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Kunkel’s Seafood and Steakhouse Gastric Bypass Restaurant Review

Opened in June, 2005, Kunkel’s Seafood and Steakhouse restaurant is like finding the pearl in the oyster from the looks of it.  Standing alone at the end of a mostly abandoned strip of stores who’s primary resident is Tony Soprano’s Pizza, Kunkel’s looks like a charming little restaurant that you would find in a much more upscale neighborhood.  When you walk inside, you really are transformed into what you might think of when you think of a dinner club – rich woods, warm colors, roaring fireplaces.  Everything from the beautiful mahogany bar to the lovely yet subtle paintings on the wall gives you a feeling of warm and cozy.

Back in September, we ate at Kunkel’s for my birthday.  At the time, we found service to be a bit lacking and the food needing a heavy hand with the salt and pepper shakers.  That was okay.  The atmosphere was lovely, we were out of the house without our children, and we had a nice, leisurely meal that lasted nearly 2 hours. 

When we were trying to decide where to eat on this particular evening in February, 2006, Jim decided he wanted to go back to Kunkel’s.  It was, afterall, much cooler now, so those roaring fireplaces would be roaring and making the place even more comfortable.  We arrived just after 8 on a Thursday evening.  The bar had a couple of patrons seated there, but the restaurant was virtually empty.  There was one couple just finishing their meal, another couple close to finishing, and one couple who must have arrived shortly before we did.  By the end of the night it was just Jim and I, leaving at about 9:20.  We were seated immediately, and after a couple minutes of a wait, our waiter came over to introduce himself and describe the specials.  Jim interrupted him and ordered drinks right away (It should be noted here that Kunkel’s is a BYOB restaurant).  Another few minutes passed, and he came back with the drinks, then gave us the list of specials.  We placed our order, and after some confusion with the clams Jim ordered, a large plate of a dozen top stone clams was delivered to the table. 

I want to mention that when we were here last, they spoke of the awesome raw bar that they would be putting up at the front of the restaurant.  I think one of the reasons Jim wanted to go here was because of the raw bar, that would surely have been up and functioning by now.  Well, the waiter explained that the raw bar was closed because of the smell and because it was just easier for them to open the seafood in the kitchen.  That was disappointing.  Jim had not really looked at the raw bar options, so he placed an order for “cherrystones” – meaning clams.  Our waiter finished taking our order and said, “I’ll be right back with your oysters.”   I waited patiently to see if that was just a mix up in vocabulary, but a minute later, he came back and told Jim which kinds of oysters they had, since they did not have cherrystone oysters.  Jim told him they were clams, so the guy set off again.  I heard someone giving him a lesson on clams and clam sizes, and he came back yet again to let Jim know that they had no cherrystones, only little necks and top necks.  Jim settled on the top necks, and eventually, they showed up.

I do not eat clams, but I did order a salad, which Jim did not.  It would have been nice if the waiter had brought my salad while Jim was eating his clams, but perhaps he thought we would share the clams.  After the clam plate was cleared away, he brought our soup.  Jim ordered the winter vegetable soup and I ordered the crab soup.  I only took a bite of Jim’s vegetable soup, but was completely unimpressed.  The crab soup, however, was a huge disappointment.  The broth was tomato based, but there was so little crab in the soup that there was absolutely no crab flavor.  There was a ton of corn in it, so most of what I tasted was the corn.  In addition to lacking crab flavor, the soup was terribly bland, and I was grateful for the salt and pepper shakers to add my own bit of spices. 

About mid-way through my cup of soup, my salad arrived.  It was a mixed green salad and I ordered the poppy seed dressing.  The dressing is essentially honey mustard dressing with poppy seeds in it.  It had a nice flavor, but I am a big salad dressing lover.  The tiny portion that was served in a cup next to the salad barely covered the top layer of greens and one or two of the grape tomatoes.  The rest of my salad, I ate dry 🙁  

Next up, the entrees.  I have to say, the menu here, although it calls itself a seafood and steak house, is rather limited in both options.  Jim asked me several times to check the menu for a broiled seafood platter or something more than just one type of fish.  I could find nothing.  He settled instead for one of the pasta dishes – billed as spaghetti with lump crabmeat.  I ordered the chorizo encrusted Mahi-Mahi, which was served with greens and chipotle sweet potatoes.  Jim’s “spaghetti” turned out to be more of an angel hair pasta, and the thin tomato sauce, which seemed to have been mixed in with the pasta, had just a hint of crabmeat.  There were definitely no “lumps” of crabmeat – more like strings of crabmeat mixed in.  The biggest pieces of anything we found were a few pieces of sliced garlic, which really were the only flavor powerful in the dish.

