Late Saturday afternoon, we took a trip to Home Depot. Aside from pressing issues like needing bug killer and weed killer, we had finally decided to plant some flowers and grow some herbs. Despite trying to sort out the details of this 'plant project' ahead of time, we still found ourselves milling around the flowers, plants, and herbs trying to decide what exactly to purchase. And then, we needed to return to Costco to buy a bag of soil. Sigh. Some things just take longer than they should.
By the time we had finished the plant errands (and some other errands) and dropped off everything back at home, it was a bit after 6 pm. We had been discussing several options for dinner but hadn't settled on anything. I was leaning towards trying somewhere new. I'm not sure what SP really wanted, but we both agreed that it was time for a trip to the still open Te Cafe. That opened up a lot of possibilities since we weren't staying in the Robinson area.
So we set off and tried Piccolo Forno first. We figured there would be a wait, and there was, judging from the people standing around outside on the sidewalk. A wait isn't necessarily bad, and it's to be expected on a Saturday evening, but we couldn't find a parking lot nor good, available street parking, so we drove on (remember I use a wheelchair, so parallel parking can be tricky since my side, the passenger side, is always against a curb, so we have issues of how high is the curb and how close can we get, etc.; parking lots are much better for us than street parking).
Next try, J'eet -- they are now open Monday-Saturday until 9 pm. Unfortunately we didn't know exactly where we were going other than near the new Children's Hospital. We drove right by it - oops. I spotted it right as we were past it and we quickly surveyed the area but we didn't see any good lots nor available street parking, plus it looked like there is a step, although a small one, at the entrance. Not wanting to circle around looking for parking since we were getting really hungry, we drove on.
At this point we were thinking Paris 66 or Gullifty's, both places we've been to before. We didn't want anything too expensive. Places like Tessaro's, Sausalido have steps (we drove by both); I wasn't in the mood for Asian since it's not my favorite cuisine; Toast also had the parking issue when we drove by and finally discovered it's location (not that Toast fit our 'not too expensive' desire for the evening, but it is on our 'To Try' list). We drove by all those places while debating. We didn't want to go to the South Side. Basically, it was Gullifty's is decent & inexpensive & near Te Cafe but does not have a very exciting atmosphere and we both wanted a nicer atmosphere to relax and enjoy.
So it was Paris 66, a place we last dined at in October 2009. There's a metered parking lot behind Paris 66 (and the other stores along that block) which makes it very easy for us.
At a little bit after 7 pm they were not very crowded. It did take a few moments to get seated (maybe 5 minutes), supposedly because they were clearing off tables for us and the couple that walked in right before us. We didn't sit out on the deck; we were seated inside and while I like the decor, especially the yellow walls (I like yellow - when we painted the sunroom I chose a pale yellow), it is very loud. It was difficult to hear each other.
We waited about 5 minutes for our server to come over. We ordered iced teas. Of course in all the flowers/herbs 'excitement' we both forgot to grab a bottle of wine so we were BYOB-less, which is OK since usually we only order wine when we are out for a special meal like a birthday or anniversary. We were so hungry we did not want to take the time to go across the street and up the hill to the liquor store.
After 15 minutes with no sign of our server or iced teas, we asked a hostess who was resetting the table next to us if she could find our server. She was properly apologetic, but...
When our server arrived, she apologized and asked if we were ready to order. SP and I just looked at each other for a second or two, sort of stunned. She had not yet told us the daily specials. Yes, we saw the board right next to us with the 3 daily appetizers and the special entree, but what was the Soup du Jour? The Quiche du Jour? The Pizza du Jour?
So I collected myself - this being the 3rd time in a month with shabby service in Pittsburgh was sort of making my head want to explode plus it was now about 7:45 pm and we were HUNGRY which is partly our fault for taking so long on errands and being indecisive on where to eat BUT we had arrived at 7:15 pm and had been seated for 20-25 minutes. I took a deep breath and asked about the 'du Jour' items. She told us, but she couldn't give the soup a name. She said it was a sort of tomato soup with a lot of stuff in it like tarragon and... well, truthfully, I tuned out here. If the server cannot tell you the Soup du Jour...
I guess SP paid more attention or decided to throw caution to the wind because he ordered the Soup du Jour: It was a kind of tomato soup with cheese and it wasn't thin but sort of... pulpy, maybe? Like a texture of runny applesauce once you stirred it up and got a spoonful from under the surface. It was tasty.
SP ordered La Paris 66 Crepe - (ham, Swiss, mushrooms, tomato Provençale, egg:He enjoyed his crepe. I didn't try any of it. I'm not a fan of buckwheat crepes nor do I especially enjoy sunny side up eggs.
I chose the Quiche du Jour - a zucchini, eggplant, red pepper, tomato quiche. It's the same quiche I had the first time we went there.The quiche was tasty. I really liked the crust. I also enjoyed the mixed greens with one or two pieces of sun-dried tomato and house dressing, which is a vinaigrette dressing.
We both ate everything on our plates. It took a while for dessert menus to show up. It was odd - the guy who came to clear our plates asked if we wanted dessert menus, we said yes, then waited. Our server finally came over, asked if we wanted to see dessert menus, and got us the menus - ? Honestly, I was sort of crabby because of the service and sort of just wanted to leave. But I do like dessert crepes. But they got rid of the lemon crepe and replaced it with a honey, lemon, almond one, which didn't especially excite me, and none of the other crepes was really grabbing my attention. Hmmmm...
SP wanted the dessert of the day, a Lemon Mascarpone Tart, but they were out of it so he ordered Apple Tart with caramel sauce.He's glad the sauce was on the side. I thought it tasted more butterscotch-y than caramel-y. The apple tart was tasty and warm.
I ended up ordering La Boulogne Crepe - banana, Nutella or house made chocolate sauce, and whipped cream. I got it without banana since I am not a huge fan of bananas in dessert. When I was a very young girl, maybe 5 years old, one hot summer evening at grandma's house we made banana splits for dessert. Mmmm banana with ice cream and chocolate topping, probably a maraschino cherry, whipped cream. So good... until I finished the huge sundae and promptly threw it all up.
The fallout from that experience was that I despised bananas. I still ate chocolate, ice cream, all that stuff -- but bananas grossed me out. A favorite brotherly torture was when he made peanut butter & banana on toast sandwiches - he'd wave it right in front of my face. Bleah. Two things I did not like at all.
These days, I will eat bananas - but only for breakfast (that was my breakfast when I worked downtown - a banana every morning). So no banana on the crepe, just Nutella and whipped cream.It was tasty. I ate it all. Then we waited for the check. Then we waited for our server to pick up the bill and credit card. Then we paid and escaped - seriously, we felt like we were escaping. It was 9:20 pm!!!! Over two hours at Paris 66! It took 20 minutes for the whole 'get the check-pay the check' process.
Much as I want to like Paris 66, and I do like the food, I don't think we'll be back any time soon. Yes, both the hostess and manager apologized for the waiting, but... their service has been a bit worse each time we've gone and this time was sort of 'the last straw.' We'll probably go back, but not for a while.
Thank goodness Te Cafe is open until 11 pm! We zipped over and parked in our usual lot and walked down the hill and across the street and into relaxation. We are very happy that someone took over Te Cafe and kept it open. SP ordered a pot of genmai-cha. I had a pot of Blue Lady - and we bought some Blue Lady to bring home. I read National Geographic and did some crossword puzzles; SP played on Droid. It was very relaxing. We both got refills on our pots. We left a bit before closing. A nice end to the day.