For the latest installment of Sunday date night, Jake and I decided we'd check out Liquid Ginger Asian Grille and Teahouse. Located in downtown Gainesville on Southeast 2nd, the restaurant's relaxed yet upscale atmosphere added to its plush decor. We were seated in a large booth and literally sank into the pillow-like cushions to order our meal. As usual, Jake took all of these photos. (Check out more of his work here.)
I like to order Edamame every chance I can, but I was slightly disappointed by this batch. The pods weren't cooked all the way through and I ended up adding tons of salt to make up for the lack of flavor and texture.
Garlic Hot & Spicy Chicken
Liquid Ginger's menu is extensive with vegetarian options, traditional entrees, pan-seared fish and even rib-eye. The one thing you won't find? Sushi. The restaurant wanted to differentiate itself from it's competitors by opting to serve heartier meals at more affordable prices. After slurping own a Miso Soup I wanted a dish with a little more kick.
The Garlic Hot & Spicy Chicken sounded like it was up for the job, and boy was it ever! My lips started to tingle after the first bite and I had to stop and cool my palette with the cucumber and broccoli side dishes. The thick red and green peppers added a wonderful crunchy texture to the dish, while the rice sopped up all of the excess sauce. The hint of garlic at the end of every bite was subtle and I really enjoyed it.
Thankfully, I didn't walk away from the table feeling like I had nasty garlic breath.
The Pad Thai was a close second while I was picking my entree, so I definitely had to steal a few mouthfulls from Jake's plate. To my surprise, the peanut flavor was very subdued and really let a lot of the other flavors of the dish shine. The rice noodles were a bit messy but added to the overall playful nature of the dish.
All photos by Jacob Romoser
Manuel's Vintage Room is tucked away on South Main Street in downtown Gainesville. An intimate Italian hideaway, the family owned restaurant just so happens to serve some of the best pasta this side of the Atlantic. Manuel's ala carte style menu can be a bit pricey at times, but it's well worth it for the chef's decadent flavors and robust dishes. Snuggled into a corner booth facing the street, candles flickered on the table as I perused the menu while sipping my glass of Pinot Noir. Manuel's extensive wine list will satisfy any vino connoisseur's palette. Our appetizer was a tough choice between the Mushroom Crostini--portobello mushrooms marinated in a wine sauce over a gorgonzola spread topping a crispy miniature flatbread--and the Snails simmered in butter, garlic and seasonings.In the end, we both decided to be adventurous and the snails won out. So dainty and delicious, the sea mollusk was just the right texture with a burst of strong garlic flavor. The buttery leftovers turned out to be a perfect dipping sauce for the complimentary bread.
Being a big fan of Manuel's seafood based dishes already, I knew one of us had to get the Lobster Ravioli. The truffle cream sauce added a sweet tinge to the otherwise savory dish.
Capellini with Shrimp by Jacob Romoser
I was craving a little spice so I went for the Capellini with Shrimp. The angel-hair pasta tossed with sautéed shrimp, chorizo, onions, and tomatoes in an oil and garlic sauce was light yet full-bodied. I was exactly sure what to do with the shrimp tails and looked quite unladylike in my attempt to remove them. The chorizo's distinctive smokiness was a perfect mix with the citrus afterthought of the tomatoes.
This time, I knew there was no turning down dessert. Manuel's Tiramisu tastes like a small piece of cloud drizzled in chocolate. This dessert was by far the lightest I have ever tasted. Rich and warm, the dish kept me oohing and aahing with each bite. The mix of cocoa and ladyfingers went nicely with the decorative fruit on top.