Choosing a place to celebrate our Valentine's Day was easy. We came here for our very first V-Day dinner. This time the eatery had a new name, but the location was right for a Monday (workday) eve. Plus, trying a new restaurant is always adventurous, and we are always up for it. Not to mention that they boast in using local meat and produce. We went to Main Street's Paparazzi.
The place itself is quite unassuming from the outside, and having never been inside after the remodel, we both had an open mind about Paparazzi's fare (which typically doesn't call for high expectations).
Once there, we were promptly greeted and seated - so far so good. The place gave out a feeling of cozy, intimate simplicity. Not too simple, but not fancy, either - just right. We got a booth right next to the kitchen area, which added an interesting bit to our outing. There were four guys in the cooking area, each doing his own thing, yet beautifully working as a team of masters at the occasional command (for the lack of a better term) of the head Chef. Watching these guys reminded me of a music band concert. Each playing a different instrument, but together making an incredible melody.
Thanks to the occasion, Paparazzi was running a special, in addition to their regular menu. We settled on what seemed like the best deal, and it sounded pretty appetizing too!
For the starter choice we went with blackened shrimp and grits in cream sauce. It was DELICIOUS! Not heavy, as some cream sauces tend to get, not too laden with garlic. Grits were perfectly cooked - firm, but not chewy. Generous shavings of fresh parmesan definitely complimented this delightful little appetizer. By now we were falling in love and ready for more.
Even though Paparazzi offers a relatively short wine list, it is quite interesting and inclusive. From Maryhill's Table Red (their "house" wine selection), to Chianti (and some in between) for reds, and several selection of whites, this is sure to satisfy the many "winos" out there.
Beer drinkers would be equally happy with great choices of ales and IPAs, as well as those who'd prefer a typical Corona-type stuff.
Served in a cute goose glass, the Goose Island's Matilda beer is a must-try for any beer connoisseur out there! This was our first time ever hearing of the Goose Island beers, and at the kind suggestion of our darling waitress to give it a try I'm sure glad we did!
Our meal came fairly soon, and plenty of it! It smelled intoxicating, of garlic and fresh butter. Once again, there was not a hint of heaviness. Chicken breast was incredibly moist. Blue cheese mashed potatoes were just to die for! With such a strong flavor that usually comes from blue cheese, I was super pleased to taste the freshness of the potato, which was simply enhanced by the cheese. Yellow squash and zucchini were so perfectly done, that even my squash-hating husband left his plate empty. That, in itself, is a powerful testimony!!! :) The Dijon cream sauce tied all the flavors of the meal like a pretty ribbon on a gift box. What a fantastic combination! Yes, we're in love!
All in all, this was one of the best local meals we've had in a while. Although not quite authentically Italian, Paparazzi serves up a clever and delicate Italian-inspired fare that's fresh, local, creative, and downright exceptionally tasty. My hope is that this little gem gets to stick around, because we will be coming back often.
And as for my sweet, sweet Valentine - thank you, darling, for your gift of sharing your love for good food with me. It's been a heck of a journey so far! I love you.