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Real Bites of the Rubaiyat

Fri, Jan 20th, 2012
Posted in All Real Bites

Movies often portray really romantic dinners as perfection. Not too crowded, a soft whispered hush coming from the scattered patrons of the establishment as they converse to one another, soft mood lighting giving just the right impression.

Welcome to the Rubaiyat in Decorah, IA.

I can't say I've had countless fine dining experiences, but I've had enough to tell you that the Rubaiyat stands out from its competition. To start the dinner off, I ordered the Red River Lava Cap, a brighter non-dry red wine. Our server was a very polite young woman with a trainee. I would argue that the addition of a trainee actually made my experience more enjoyable due to the simple nature of listening to our server talk to the trainee and explain various techniques, lingo, and pronunciations as set by the restaurant's guidelines. Not only do the owners, Andy and Kim Bonnet, take their business very seriously, but so do their employees as demonstrated by my server and her trainee.

For the soup, I ordered "Great Grandma Vinny's Chicken Noodle Soup." I was told that this is a family recipe from Andy, the restaurant owner and chef. The soup had liberal amounts of very fresh chicken, exactly how chicken noodle soup should be.

The main course of Rum Plum Pheasant, consisted of pheasant basted in dark rum, brown sugar sauce, plums, bourbon brown sugar sweet potatoes, sliced carrots and broccoli, everything sprinkled with poppy seeds. I'm not exactly sure what brown sugar sauce contains other than brown sugar, but wow, what a perfect complement for everything on the plate. The plums were sliced in halves, like the carrots, and contained just the right amount of sweetness absorbed from the brown sugar sauce. Now, I'm not usually a fan of sweet potatoes, but these were not only delicious but very flavorful. The sweetness of the potatoes and the brown sugar sauce combined was my choice for clearing my taste buds so I could fully enjoy anything else at the table as if it were the first bite.

"Pheasants (or Phasianinae) refer to any member of the subfamily of Phasianidae in the order Galliformes." This was how my brain used to process the word pheasant. It has now been replaced with: "Pheasants (or Phasianinae) are delicious. Really delicious. So delicious, in fact, that it should be served with a label that warns the patron of an oncoming acid reflux attack within the hour stemming from the uncontrollable and immediate desire to rapidly consume the entire entrée.

The pheasant was, undoubtedly, the heart of the meal, perfectly cooked and golden brown. The plums were initially served on top of the pheasant so the plum flavor would gently soak into the meat, giving a beautiful reminder of plum for each bite of pheasant.

For dessert, I had a slice of pumpkin, cranberry, and walnut pie. The Rubaiyat's desserts are no exception from Andy and Kim's keen eye for great food. I can say, undoubtedly, it was the best piece of pie in recent memory.

Publisher's Note: You may have noticed that this Real Bites feature was written by Tyler Grundman, a friend and co-worker with SMG Web Design. I asked Tyler to be my substitute for this week's Real Bites segment with hopes he would identify a possible restaurant for a future wedding proposal to his girlfriend, Alissa Shannon. No pressure, Tyler.

~ Jason Sethre

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