close to, as Montgomery Ohio is considered to be practically in Kentucky) I like to try out the local cornbread.  I'm always hoping this lowly po' folks bread can be redeemed.  Two things were in this cornbread's favor:  it was served warm and I was hungry.  It was mildly, almost intangibly sweet and kernels of corn added to the robust texture, but it suffered from a dryness and a noticeable lack of flavor.  I had higher hopes for the entree.

I ordered a filet and my date ordered the special: surf and turf.  What luck!  We both got the surf and turf (strike two).  The special was a 4 oz filet and four shrimp skewered and grilled to perfection.  Drizzled over the filet was a lovely combination of bleu cheese crumbles, onions, shitake mushrooms and corn.  (ok, a little weird, but it worked)    Though the meal was cooked to perfection, it was served lukewarm, one of my pet peeves.
I'm kind of funny, I like hot food to be served hot.  On top of the lukewarm meal, the sauce was a little chilly, ok, really?  It was cold.  The grilled shrimp was tasty, but cool, and the mashed boursin potatoes?  Sounds good, right?  They were!  Unfortunately they arrived late to the party, after the meal was consumed.  In the background the live band played, "good-bye Ruby Tuesday".  Not sure if it was prophetic or pathetic.  The bright shining note of the evening meal (beside the delightfully delicious wine) was the sauteed spinach.  It was served hot! 

Oh dear.  Our waitress sensed our dissatisfaction as she brought the mashed potatoes to the table.  She was probably wondering, "how do I fix this multi-faceted dinner disaster?"

CREME BRULEE to the rescue!  I am a huge, huge fan of creme brulee.  A good creme brulee combines the sensory experience of the baked custard of my youth with the new sensation of the burnt sugar crust!  I need to add another exclamation point!!!  I love creme brulee.  So she tried to make up for the delicious but chilly dinner, the wrong entree and the late side dish with a free serving (to be shared) of creme brulee.  All right, all sins are forgiven.

Unfortunately, the creme brulee had a mildly crispy lid, maybe it had been left in a place with too much moisture.  I love a creme brulee served slightly warm in the middle , but crunchy and sweet on top.  I'd give DeSha's creme brulee a B.  It was cold, cold, cold, fresh from the chiller.  It had probably been keeping company with the cheese/corn/mushroom sauce a mere 30 minutes earlier.

So we finished our dessert, finished our wine, left the restaurant which was suffering so much from an identity crisis and headed home.  We'll probably return, only because we like to give a restaurant a second chance.  But for DeSha's, that's all they'll get.

If you're ever there, let me know what you find.

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