Sunday, January 15, 2012

Lana Restaurant and Bar, Charleston, SC

I Really Wanted To Like It, But........
When we first moved here a few years back one of my fondest memories was the dinner celebration we had after we closed on our house.  Our realtor and his wife took us to Lana for dinner for what I must say was a very memorable meal. It's funny to think that we've never been back so when restaurant week came around we decided to make that one of our first stops.

From the get go, I should have spoken up.  In what was a veritable empty restaurant we were sat at a tiny two-top along a very long banquette of other tables.  Unfortunately, I didn’t. 

As we started to look over our menu options imagine my surprise when the very NEXT table was sat directly next to us, and almost on top of us.  Really?  The mom and daughter from New Jersey were very nice, but because the acoustics in the restaurant weren’t great, with such a small crowd we felt like we had to whisper through our meal.  Hardly a pleasant experience and unfortunately, it goes south rather quickly.

Fresh bread with olive oil was quickly delivered to the table.  The bread was warm and house made, we thought that this would be another great Lana meal. Not so much with the great meal.

Our first course was by far our best.  The Gnocchi Abruzzese, again house made, were piping hot, fluffy and topped with a spicy lamb and tomato ragu.  The Spicy Grilled Shrimp with Eggplant Caponata Salsa Verde defied adjectives and I thoroughly enjoyed it - now on to our entrees. 
 Gnocchi Abruzzese

Spicy Grilled Shrimp with Eggplant Caponata Salsa Verde

My Pan Roasted Local Fish (Tile Fish), Fennel Tomatoes, Squash, Zucchini, Local Potatoes and Shrimp and Saffron broth was just okay. Although the fish was cooked very nicely, the items that accompanied the fish were cold.  When we flagged someone down to get a warmer version, they were happy to help but the “redo” was tepid at best. Unfortunately this was the better of the two meals.
Pan Roasted Local Fish
The Crispy Pork Confit Mepkin with Abbey Oyster Mushrooms, Braised Greens and a Balsamic Agrodolce looked like three small pieces of Jimmy Dean’s breakfast sausage, so charred that we thought this must be a mistake.  Not only was pork confit charred the dish itself was doused in a balsamic reduction that overpowered the meal.
 Crispy Pork Confit Mepkin

As patient as my husband is in matters like this, he did call our mystery-man server (since we hadn't seen him for most of the meal and he never introduced himself) over and ask him if this was the correct preparation of the dish.  Our server explained the prepping of the dish and said, “Yes sir, this is the way it’s made. The pork is seared off. ”  Not being able to contain myself I said, “Charred?” to which he replied “Yes Mam”. 
Crispy might be an understatement...
Our desserts were also sad. The Orange Vanilla Risotto Pudding with Cinnamon Spiced Pecan was terrible.  The “pudding” was more like a milky concoction with nuts floating in it that was way too sweet. My Lemon Olive Oil Cake with Warm Berry Compote was attractive, but over baked and very dry.
Orange Vanilla Risotto Pudding

Lemon Olive Oil Cake
I love Restaurant Week and the opportunity it provides everyone to visit restaurants they may not normally visit since the prices are so reasonable.  However, if you’re a restaurant, and you’re going to participate, you should be better prepared than Lana was for our dining experience this past Saturday. 

Lana Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

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