Happy Birthday, Juli

Eager to use the Noto's Old World Italian Dining Groupon burning a hole in Juli's pocket Juli, Carolyn, and I left the city of Grand Rapids to venture into its township in order to celebrate Juli's birthday. None of us had eaten at Noto's before and all were under the impression that we were embarking on a fine Italian dining experience.

Carolyn's current weight reduction plan limited her to the spinach salad with salmon. My gluten free diet made the leg of lamb an easy choice. Juli, free from dietary restrictions, settled on the risotto with steak.

We let our wines breathe as we waited for our meals to arrive. We weighed the cons and the cons of reception hall motif. We were unnerved by the surprise starter course that came with the leg of lamb dinner. The starter was baked penne with a red overtone and balls of ground beef topped with Parmesan freshly shaken from a can. Because the starter dish was unexpected, it never occurred to us to lose all hope before our meals arrived.

Atmosphere: 1/5: The one point is for cleanliness. The white linen tablecloths were clean. It also appeared that the floor was vacuumed.

Service: 4/5: Jessica served us and she was fantastic. When I ordered the '04 Chianti Rufina she said "no". She wanted to stop me from ordering a wine that should only be ordered by the bottle, not the glass. We would have liked to give the service a 5/5. However, there was a woman in a bright pink t-shirt, cropped jersey knit black pants, and Birkenstocks walking around refilling water glasses while the other servers wore black pants, white dress shirts, and burgundy vests.

Spinach and Salmon Salad: This dish appeared to be a can of shredded salmon served on a bed of unwittingly wilted Fresh Express baby spinach.
Risotto with Steak: This risotto closely resembled a ruddy and runny Spanish rice with asparagus stalks and bits of meat. 

Leg of Lamb: After days under a heat lamp, this hunk of lamb was served with seedy tomato paste, a pile of mashed potatoes, and soggy vegetables.

Technique: 0/5: Arborio would have been an ideal choice for the Risotto. Instead it appeared to be made of long grain white rice which is more well suited for Asian cuisine. The asparagus was severely lacking in asparagus tips. Something other than a pasta dish would have been an adequate accompaniment to the gluten free meal. 

The lamb, potatoes, and seedy tomato paste were overcooked to the tune of forty-five minutes according to our estimates. The lightly sauteed vegetables should have been lightly sauteed rather than boiled in butter.

Taste: 0/5: The food items that were grossly overcooked were left without taste. We regretted tasting the remaining dishes.

Value: 0/5: While we recognize that an $80 bill for three people is reasonable, the quality left us wishing we had spent $15 among us at the Red Lobster.

Overall Experience: 5/5: Despite the uninspired atmosphere and overpriced sub-Perkins quality food, Juli, Carolyn, and I managed to laugh for an hour and a half straight. We came up with the idea for this blog. And we stopped by Kelly's house afterwards for a perfectly baked chocolate cake.


  1. Anonymous8/04/2011

    How would you rate receiving a plate of pasta with your declared gluten-free hunk of lamb??

  2. We'd give that a 0/5 or a 0/any number, really.

  3. Anonymous8/20/2011

    Just new to your blog and I'm thrilled a Grand Rapidian is finally talking about local food! I recently began travel (for work) between Ann Arbor and Chicago for business. Are there any gay/lesbian friendly bars, pubs, or restaurants you could review? I'm always looking for a good companion and meal when staying over in GR. I've heard the town is a tad conservative so any help would be appreciated. Let me know what you think girls...
    Sleepless in East Hills.