Lobster Bisque – Chive Crème Fraîche, Red Pepper Croutons
Cosmos Pad Thai with Chicken – Rice Noodles, Peanuts, Cilantro, Fresh Lime
Going from the best meal of the week to the worst in a mere 16 hours was not a pleasant experience. The physical and emotional trauma was so severe that I’m now seeking treatment from both a chiropractor and a hug therapist.
I’ll start with what was done right. Like the dinner I’d had Sunday night, soon after arrival we were presented with an amuse-bouche of a single shrimp and penne with a dribble of a balsamic reduction. Thoughtful, cute and tasty.
While considering the Restaurant Week menu, our table of four mused out loud if we could perhaps substitute a second starter in place of our entrées. Cosmos’ starters were all winners. My lobster bisque, despite the curious absence of tangible lobster, was thick, warm and spicy. Pretty much exactly what you’d like on a cold rainy day in October. Even better was the grilled quesadilla duck confit, with cilantro, mango salsa and poblano aioli. Duck confit seems to be everywhere lately and I’m not complaining. A few weeks earlier I’d had what might have been an almost identical duck quesadilla downstairs at Bradstreet Crafthouse Resaurant (Same kitchen? Anyone?). Both were commendably non-greasy and the mango and aioli were subtle, yet effective touches. However, the spiced basil shrimp with ginger garlic sauce was the hit of the table. The colors and textures were pleasing, the spice was perfect and the sauce was both distinctly Asian, but again, a perfect core-warming flavor for a cold and damp day.
Which brings us to the end of the good parts. Cue the funeral dirge.
Having had both a great brunch and dinner here on previous occasions, I was more than a little disappointed at the unanimously underwhelming lunch entrées. My pad thai was almost distressingly unexciting. I’ve had better at, and I’m not kidding here, Noodles and Company. Though, my mouth was still slightly ablaze from the spice in the bisque, the noodles seemed virtually tasteless on their own. The veg had been spiced up, but there was so little of it on the plate that mouthfuls of noodle were blah more often than not. (To be fair, one companion had gotten the veggie pad thai and reported that hers was very spicy, though hers strangely didn’t have any peanuts). Finally, the chicken, matching the rest of the plate, was plain and forgettable.
The seared walleye with wheat berries, dried cranberries and goat cheese, with a champagne vinaigrette was the meager highlight. The small-portioned walleye was pan-fried and pleasingly salty. The wheat berries were light and healthy and the cheese was a paradoxical mouth-humper, tasting like a show-bred combination of brie, goat and blue cheeses. It was like an oral defibrillator, comparatively shocking to the taste buds compared to everything else on the entrée plates.
Finally, the “601 Club”, a towering Dagwood Bumstead-sized sandwich with smoked turkey, smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato, mustard and mayonnaise on brioche, was declared to be “a perfectly adequate rendition of a club sandwich,” but far short of living up to the Cosmos repute for galloping excellence. Indeed, my companion confided that, while it was just fine, she probably would never order it again.
All of this disillusionment was underscored by a one-man, singing and dancing cabaret of terrible service. Our server, a native French speaker, had plainly decided to preserve his home country’s cultural fondness for bored dispositions, lackadaisical work ethics and aptitude for ignoring patrons for ridiculous periods of time. The interval between receiving our menus and actually getting the opportunity to order went on a little too long, but that paled in comparison to the marathon wait for him to collect our dishes, then again to bring our bill, and finally the futile wait for him to process the bill. After an intolerable amount of time (one person in our party had already left so as to not miss a conference call), we reluctantly collected our credit cards and ponied up the exact amount of cash just so we could get on with our lives. By the time we got out of there, we’d been sitting for nearly two hours – for a two course lunch. In a half-empty restaurant. Bloody ridiculous.
Once again, the showcasing, out-reaching spirit of Restaurant Week appears to have been completely disregard in favor of reluctant acquiescence, which, not surprisingly, led to inconsistent and lackluster food.
I’m awarding the lunch two “Oh Gods” out of five.
The fixed price lunch is a decidedly overpriced $20.
Cosmos’ full Restaurant Week lunch and dinner menus are posted here.