Skip to main content

The Optimist

Hyesoon and I visited The Optimist on Howell Mill Road. The location is a little low-key from the street. Inside it is a very large space and surprisingly warm-feeling given the retro-industrial vibe. The bar is very well stocked. The service was very warm and informative.

As you will see, we went a little crazy. We each had two oysters, one from the East Coast and one from the West Coast. The shells are different---the West Coast shells are rougher---but I didn't notice an obvious taste difference between the two. Both were superb: extremely fresh and tasting of the sea. I liked mine with just a little hot sauce.

We also sampled the grilled octopus. It was amazingly tender given that it was grilled. The flavor was subtle, present but not overpowering.

This is Hyesoon's bass. She said the preparation was a little salty but overall very good.

We had hush puppies for our side dish. They came sprinkled with powdered sugar, something I've never seen before (zeppole yes, hush puppies no). The result was slightly dessertish. I would have preferred to have the pure hush puppy flavor but they were quite good.

My salmon was wonderful. The fish was extremely fresh; the flavor was very salmony but not at all fishy. The sauce combined buttery, a little sour, and just a little heat.

We finished with banana pudding: mini marshmallows on top, Graham cracker crust on the bottom. That thing in the middle is a disc of candied sugar used as a garnish. Not as good as my Mom's banana pudding, but still pretty darn good.

The Optimist on Urbanspoon


  1. Boy, does that all look amazing. I'll be making room in my schedule for the Optimist, now. Thanks!


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Ann Arbor MI: West End Grill

Trev, Jan, and Karem took me to a wonderful evening at West End Grill located, appropriately enough, in the West End. The restaurant still has its old tin ceiling festooned with stained glass chandeliers. I was too hungry to take a picture of our appetizers: crab cakes and bleu cheese tarts. The crab cakes had just a bit of heat to them, something you don't always find in a crab cake but which worked very well. The bleu cheese tarts lived up to their intriguing premise, rich and tangy. This is my caprese salad. The mozzarella, tomato, and basil were all outstanding. The balsamic vinegar had been very well aged, giving it a thick consistency. My main course was tuna, perfectly prepared to a medium well. The tuna left just enough room for a chocolate lava cake paired with decaf coffee. The cake was rich and moist. I kept scraping my plate to be sure I retrieved all of the chocolate.

Pressure Cooker Candied Ginger

I made candied ginger a few years ago. It's not something I would do every day but I had a lot of fun doing it. I recently acquired a pressure cooker and it inspired an interesting idea to me: why not make candied ginger in the pressure cooker? It should be very soft and flavorful. Here is the result. I peeled two large ginger roots, cut them into small cubes, and put them in the pressure cooker with heavily sugared water. The traditional method first boils the ginger in plain water to soften it and then again in sugar water to candy it. The resulting candy was very tender but still with the characteristic ginger texture. It was also sweet without being overpowering. The traditional method leaves a lot of sugar crystallized around the ginger. The pressure cooker gives a much more subtle result. The ginger stays moist even after it cools but you can dry it in the oven at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes. That inspired me to dip it in chocolate. While I was in the b

Miami: Shorty's BBQ

The Widens introduced me to another Miami favorite, Shorty's BBQ. We had three different meats: brisket, ribs, and chicken. All were excellent. I would say the brisket was my favorite, which was was fork tender and moist. Shorty's is best known around town for its piquant sauce. In the photo, the top sauce is a standard red, sweet BBQ sauce.  The bottom container holds Shorty's special BBQ sauce.  It was great---the highlighted spice is, I believe, cumin.  The sauce is of a lighter color than the sweet sauce, so there are other things going on as well; I suspect it has less sugar. I love cumin because it tweaks the palate in a different way than many spices.  I loved this sauce so much I ate it by the spoonful.  Bill and I agreed that this sauce is reminscent of the sauce from Arthur Bryant's in Kansas City.