Thursday, November 22, 2012

Villa Ravenna at The Farm is top shelf from antipasti to digestif

It was Saturday evening and we had reservations for 8:00pm at Villa Ravenna. We were celebrating our 7th wedding anniversary and wanted to try something special.  They didn't let us down on any level.  It's funny how you have to do the song and dance with the waiter when you're seated.  You know how they offer the most expensive items, that I've never found them to be worth the price, but I can see how they would make some extra profit getting that guy trying too hard to make a good impression or perhaps paying for an indiscretion. I never like those first minutes but you know the meal will be excellent if the wait staff handles the situation with the right attitude.  We started with a little wine and dates stuffed with Mascarpone cheese and chives then wrapped in bacon and finished in the broiler.  Oh.... My..... God..... those were the most delicious things on the planet at that moment.  And they just kept raising the bar from there.  The wine list was very interesting as the owner certainly has put much time into pairing his wine with his food.  You'll find more than a few wines, regional Italian labels, that you just don't see on the wine lists of other restaurants.  Unfortunately they can only sell these by the bottle so be sure to bring friends if you're looking to share something unique.  Steph was able to get a glass of Super Tuscan, and sorry the waiter forgot to let us know the maker, and I had glass of house Chianti.  Both were affordably priced and had better quality than we expected.

We shared a salad of spinach, strawberries, feta cheese and walnuts dressed in a balsamic vinaigrette.  It was big enough for both of us since we were trying to save a little room for dessert.  Everything tasted fresh and the balsamic vinaigrette added just the right amount of sweetness to offset the tart strawberries, dark green flavors of the spinach, slight acidity of the feta and richness and crunch of the walnuts.  Again, a very balanced plate. The night was turning into something special.

Did I mention the bread?  Freshly baked Italian style baguette, sliced and warm with a wonderful dip of olive oil, black pepper and several herbs. We could have eaten our weight just in bread. But I digress.

One of the reasons we picked Villa Ravenna was the fact they make their own pasta. Mmm, fresh pasta. So be sure to order to their strengths.  Steph ordered a plate of tortelloni, which look like small ravioli, which comes with three different sauces.  Pesto, Alfredo and  tomato lined up to make a little Italian flag. It was cooked perfectly and Steph kept saying, "This is the best meal I've ever had at a restaurant."  I had to agree.  I had my favorite Italian dish, Frutti Di Mare or Fruit of the Sea.  They called it something a little different on the menu. Clams, mussels, prawns and other seafoods mixed in a plate of fresh, homemade, pasta with a slightly spicy tomato sauce.  Like Steph I think it was the best plate of Frutti Di Mare I ever had.  Let's just say the prawns were cooked perfectly, not rubbery or cold like most restaurants.  I'll say it again, compliments to the chef as he, or she, truly deserves recognition.

We finished this wonderful meal by sharing a dessert of Tiramisu, espresso and Sergio even made us try his homemade Lemoncello.  The tiramisu was nice and moist, not too sweet and finished off the evening just right.  Sergio's Lemoncello was definitely the best way to end such an excellent meal. It's tart and strong up front and slowly calms to a refreshing sweet lemon flavor on the palette.

What a wonderful experience. Great food, great service and an owner that is there making sure everything is perfect. With that combination I can say without reservation that you will never have a bad meal, or experience at Villa Ravenna. And I'm the Grumpy Fat Man so that's even saying a little more about their quality.

Thanks for a wonderful first seven years Steph! And I look forward to many more. I Love You!

Villa Ravenna on Urbanspoon

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Silver Dollar Cafe has good food and quite the menagerie of fun and shopping

Just jump on Highway 169 and head north past Owasso to the lovely and prospering town of Collinsville where you'll find the Silver Dollar Cafe.  Take the Collinsville exit, turn back east and you'll see it on the right after several blocks.  Just look for the "high gravity" beer, "All you can eat chili dogs" and "Rules of the Man Cave" signs.

The first thing you'll notice is the tin ceiling tiles, rustic pine board seating and a group of skeeball and pool tables. This place is certainly family oriented and can get a little loud but it's big so you can get away from noise if you like. Just seat yourself.

Off in a separate room that looked like it had a stage of some sort there was a group of old timers playing bluegrass and country hits of olde. "Let me be your salty dog, or I won't be your man at all..." was the tune of the day as they played and laughed.  I didn't ask but I guessed they are just town folk that get together on Saturdays to play a little music and pass the time.  I enjoyed it so they made me tap my foot along with them.

If you need to find a Christmas gift for that hard to shop for relative you might also be in luck at the Silver Dollar Cafe.  They had long glass case of most anything you can think of rather out of the ordinary.  Life sized, blow up, Spiderman? Check. Survival knife? Check. Giant 64oz OU thermal coffee mug marked "medium?" Check.  Tin sign with "The Rules of the Man Cave?" Check.  You get the idea.

OK, enough about the decor and wares, let's get to the food.  They have a basic comfort food menu of chicken fried steak, 4 piece chicken plate, fried pork cutlet, all the usual suspects are there.  We started with a platter of onion rings. They were battered in probably the same batter as the chicken.  The slices of onion were thick but they were rather light as we ate them.  The batter was nice and honest, not too much seasoning but enough to enhance the flavor a bit.  I ate mine with the side of ranch dressing they served with the rings.  It was nice and thick and while I'm not a big ranch fan I thought it was some of the better ranch I've had.  I'd guess they made it inhouse given it's thick, rich flavor.

We both ordered hamburgers for our meal.  Steph had the BBQ Cheeseburger, small and a side of fries.  It's a good thing she asked what the small and large burgers meant as the price is deceiving.  Small is 1/2 pound while the large is a full pound.  Holy...  We both ordered small and asked for them to be cooked medium to medium rare.  The cook hit it perfect. Just a little pink inside.  I had the Hot Hamburger which is a little different. They take the 1/2 pound ( small ) patty, put it on a piece of Texas toast, cover that with fries and then ladle over plenty of brown gravy.  I was afraid the whole thing would be salty from the gravy but again they did it right and everything blended together nicely.

The service was exceptional, the lady waiting on us was attentive and almost overly nice about everything. She even noticed the soda pop was looking a little weak and changed the syrup tank for us. You can't do better than that!

Overall the Silver Dollar Cafe served up some really good comfort food at a more than reasonable price with exemplary service and we even knocked out a few Christmas gifts in the process.  Plus it's a nice little drive so you can get out of the big city for an hour or two and forget the stresses of the day.  Deep breath, breathe in that fresh air.  Obviously I'll be back to Collinsville and the Silver Dollar Cafe.  What a pleasant experience. Even the Grumpy Fat Man can smile at the Silver Dollar.  That's saying something.

The banner below says Owasso but just remember it's Collinsville a few miles further.

Silver Dollar Cafe on Urbanspoon