For seven years, we’d been hearing about how fabulous and ritzy Palomino is… the fancy place downtown where you go if you want to impress your clients. Well, we were thrilled enough with a night out for grown-ups only, so we finally decided to try it.

My initial response? Ehh… The place was packed, which made sense (going out to dinner two weeks before Christmas on a Friday night when you’re attached to a mall is a guarantee that you’ll have company) but didn’t subtract from our service. Our waitress was friendly, busy, and a little absent-minded (she first brought the wrong glass of wine, then charged me for three glasses, then charged me for the most expensive glass on the menu, then finally took off the charge all together). But like I said, she was friendly.

We started off with the brick oven chorizo appetizer, which, according to our waitress, is apparently no longer on the menu (though, according to the website, it still is). Too bad, because it was delicious. It reminded me why I like olive oil and Yukon gold potatoes and meat, all in one warm and cozy bite.

We split the hazlenut and blue cheese salad, which ended up being a good idea, since they were very large. Usually I can put away leafy greens like nobody’s business, but having our own plates might have been too much.

For dinner, Chris totally won. He chose a salmon special. I went for the mahi-mahi (yes, I know it’s yellow list, but I eat it in moderation) en papillote. Note to self: know what you’re ordering before you order it. Uncivilized as I am, I had no idea my dinner would come in a poofy little bag.

I also didn’t realize that, despite the description and promise of Dungeness crab, clam jus, and truffle oil (all of which should have added some kind of flavor) really seemed bland. All I was able to taste was a little fish and a lot of herbs de Provence. Fairly disappointing.

Dessert seemed to save the meal, however. Hello, warm pear bread pudding! Warm and sweet and dense, just like bread pudding should be.

All in all, it was nice to have an evening out, but the food at Palomino just didn’t seem to do justice to its reputation. I don’t know that we’d invest in another trip back (excpet maybe to the early seating, where M‑Th, if you dine between 5:00–6:00pm, a three-course dinner is available for $20).

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