Kent, Ohio        Date of Visit  11/01/13     

New rule! Janet is not allowed to pick restaurants anymore. Just kidding, especially after some of the crap factories we dragged her to try (example). She read about the new restaurant in the newly shiny and buff Kent downtown district. I read the menu and itís as out of place in Kent as Tory Burch handbags would be at Walmart. The owner has a long restaurant history and Kent could probably use a snootier place so we were excited to give it a try. We lucked into a parking space on the street, not as easy to find as they used to be, and walked into the hotel and right past the restaurant without realizing it.



A Gift From The Kitchen

When our only options were the pool and the exercise equipment we headed back to find the portion of the lobby, which looks like a hotel bar, is actually the restaurant. Our server was very nice but could use some training and once she heard us grousing about one of the dishes was hard pressed to make the smile on her face appear genuine.

We ended up doing a good bit of grousing. We had a couple of cocktails, both of which were over poured by at least 2X. I think the bartender has tried the food and was hoping to dull our palates and minds before dinner arrived. If you want to get hammered though, they pour long and strong.

The kitchen sent an amuse bouche of a bacon wrapped water chestnut with a little balsamic and diced sweet pepper. It was alright, itís bacon after all, but I could find no evidence of the vinegar and the peppers had to have been intended for color and to fill out the plate some which would be a theme with the appetizers.

Highlight Film Ends Here

So Nothing Like A PotSticker

Stuffed Zucchini Was Stuffed...

But Would Have Tasted About The Same Without Stuffing

We then got a basket with three types of rolls, which were easily the high point of the entire adventure. The pretzel roll was my favorite but could have been improved with some big grains of salt. After the bread everything else swirled ever down.

We tried a couple of appetizers, both of which were served with enough field greens to feed half a zoo. Smaller plates would keep the apps from looking anemic without clear-cutting some farmerís field. Plates would do nothing to save the actual appetizers. We had tried to order one of the flat breads but they didnít have it so we ended up with stuffed baby zucchini and pot stickers. The more successful of the two were the zucchini with herbed young cheese and panko. The reason they were better than the pot stickers is they didnít really taste like anything. There was a bit of veg on the palate but the cheese was woefully underwhelming and the whole thing wept for salt. There were a lot of leaves though.

The pot stickers werenít pot stickers. Seasoning is not a forte at Zenas. The ground pork in the dish was exactly that and little if anything else, that was the pot sticker part. Instead of a pan fried wonton wrapper this was wrapped in a dry calzone-esqe bread dough. When something is labeled Asian on the menu I expect sharp ginger and earthy soy or maybe some garlic, what we got was an unseasoned pizza roll and something akin to a horseradish ranch dressing.

A) Asian   B) Potsticker   C) None of the above

They were supposed to come with a sesame slaw but they apparently need to push the salad before it goes south.


Sadly, The Best Entree Of The Four

Lacks Flavor Because It Lacks The Ingredient Intended To Supply It

Things didnít improve much overall with entrees. Iíll start with the least offensive, the cashew crusted chicken. A single breast was tender and had a tasty enough crust with an orange butter sauce. It was served with a quinoa which was flavored in a strange and distracting way and beans I didnít try. Essentially hotel conference food done perfectly averageÖunfortunately it was the only one to muster average. I was curious about the ravioliÖspinach and chorizo with a white wine cream sauce. First the ravs were not spinach and chorizo. The only sausage in the dish came in few and random nuggets in the sauce. Loads of cream, a little pasta, some spinach and wee bits of sausage result in scant flavor. Lots of calories for no payoff.

New Definition Of Char

This Has Already Cut Maine's Tourism By 5%

The Buckeye Ribeye was served with stone cold mash and had been marinated with something (likely garlic) which had been burned to a fire-pit-ash-nasty. Maybe thatís why they didnít try to season anything else. It wasnít a great steak but it was done as ordered and pretty tender. If you donít mind licking charcoal briquettes before each bite then the steak might be to your liking.

If the chicken was boring, the ravioli lacking and the steak an error the mac and cheese was grounds for civil action. Recommended by our server the ďMaineĒ mac is oriecchietti pasta with a four cheese alfredo sauce and (I quote the menu here) tender pieces of Maine lobster. If the governor of Maine ever comes to a conference in Kent and tries this disaster I would bet money there would be a cease and desist order followed by a defamation of character prosecution. The alfredo was harshly bitter and somehow, four cheeses combine to make something taste nothing like cheese. Then there was the lobster. Wet, cold, sour, stringy, disgusting lobster. It was bad enough it might explain the horrible flavor of the cheese sauce by contamination. Steph felt bad not asking for a to-go container having eaten so little; so if you would like to see if Iím exaggerating you can find some in the trash can across the street. Not even the bumblebee sized gnats flying around our table all night long would land on it. They would get about an inch away and turn tail for greener pastures. If youíre looking for something approaching fine dining, leave Kent. Youíre much better off with the burgers, wings, burritos and pizza if you are staying in town.




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