Relish: The Just OK Dining Experience

Written By Caroline in Reviews

Relish Modern Tapas Tawny Port

A glass of the 20 year tawny port at Relish Modern Tapas

Relish Modern Tapas

5947 Deerfield Blvd, Suite 101
Mason, OH 45040

Rating: 3 out of 5 Plates
Hours: Coming Soon
Price Range: $10-$20 per entrée

Relish Modern Tapas on Urbanspoon

If you aren’t looking for it, you might miss it. Relish Modern Tapas is a hopping restaurant hidden behind the Whole Foods in Deerfield Town Center. The decor in Relish lives up to the name – modern and heavily industrial.

The particular night we chose to go – a Saturday – Relish was jam-packed. Normally I don’t mind a busy restaurant, but it was so loud we had to lean way over the table and practically yell at each other – adding to the noise. I suspect the acoustics are what caused the problem – the one wall in the area we were seated was curved and there is not much decoration on the walls other than metals and a picture or two.

The menu at Relish is about as eclectic as their taste in music: everything from French onion soup and lobster bisque to Thai chicken and chorizo in medjool dates. We had a coupon from Restaurant.com we had ordered, so we splurged and got a ton of different dishes to try.

Relish Modern Tapas Water Glasses

Our water glasses

To begin, I got the trio of soups and Adam had the signature salad. The portions of these soups seemed great, three roughly 3 oz bowls perfect for trying the three different soups which surprisingly worked really well together. The lobster bisque was my favorite, hands down; creamy, a hint of lobster and savory. The cream of asparagus was good, but nothing really fantastic – as was the wild mushroom cream soup.

My only complaint was that three ~3oz bowls for $8 just seems like a bit much for an opener.

The signature salad was $8 as well, but it was a pretty hefty bowl and, I suppose I’ve gotten used to paying about that much for a salad anymore – even if I don’t want to. Flavor wise, the salad was pretty good. The bourbon candied pecans, cranberries and goat cheese were a nice combo.

For a second round we had the empanadas, chicken & chorizo paella, potato spheres and the hummus of the day (which was roasted red pepper hummus). They give you three little empanadas, each about four-five bites large (maybe I just have a big mouth): a chorizo potato, chicken & white cheese and a beef with golden raisin. The chorizo potato was the best, my only complaint being that it wasn’t spicy at all and I’m used to chorizo being spicy. The others weren’t terrible but they weren’t anything special either.

Relish Modern Tapas Soups and Salad

The trio of cream soups and signature salad

Relish Modern Tapas Hummus of the Day

The hummus of the day was roasted red pepper

The paella was downright terrible – a serious let down. It was a lot of rice with roughly half a chicken breast’s worth of dry, flavorless chicken nubbins and two bland “chorizo” sausages.

However, the potato spheres were the highlight of our evening. Garlic and cilantro mashed potatoes, fried and served with wasabi sour cream. I’ve never been one for wasabi, but it had a light punch and the potato spheres dipped in it were great – I just wish they gave you a bit more of the sauce.

Relish Modern Tapas Empanadas

The empanadas were pretty good with the dipping sauce

The hummus and chips were an interesting combination, and were okay. The chips tasted like they were seasoned with lime juice, a bit too much salt and some pepper. It was weird to have the roasted red pepper hummus on top of them, but I kind of liked it in a funky way. Just, Relish, please go easier on that salt.

Relish Modern Tapas Chicken Paella

The chicken paella was actually kind of bland

Relish Modern Tapas Potato Spheres

The dipping sauce made the potato spheres pretty good

Whew. Finally, to the entrees.

We got four entrees: pork belly, chorizo in medjool dates, Thai chicken and beef gazpacho. The pork belly came with seasoned potato slices, mashed potatoes and coleslaw. The pork belly and potato slices were alright, they had decent flavors but they didn’t really stand out. I’m not sure that I understand why there were potato slices and mashed potatoes on the plate, but I’m glad that both were on the plate as the mashed potatoes were bland and had no seasonings or flavor whatsoever. The slaw was the worst offender as it was horribly bitter and tasted like Pine Sol.