The Mahi-Mahi was a bit of a mixed bag.  The fish itself tasted fine – if a bit bland.  The problem was, as soon as the fork was set to it, the chorizo crust crumbled and fell apart on the plate.  You had to scoop up the fish, then scoop up some of the chorizo to get both flavors together.  And can I just say, continuing on with the bland theme of the evening, I have never had a more mild chorizo in my life.  I am not a spicy food lover, but I don’t mind a little kick to things.  I enjoy a nice chorizo mixed in with seafood, rice, pasta, but this had literally no true flavor.  The mashed sweet potato did have a bite from the chipotle peppers – almost too much for me.  Again, not being a lover of hot and spicy foods, I thought the peppers in this dish over powered the sweet potato.  But, knowing that lack of flavor was one of the problems we encountered on our last meal here, I never expected there to be as much heat in the potatoes as there was.

That brings me to the greens – the highlight of the evening.  To use an old Southern saying, the greens were so good, they made you wanna slap yo’ momma!!   They were smokey and delicious, and I could have eaten a whole plate of just those and left the fish and potatoes behind.  YUMMY. 

Because we were enjoying being in each other’s company, we took a chance on dessert.  We ordered the caramel apple and pumpkin strudle.  The strudle was almost egg roll in shape and was cut into two generous pieces.  It was served drizzled with caramel and next to a small scoop of a maple ice cream.  Oh man, the ice cream was so good – and served topped with a few sugar coated nuts.  The strudel was okay – I only tasted one bite of apple in the half I ate, and the rest was basically a pumpkin pie filling.  I’m not sure I like warm pumpkin pie, but when you took a bite of the strudel with the cold ice cream, it was very good.  The ice cream was the star on this plate.

Service – well, considering the fact that we were the only table our waiter had, it was awful.  Our drinks were never refilled in the nearly hour and a half that we were there until we ordered dessert and asked for them to be filled.  During the whole time, our waiter only came over once to see how everything was.  Dirty plates were left there too long, and when dinner was served, I had to clear away my salad dish myself, even though it had been sitting empty for quite some time. 

It really is a shame that such a beautiful restaurant is so disappointing.  You really want to love the food here, because you love the atmosphere.  I am sorry to say we won’t be back – and I mean that.  I love the cozy, warm ambience the restaurant has, I just don’t love the food.  And since for two of us to dine, without alcohol, it cost nearly $90, I would have to LOVE the food to go back.

Chasing the Dead

I’m a big fan of mediums/psychics/anyone who can tell me what is going on with those people who have gone before me.  I feel sometimes like I am on a hunt to track down my sister, my dad, my grandparents, and I know I won’t find them without the help of an over priced snake oil salesman.

But some of these people have real gifts.  I know there are skeptics who will debunk everything, but even if what they tell you is not real, there is a feeling you get when you THINK you might have heard from someone you loved and lost that replaces the benefit of any drug.

My favorite is John Edward.  Not only is he oh so cute and so incredibly real and down to earth, but I believe he honestly has a gift.  I have seen him live three times, but each time, I was in a large audience with little or no chance of being read.  I need to save my money and go to a gallery type setting which is a lot more money to be in his presence with a lot fewer people.

But anyway, I got an email saying he was appearing on a taping of the new Naomi Judd show, and it was a 40 person audience, so when the tickets were still available when I contacted the studio, I jumped on them.  I took Ann with me, excited to think she really had a shot at hearing from my dad with such a little audience.  Well, the taping was to begin at 12, we didn’t get in there until after 1, we were out just after 3, and there were no readings done at all 🙁   John talked about his new book and how important the rosary is – something that my dad might say himself – but he had to leave immediately after taping his segment.  It was so disappointing, and I really want to find tickets to one of those small gallery sessions now.  $175 a piece!   I guess I’ll still be chasing for a while.

