Two sets of friends had recommended Crisp, a place we’d kind of heard about but not yet tried. Seems like it’s particularly popular for those who live in Shady Acres (just north of the Heights), kind of a neighborhood joint that tries, but somewhat misses, to turn out more than bar food. Definitely a dining establishment, reservations are required. And, of course, there’s valet parking if you can’t find something on the street.
We aren’t typically too critical of limited wines by the glass but, for a place that touts its wine selection, the offerings are unimpressive. We wished we’d understood the enomatic, vending machine style, higher quality wine offerings (1 oz, 3 oz, and 5 oz pours) when we’d started our meal as we weren’t inclined to purchase the required “tasting card” (available in varying monetary denominations; we’re told most people start with $20) when one of us just wanted one more glass of wine. There’s a large beer menu. No hard alcohol.
We started with the mussels, generously served in a wine-based broth (no cream) that needed some additional flavor, perhaps more of the billed parsley pesto or anchovy butter. The cheeseburger was the best thing we tried, although the requested medium rare came out as close to medium well. (After mentioning this to our waitress — we didn’t send it back — the manager came over and apologized, taking 1/2 off the price.) The side of truffle fries, touted by the waitress, were neither hot or crispy. The seared scallops were generously served and perfectly cooked (slightly underseasoned), but sat on a bed of short rib risotto that, like the mussels, needed an additional spark of flavor. Maybe some salt, some herb.
If we lived in the neighborhood, we’d definitely be back as perhaps we didn’t order the right things. We’d try the enomatic wine service, the pizza, and the huge meatballs and spaghetti ordered by everyone at the table sitting next to us. Not living nearby, however, means it may be a while before we get back.
Pretty much everything the Clark Cooper restaurant group does turns to gold, and it appears Punk’s is no exception. Located right next to the group’s Coppa Osteria on Morningside in the new Rice Village mixed use complex, Punk’s is a casual, family friendly spot with the usual suspects of comfort food offerings.
We had a reservation for 7:00 on a recent Saturday evening. We arrived about a half hour early and were asked to wait at the bar, where we ended up dining since the hostess never came back for us. (And we didn’t appreciate being reported to Open Table as a “no show.”) No real harm, as the bar was a fun place to dine. Good selection of bourbon and well made classic cocktails. Slightly harried servers (as reflected in a mistaken order).
We started with the deep fried black eyed peas, a tasty riff on Coppa’s fried chickpeas. We polished those little gems off right quick. The pimento cheese (with Ritz crackers) was also really good. While we ordered the shrimp and oyster po’boy, we got just fried shrimp (no oysters), although copiously served and sided with a bag of potato chips. It was the better of our two main dishes as we regret to inform that we weren’t as impressed with the touted fried chicken. Certainly, it tasted very good, but it didn’t knock our socks off. (Anyone for a trip to Barbecue Inn?) On the other hand, the red eye gravy served on the mashed potatoes was unique and very well done, and we couldn’t criticize the sides of a biscuit and a deviled egg. We also tried the mac ‘n cheese, a traditional version that reminded us a lot of Kraft’s boxed offering (the kind with the foil packet of cheese sauce, not the powder variety). That’s not really a criticism since who doesn’t like Kraft’s.
Punk’s is close to where we live, and we’ll certainly be back to try more. Let’s see how the open air environment works as the days get hotter.