What time is it, you say? It's Rogue Festival time says I!
Yup, time again for the (once) largest non-juried arts festival west of the ole muddy Miss'i'sip! And of course that means that I'll be running all over hell and breakfast working on Cap'n Scurvy's Ragnarok Hootenanny Jamboree.
But in those few quiet breaths, I'm going to be looking for new and interesting places to eat. We all know how I love the Landmark and Livingstone's. And despite what Ms. Heather says about them in the Beehive, I have had some very pleasant meals there. More on that later.
So where to go? Charlotte's bakery is a must, as will be Cafe Corazon. And I've heard rumbling about the old Daily Planet having some new life breathed into it. And of course, there are a couple spots that have been generating some serious negative press due to general rudeness and in one case trying to screw over Rogue performers and the festival in general. So it should be interesting to see how well they handle themselves in the midst of a festival rush.
And speaking of negative press. There has been some serious vitriol coming from a certain Beehive blogger being cast at poor ole Livingstone's. Now, I'm all for negative reviews. Besides the lie that you hope the feedback will help them to rectify the problems that ruined your evening, you really just feel good about venting your spleen about spending money on a bad night. I get that. But there has been a double barrel blast to 'Stone's stately dignity. Harsh blasts. So, it fell to me, your loyal arbiter of service and taste, to see if Livingstone's really was going the way of the Revue.
So, I and the intrepid Mrs. EOF wandered into 'Stone's around 8pm for Sunday dinnera. They were what I like to call "lightly slammed". Which for 'Stone's means that the dining room had 2 open tables, the bar was full and the patio was lightly populated. We were seated immediately without reservations and had our drink order promptly taken and water appeared immediately.
Our drinks arrived within 5 minutes at which point we put in our order. Being overly picky (since this is a counter review), the waitress seemed a little suprised that we were already ready to go. But she was prepared and able to answer my annoying nitpicky questions about my entree and was pleasant enough for business. Not exactly the killing herself to please me type of waitress, but she was efficient, which is WAY more important to me.
We started off with their calamari sticks. Which are ok. They're made from strips of calamari steak, rather than the usual squid rings, so it's a very different bite. Ultimately it's squid, so there isn't much of a flavor explosion. They tend to be fairly darkly fried, to ensure doneness, but it does tend to dry them out a bit. Still, they're popular. I'd suggest adding some kind of aioli as an additional dipping sauce, just to switch it up a bit.
One of the evening's entree specials was a halibut steak with a tropical salsa (re: mango) and choice of sides. So that was my choice and the Mrs. went for her usual black and bleu pasta. The beginner salads were the usual salad mix, couple crutons and dressing. Standard but properly prepared. The entrees came out promptly but properly spaced after the salad. The black and bleu pasta was (I'm told) fairly tasty, but I was all about my halibut steak.
It came out at a good temperature and it was BIG! I'd guess that it was around a half a pound or more of fish. Nice sear on the top and it had a really great taste. It was a little bit dry, but given the size of the filet, I can be forgiving. The tropical salsa was nice. Not too sweet, not swimming in onions. However with my recent pepper obsession, nothing is hot enough anymore.
Well, wouldn't you know it? A kind, local pepperhead had just given me a whole baggy of dried fatali peppers. So I conspicuously dragged a huge baggie out of my pants and crumbled about half a pepper into my salsa and gave it a mighty stir. Now THAT was some tropical salsa! So, pickin' on the entree, I'd say slice that big sexy hunk of fish in half and gimme two giant hunks of fish. And kick up the salsa with some fatalis for the Fresnans who can handle some spice, baby! The baked potato was a mighty fine tater to boot. But who goes to a place for their baked potatoes?
Now that wasn't so painful, was it? And we were there to be critical, rather than just an incidental meal. Service was overall on time, pleasant and out of our hair. We enjoyed both our meals and the entree and considered them to be worth what we paid. And the service was easily worth a 15% tip.
So, I dunno whats wrong with Heather over at the Beehive. Maybe it's her perfume or theres some kinda pheromonal clash going on, unseen betwixt her and her kitchen liason. While some criticism is certainly warranted in any establishment, I think 'Stone's has taken enough lumps. There are plenty of spots in Fresno that deserve a good lambasting before revisiting an old dislike for a fresh coating of acerbic wit.
Needless to say, the Eating Out Fresno opinion is: homegirl be trippin'! Livingstone's is as good today as it has always been in my lengthy Fresnishian experience. Good servers, good food and one of the only places in Tower you can take a party of 10 without getting dirty looks and suspiciously slow service. So party on during the Rogue Festival and don't be afraid to drag a buttload of people over to 'Stone's and put them through your own review!