Almost Five

It seems like just a few minutes ago we were pulling up to our South Florida apartment with our brand new, 7 pound 6 ounce Eilis, wrapped in a bili-blanket due to her jaundice, tiny and wrinkly, an odd shade of yellowish red.  It was a scary time for me – and a bit of a sad time.  My parents were in New Jersey, and no one was there for her arrival.  After 36 hours of labor and a couple of failed attempts at an epidural, I was wheeled into the OR for a c-section at 2 AM on the morning of February 15th.  At 2:36 AM, she made her arrival, wiggly and crying.  I spent more than 9 years waiting for her to arrive – much longer than the 36 hours or the 9 months.  She was the realization of a dream.

I have to admit, there have been times when it feels like the dream is a nightmare.  Eilis is strong willed, determined, stubborn, headstrong – all the things I so want her to be when she grows up.  There are days when I am so grateful for those characteristics, and I imagine her being successful in the business field or as a trial attorney.  There will be no clawing her way to the top – Eilis will trample right over people and thumb her nose at them on the way through.  Of course, these characteristics make it a challenge to be her parent.  But there are days when she rewards me with such wonderful gifts – a few minutes of a cuddle, an I love you, a cup of imaginary tea.  I know I might have three or four days in a row where she’s wearing me down, but on the fifth day, she’ll climb into my lap to cuddle and ask for a story to be read to her.  It’s a gift she has to help the memories of the written on walls, the emptied out dresser drawers, the ball thrown at her sister fade that much quicker.

In just five days, Eilis will be five.  It’s been a roller coaster ride from day one.  Some of the hills are pretty steep to climb, but once you get to the top, the thrills that await you cause your heart to race, your stomach to churn, your eyes to squint, and your whole being feels awake and alive.  I love that feeling.  I love this kid.

So Much Time, So Little to Do – Scratch that, Reverse

There never seem to be enough hours in a day!   Just driving Brighid and Eilis back and forth to school takes up a good bit of my time, but then when you put in all the other stuff that has to get done – WHEW.  I’ve been so blessed in that Jim has decided we should keep the housekeeper for a while longer – at least until the summer, when I will have more free time.  He also has taken over washing the laundry.  He won’t fold anything, but he hangs up the stuff that needs to be hung, and for that I am extremely grateful.  Now if only I could twitch my nose and have the socks sort themselves out automatically…

Eilis’ birthday party is in just three days, and I haven’t done the shopping or decorating yet.  I plan to start that tonight.  She’ll be excited to see her birthday coming together – it’s a great age.  Everything is so magical at this age.

I just printed the pictures that I’ll use on Grace’s invitations, and I love them.  They look so cute, and the whole rubber ducky theme will come together so beautifully.

Brighid may get to go to dance camp after all this summer.  Her dance camp director emailed me and told me she could still come – we just have to work out the fine details.  That would be so cool – she loves going and loves the people there.  They’ve become an extended family to her, and it would really be sad for her to miss them.

Okay, that little time thing is creeping in and I’ve got to get busy!

Granuaile at 9 Months

Well, we’ve been to see the nurse practitioner, who pronounced our baby girl “Absolutely perfect!”   Of course, they pronounce most babies, that way, but it always does boost your ego to hear that your child is perfect.

She weighs in at a very acceptable 18.1 pounds.  That puts her at about the 50th percentile for weight.  She’s had a bit of a growth spurt and is now 27 inches tall – or long, depending how you look at her 🙂   That also puts her right down the middle.  They did not give me head numbers, but she is above the 25th percentile, so that’s all I wanted to hear.

She had to give blood and I was told she has a little iron deficiency – she should be at 10.5 and she is at 10.1.  They instructed me to make sure I am using iron fortified formula, which I am, and said I could use vitamin drops.  If you have ever tried to get those vitamin drops into a baby, you’ll understand why we’re going to see how we do at the 12 month visit.  She also got her last hepatitis B shot.  She was not a happy camper, although really, she started crying and complaining as soon as we got into the treatment room, so the shot and the blood test really just proved to her she was right to be upset from the start.

She waves bye-bye, says MaMa, Dada, and bye-bye; she gives kisses, and dances like a little disco queen.  She loves music.  I am starting her in a Kindermusik class on Monday night.  I hope she loves it – or at least loves the other children.