A wonderful Holiday meal, for casual dining in a comfortably elegant atmosphere. The management provided an upscale menu and experience with linen tablecloths,napkins, candles and festive centerpieces. It could have been a bit more romantic with dimmed lighting in the later evening and music suitable for the event.
The menu was very nice, we had two appetizers, the Shrimp Cocktail and the Sautéed Scallops. The shrimp was super and the garlic aoili was the best. The scallops were good also, but the mushroom sauce should have been a tad thicker. We actually ended up using the sauce as a "dip" for our bread, which was really wonderful.
We chose the soups over the salads and the Tomato Basil soup was definitely better than the Cream of Mushroom soup which was not worth eating. As a matter of fact it is this mushroom soup that was one of two reasons that kept me from giving the five star rating. I should have had the salad.
For our main entrées we had the New York Strip Steak with Garlic Mashed Potato and the 1/2 Roasted Ducking with Red Cabbage. The Steak was fine, the sauce made it above average, but the garlic mashed was just really plain mashed. If you were not told about the garlic, you would not have realized that the flavor was supposed to be there. But they were real mashed and still good.
The Duckling was a real standout! Not only was it roasted to a perfect crispness, tenderly coming off the bones...but the browned cherry sauce was absolutely a delight to the taste buds. It was not sweet as expected but savory, and a perfect compliment to the sweet sour red cabbage. I have been eating duckling for 30 years and have never experienced one so delightful.
There was some special additions to the dessert menu as well. We chose the Chocolate Mousse and the Banana Cheesecake in Phyllo Dough. The mousse could have been so much better, I would like to reserve judgment on this as it was the end of the evening, probably the bottom of the bowl...so to speak. I do not think we got the true showing of this dessert. So I am going to skip this and move on to the knockout punch.
The Baked Phyllo purse was soooo good you have to try it. I would go back just for this dessert. It is a single slice of (homemade?) banana cheesecake, a bit of fresh banana, chocolate sauce, wrapped in a "purse" of phyllo dough and briefly baked. It comes out as a beautiful presentation, enough for two, and is crisp and smooth, and ahhh!
We had two glasses of wine, a mixed drink and spent just around $90.00 plus tip. We felt it was a great night for a reasonable price. We got parking right in front, and were seated within a few minutes of our 8:30 reservations.
Our waiter kind of sucked, he was completely unable to answer even the most basic of questions about the menu, bar, it was as if this evening was the first time he had ever worked at Al's. Another reason why I withheld the fifth star and did not leave a more generous tip for working a holiday.
Over all, we were very pleased, with special menus like this, we will definitely be thinking of Al's for our holiday events, but when we make our RSVP's we are going to be a little smarter and RSVP' our waiter also!