September 21, 2006

Just Past Campus, A Culinary Delight

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I walked out of the Schwartz Center at 4:30 on Friday afternoon and breathed a sigh of relief: it was finally the weekend. The next two days promised relaxation, sleep, more relaxation, hanging with friends, and, of course, a dinner out. With a restaurant already in mind, I headed back to my apartment to shower and get ready for the upcoming venture. Our destination: The Antlers, situated on 1159 Dryden Road, or up past the Vet School.

Eating out is one of those luxuries one almost always reserves for the weekend. In order to have a truly wonderful restaurant experience, there can be no time constraints and no outside stresses threatening to interrupt the peaceful atmosphere created when sitting with friends around a table in some dimly-lit dining room. It is this quality of restaurants that I especially like, and that’s how I knew, upon entering The Antlers, that the meal to follow would be extremely enjoyable.

After waiting for only ten minutes (a small wait considering we arrived at peak dinner time), my cousin, friend, and I were seated in a very cozy booth that overlooked the entire restaurant. It was a great spot to sit — private enough to have a conversation without another table overhearing and public enough to be able to view the restaurant’s décor, which consisted of many pairs of antlers (how apropos) as well as entire deer heads mounted to the wall. These decorations might sound a bit overwhelming and maybe slightly depressing, but they actually created a pleasant and very homey environment.

O.K., enough about the surroundings and on to the food. My first glance over the menu produced a big problem: there were too many delicious-sounding dishes; how was I to decide? To make matters worse, the waitress described appetizing daily specials as well. I was really in trouble. After about seven minutes, I had knocked off a pasta dish and a chicken sandwich and narrowed the field down to either crab cakes or the oven-roasted haddock, which was the special for that night. Unfortunately, I still had not decided when the waitress re-appeared to take our order, so I did what any upstanding restaurateur would do — I asked her opinion. After a few moments, she suggested the haddock, and I heartily agreed, happy to have finally made up my mind and anxious for my dish to come. My companions ordered the Antlers burger and the London broil steak. Other items on the menu included chicken chardonnay, horseradish crusted salmon, filet mignon, and other variations on chicken, fish, and steak. In addition to the menu items, a sign on the table informed us of the daily specials for the entire week, which included prime rib on Wednesdays and live Maine lobster on Thursdays! We each made a mental note to return on one of these days in order to sample these specials.

As we were waiting for our food to arrive, the waitress brought over garlic bread straight out of the oven. It was warm and delicious, and did not have an overwhelming garlic taste that some garlic breads tend to have — definitely the perfect food to sustain us until our entrees came. After an appropriate amount of waiting time, which was mostly spent admiring the antlers displayed on the wall and discussing the new hockey ticket lottery system, our food was delivered to the table and we quickly dug in.

My first bite brought a smile to my face. The haddock was not overly breaded, so I was able to distinguish the taste of the fish itself, which is mild and not too salty flavor, similar to cod. I was also very pleased to find that it was not too dry, as is the case when fish is overcooked. The side dishes, which included oven-roasted potatoes and coleslaw, were equally delicious, and complemented the fish nicely. My friend and cousin also expressed satisfaction with their meals; the burger was cooked exactly as ordered and the steak was not too chewy and had good flavor. Needless to say, we devoured our food pretty quickly, and, happily, did not feel overly stuffed at the end of the meal.

On the way home, which was only about a five minute drive, I reminisced about the delicious meal I had just eaten. What a perfect way to start off the weekend, I thought, and I couldn’t help but look forward to my next visit to The Antlers. With a fun ambiance and tasty food, The Antlers definitely deserves another trip. Perhaps I’ll get the crab cakes, or the lobster, or the pasta, or…