Relish Modern Tapas Chorizo in Medjool Dates and Thai Chicken

The chorizo in medjool dates (left) and the Thai chicken (right)

Relish Modern Tapas Pork Belly

The pork belly with potatoes

The chorizo in medjool dates wound up being the favorite of the entrees, but that’s mostly because the other entrees weren’t very good. The bacon wrapped chorizo balls were mildly spicy and sat in a sweet medjool date sauce with fried onion and bread on the side. Again, the dish wasn’t spectacular but it was still one of the better dishes we had all evening. The bread was really good, but just a bit too tough for my liking. It seemed like I had to fight to tear chunks off to dip in the date sauce.

I don’t think I have ever had a dish in which the flavors were as out of harmony as the Thai chicken at Relish was. It had several strong flavors all fighting for attention and it wound up being off-putting. On the plus side, the chicken was very juicy and tender. The Thai chicken had strips of the very salty chips on the side, as well as the same bread as the chorizo.

One of this year’s summer specials was beef gazpacho so we decided to give it a try. The beef, parmesan cheese and pear slices went really well together. The salad in the middle though was painfully bitter – I had to force myself to swallow one bite.

Relish Modern Tapas Beef Gazpacho

The pears and Parmesan went really well with the beef gazpacho

By the time we got to desserts, it was around 9:20p.m. and there was no longer a huge crowd. The only item we had that I’d call fantastic was our $9 glasses of a 20 year-old tawny port. I cannot even begin to describe the heaven that this port was. It was very sweet, smooth and complimented by the oak flavor given to it from the barrel it was aged in. My only complaint is that you get what seems like just a sip of this wine.

Relish Modern Tapas Creme Brulee

The creme brulee was good, but the chocolate was a bit strange

I love crème brûlée, I love chocolate, so the chocolate crème brûlée must be good, right? Well, not really. It tasted like they burnt the sugar on top a bit too much, and I wonder if the chocolate being burnt too might have made it seem worse than it if was just plain crème brûlée. After the crust, the chocolate definitely adds an unusual element to the crème brûlée, but it does it in a good way. The whipped cream and strawberry on the side were a nice touch too.

The butternut walnut rhubarb cake, cut into three pieces and served with different toppings and whipped cream atop each were spongey, nutty and overall pretty good. But the best part of the whole desert was not the cakes, nor the crème brûlée.

Indeed, the best part of the dessert was the cinnamon crackers they give you for free with the bill – to sweeten you up before the punch of the bill. The crackers went really well with the desserts we had picked out, and they were great on their own too. I could have kept eating them forever.

Our bill came out to be a little over $100, but we had a $50 off coupon so before tip it was just shy of $60. There were quite a few leftovers, and judging by flavor some dishes were more worth their cost than others in my opinion. Overall, we had a fun time trying all sorts of different items, it was just unfortunate that some were so bad. The service was really good though. Our server was attentive and kind, and generally very pleasant.

Relish Modern Tapas Butternut Walnut Rhubarb Cake

The butternut walnut rhubarb cakes

Relish Modern Tapas Cinnamon Crackers

The crispy cinnamon wafers were really excellent

Did we miss the mark? Or did we get it right? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Verdict: It’s alright

I’d suggest trying it sometime when you have a coupon (see www.Restaurant.com, some spare cash and a few friends to share with. Also, try not to pick a busy night as it can get too loud to hear your own thoughts. The portions are sometimes a little skimpy for the price, and as far as flavor goes it seems to be a hit or miss. Relish has some good dishes, some okay dishes, some bad dishes, but no great dishes. If you do go, I highly suggest stopping by the Regal Cinemas for the comfiest theatre this side of 275.

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