Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Restaurant Week in Downtown Akron

Last week was Downtown Akron Restaurant Week. It was developed by the Downtown Akron Partnership Junior Board to encourage residents of the Akron area to explore the burgeoning dining scene in Downtown Akron. The four-day event provided reasonably priced prix fixe dinner menus at a variety of Downtown restaurants, making it easy and enjoyable to try something new!

My good friend and fellow food lover, Bev, and I had reservations for Bricco on Tuesday and Cilantro on Wednesday evenings. There were plenty of options as most all downtown restaurants had some sort of special going on for the week. That made choosing among them pretty difficult.

At Bricco we were surprised at the small crowd during the dinner hours. And we certainly had time to take it all in, we spent four hours eating and chatting while watching the busy Exchange street traffic go by from our window table.

Dinner that night was $40 for two and consisted of our choice of appetizer, two soups or salads, and two entrees. We added a nice bottle of red wine to that and it was a lovely meal with more than generous servings. Our meal started with the Goat Cheese with Spicy Marinara appetizer, a salad each and then we ordered a Pizza with Grilled Chicken, Spinach, Roasted Tomatoes and Asiago Cream Sauce and the Tri-colored Tortellini with Marinara or Sauce. We split everything at the table and it was far more food that we could eat. I ate pizza and goat cheese marinara for two days over the weekend!

From our perch in the window we could see the hustle and bustle of the downtown crowd. On a beautiful late summer evening it was good to see people around. The only downside to the night was that someone broke into my car while we were enjoying our meal. Certainly there was no lack of police presence as it seemed that a patrol car turned onto Exchange from Main Street every few minutes. Too bad it was enough deterrent to keep someone from getting into the car.

What I learned from that experience is that if you have a car (like mine) that has a lock/unlock button on the arm rest, don’t leave your window above open any amount – these thieves manage to put a stick in through the window and push open the door locks. After rummaging through the car and taking what they wanted, they were nice enough to relock the doors behind them. How thoughtful.

The following evening Bev and I headed back downtown to dine at Cilantro. Cilantro combines an eclectic atmosphere with excellent and interesting food. Their eclectic menu features specialties from Thai and Japanese cuisines with variety of exotic spices. They also have a sushi bar.

Again, dinner was $40 for two and our meal started with Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce, then our two entrees were Shrimps and Scallops with Sweet Chili Sauce and Chicken in a Pineapple. We shared a dessert of Coconut Ice Cream with Sweet Sticky Rice and Fresh Mango.

Cilantro was a delightfully pleasant experience. I’ve been there twice before and wasn’t quite as impressed as this last visit. The service in the past was extremely slow, which doesn’t make for a pleasant meal. In contrast, last week we were seated in the beautiful back room and our server was astounding to watch. He was attentive and fleet of foot and it felt as though he spent most of the evening running to attend to all of his customers needs. The food was delicious, our martinis well made and refreshing and we’ll be happy to return for another meal soon.

I'll be looking forward to more RestaurantWeeks whether annually or more often.  It was difficult to judge how many folks were out on Tuesday for the special menues, but we could tell on Wednesday that the majority of the Cilantro guests were choosing from the prix fixe. Good job DAP Jr., keep up the good work!

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