CLOSED: Pauli’s Bar and Grill [3/5]
3 (60%) 1 vote


Note: This restaurant is now closed.

A friend has always spoken highly of Pauli’s so when a Groupon came available, I snatched it up and the hubby and I made plans to celebrate my birthday there. Apparently, if you sign up for their email newsletter, they will send you a certificate for free desserts on your birthday and anniversary. I prefer not to hand out my personal information until I know I like a place, so I opted not to. However, if you know you have a special occasion coming up, you certainly could sign up in advance.

The hubby and I had 7 o’clock reservations, but due to overestimating the drive time, we arrived nearly 25 minutes early. The hostess didn’t even blink at the change and we were promptly seated. Unfortunately, the first thing I noticed was the rather loud music. It caught my attention because instead of the usual jazzy instrumentals generally favored in fine dining establishments, they were playing top 40 and the song on just at that moment featured a obnoxiously whiny singer. By itself, it was soft enough to talk over, but as the small room we were seated in filled with other patrons the combination of chatter and music made it difficult to hear.

Our server was extremely courteous and professional as he went over the specials and took our drink orders. I was surprised that at 6:30 on a Saturday, they were already out of both meatballs and scallops, each of which were used in multiple dishes. I expect a restaurant open for 10+ years to be able to accurately predict the rate at which they use various ingredients and not to run out, especially so early in the evening.

The menu offered a wide variety–from the less expensive “comfort food” to the exotic mixed grill which contained boar, rabbit sausage, and quail. The hubby and I stuck to more classic dishes. I opted for the New Zealand rack of lamb with the soup of the day, a creamy broccoli soup. The hubby selected the king sized (~10 oz) fillet minon with the spinach salad. We were warned by our server that the steak, being cooked over the wood fire grill, would take 45 minutes to prepare.

While we waited, our server brought out some bread and garlic butter.

The bread was a soft white bread with a chewy crust and virtually no flavor. The garlic butter was standard spreadable butter with loads of garlic–wonderful for garlic lovers but probably a bit much for everyone else. The butter’s strong flavor made up for the bread’s lack, but while the combination was passable, it wasn’t anything to write home about.

Our soup and salad came up quickly.

My soup was described as a creamy broccoli soup with garlic and Parmesan cheese. In actual fact, the broccoli flavor was completely buried under garlic and cheese, more like liquid garlic bread than a vegetable. The texture was smooth-ish. It was slightly gritty, as though it should have been strained and wasn’t. It was tasty and I easily finished my bowl but it really wasn’t what I was expecting from a broccoli soup.

The hubby was completely won over by his salad, declaring it one of the best salads in town. The spinach was fresh and the bacon vinaigrette a simple tangy dressing with a strongly bacon-y flavor studded with small bits of bacon.

As we waited for our meals to come up, we munched on some more bread, chatted, and sipped our sodas. I had requested a Roy Rogers from the bar (essentially a cherry coke, mixed at the bar) and I was pleasantly surprised to find that they treated it as a standard soft drink (tall glasses, refills) instead of a bar drink. I wasn’t as thrilled with their maraschino cherries which tasted as if they had been soaking in seltzer.

Our dinner came out a good 15 minutes faster than our server had prepared us for and we happily tucked in. The presentation of the dishes was quite lovely. My lamb (shown at the top of the post) came on a bed of garlic polenta, drizzled with Dijon alioli, and served with sauted spinach. The spinach was unmistakably fresh and paired perfectly with the dijon alioli. The polenta had a lovely creamy texture but a scattered flavor, bouncing between a sharp tang and a mild buttery lemon, both of which were out of sync with the description of a “soft garlic polenta”. The lamb was tender, but seemed completely unseasoned. The alioli sauce, when paired with the lamb, took over and completely drowned out the natural flavor of the lamb.

The hubby’s meal included his fillet, mashed potatoes, and broccoli.

The broccoli was fresh and the hubby liked his potatoes, however the steak, while well cooked, was not very flavorful.

We finished off the night with a slice of a flour-less chocolate torte.

The dessert was beautifully plated with pillows of house-made whipped cream, and fresh fruit garnish. The torte was rich with a beautifully creamy texture and a thin layer of ganache on top.

I was surprised that at a high end steak and seafood restaurant, the vegetables would steal the show, but that’s exactly what happened at Pauli’s. The veggies were fresh, vibrant, and delicious. However, our meat was well cooked but seemingly unseasoned. The overall theme was one of very pared down seasonings except where garlic was involved, in which case it was amped up. The food was not bad, but given the price point, I expected more.

Total for the meal: $97.20 (includes two entrees, two soft drinks, and dessert)

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