Optimistically Cautious

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Lukewarm Reception: Violino

On the heels of our great meal at Violino (10133 125 Street) two weeks ago, Annie decided that she wanted to hold her birthday celebration there this year. Though she had called too late to book the private room upstairs, our party of 7 were comfortably seated at a quiet table on the main floor. Violino was notably busier than our last visit, with a Sienna Collins-hosted fundraiser taking place on the second floor, and the University of Alberta President Indira Samarasekera having dinner just a few tables away.

The menu had changed slightly (they eliminated the Carbonara from their pasta section and added a 24K gold leaf cake to their dessert list), but Annie and I were both happy to see that the Risotto con Funghi was still on the menu.

We also ordered wine that evening, settling on a Chilean Merlot. That was the start of rather curt service from our waitress, who was impatient from the get-go, returning much too frequently for our drink orders as individual guests arrived, and not offering even the semblance of a smile or friendliness in our interaction. When we asked her to exchange our teapots of lukewarm water for water more conducive for tea, she was abrupt and rather rude about what was clearly her mistake. It would be a shame if Violino lost return customers due to her less-than-warm demeanor.

As for the food - Annie thought the risotto was better this time around, but I thought it was comparable with our last meal. Mack enjoyed his Tiger Striped Agnulotti with Lobster (served with a really generous amount of seafood, and was the best value at $26), while Dickson didn't think very highly of his Ziti Al Forno.

The very friendly host brought out Annie's candle-topped cake (leading us in a "rousing" rendition of "Happy Birthday"), and helped serve slices of the cake to everyone at the table. We did linger for quite a while (despite telling glances from our steely-eyed waitress), and though we may have overstayed our welcome slightly, it was nice to chat in a dining room that had nearly emptied out by 10.

While I won't let this experience color my overall positive impression of Violino, I would be interested to see what a third visit would bring. In any case, it was a lovely dinner, Annie - happy birthday!

Tiger Striped Agnulotti with Lobster

Ziti Al Forno

Birthday girl

Janice and May

Me and Mack

Mack and Dickson

Andres and Annie

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