Ten days ago, one of favorite restaurants -- Butch's Drydock in Holland MI -- sent out one of their email fliers. It explained that they were changing their summer menu, removing the salmon tartare appetizer and the pork entree, replacing them with a pair of lamb lollipops and a grilled half rack of lamb with blueberry coulis and risotto, respectively. Why point this out? (a) Dangling lamb dishes in front of Mrs. Dr. Phil is a sure way to require a trip to Holland and (b) it was Mrs. Dr. Phil's birthday this past week, so a trip to Butch's was already in order. (grin)
Perhaps it was the pleasant summer weekend weather, warm but not brutal. Or the fact that the West Michigan economy is in better shape this summer than in 2010. Maybe it's just one last enjoyable swansong before the conservative caucus in Congress derails the U.S. and world economies by either bringing on the default in order to "punish" the President of the United States or shredding every last bit of dignity, respect and Christian charity from the budget to reward the rich, wealthy and corporate with tax breaks they neither deserve nor shown they can use previous windfalls to create any jobs. (ahem)
But the place was packed. Couldn't even get a reservation until 7:15pm. And though we asked for the dining room when we made the reservation, we ended up at table 12. Which actually turned out to be kindof fun. No, not the heavy wooden chairs and white tablecloths. But tucked in the boundary between the lunch and dinner sides of the restaurant, we could hear all the happy diners and imbibers in the "noisy" room and out on the deck, yet sequestered just enough not to be in the middle of the hubbub and still able to carry on a normal conversation. (grin)
And yes, the food was fabulous and the service excellent as always. Butch recognized us and briefly said hello and I complimented him on having a full house. He said it was hectic and frantic for the staff and kitchen, but that all his guests seemed to be having a great time, so he was pretty happy. I later told our server to let him know that his email advertising "worked", since we'd come in specially for the lamb.
Actually, we had: Pan-fried falafel rounds with tahini sauce and fresh tzatziki sauce. Mrs. Dr. Phil had the half rack of lamb, rare. I had the Gorgonzola Caesar salad -- Fresh romaine lettuce with shaved asiago, roasted yellow tomatoes, and toasted pine nuts; served with housemade gorgonzola caesar dressing -- and the Portabella and spinach filled manicotti with a grilled zucchini marinara sauce and focaccia crostini. Dessert was an Irish chocolate biscuit/cake, incredibly dense and took some effort to break apart with a fork, but well worth it, and paired that with a blueberry/raspberry parfait. Mmmmm...
We'd originally thought to go see Captain America and then dinner, but the showtimes were inconvenient. It was just after 9pm when we got back to the Bravada, and I remembered that there was a 9-something show. So we bopped down to the Holland 7 theatre and sure enough, there was a 9:40pm 2D showing -- just what we wanted.
Captain America: The First Avenger 2D [PG-13]
Holland 7 Theatre #2, 9:40pm, 2×$8.75
The opening of Captain America is not in World War II, where the majority of the movie takes place, but in modern times and with a scene out of the beginning of The Thing from Another World. Sigh. Sorry, I'm a sucker for wrapper stories. No wonder I put flashbacks in my writing.
This is a big movie, with big sets worthy of James Bond extravaganzas, but much more realistic and workmanlike. These are places where Things happen. Big Things. But it would all be for naught if we didn't have a cast to hold it up. And do we have a cast. Tommy Lee Jones chews up the scenery as he is wont to do. Hugo Weaving -- Guten morgan, Herr Anderson -- is "their" evil German genius, the Red Skull, except he is really working for himself. And that's not good. Cue the Wagnerian music. Stanley Tucci is wonderfully understated as "our" German genius scientist, who will transform the new guy into Captain America. Have a drink. Howard Stark, Tony Stark's dad, is our home grown genius -- I love all the 1940s electronics prominently featuring their Stark Enterprises logo. The new guy makes a good Captain America. Competent. But Hayley Atwell is stunning in WW II era hair, makeup and that trim British women's officer uniform. And competent as well.
But we don't make it easy for Captain America to become, well, Captain America. All he wants to do is get into the Army and serve his country. But all he has is spunk. And heart. And a few clever smarts. After he becomes Captain America, his secret is almost immediately revealed. Rather than use him as a super solider, Captain America becomes a war bonds salesman. Until he takes on the Nazi, er the Hydra, superweapons himself and frees a bunch of Allied soldiers, including his best friend. Then he's on an anti-Hydra campaign, with some of his new friends, who have more than a passing resemblance to the ensemble cast from Hogan's Heroes.
BTW, the local reviewer mentioned that the new guy's face was placed on the weakling's body, and that in the 3D version, his face seems to hover in front of the head -- not a good 3D implementation. Which is why we specifically went for the 2D version.
I have some issues with the superweapons and some of their stylings. It never made sense to me in Star Trek that a phaser blast could vaporize the perfect outline of a person without any collateral damage -- and such weapons still don't make sense. And Hydra's storm troopers are as bad as the Imperial storm troopers in Star Wars, there may be a lot of the faceless warriors, but they go down easy. Still, this is escapist summer fare, and it didn't bother me all that much, once you buy into the battery of the gods and the "unobtainium" that C.A.'s shield is made of.
Unless you aren't up on either current Marvel movie projects or comic book lore, then it's no secret that this a setup to next summer's The Avengers. So it's no surprise that Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury shows up at the end. But it's fun.
At the end of the credits, I assumed we'd get a Dr. Phil Special, as there'd been important teaser clues at the end of the most recent Hulk and Iron Man movies. (grin) And not only was I right, there's a full blown trailer for May of 2012... (big grin)
Now... my question is... after seeing this movie... who is Tony Stark's mother? Hmmm? (questioning-grin) Yeah, yeah, I know that Wikipedia says his mom is Maria Stark, but if I were writing things, I'd update that part. (double-evil-grin)
Other Trailers: I passed on the whole Smurf phenomenon growing up. Frankly, most of what I know about the Smurfs comes from the marvelous skewering they go on several episodes of Robot Chicken. I may not pay money to see this movie, but dammit it looks entertaining. As does the next installment of Mission: Impossible. Though Tom Cruise's star may have fallen, he had to be in this one -- the fourth? But... I am surprised that this particular trailer hasn't been pulled in view of the Norway bomber/massacre. And I have a friend who has already objected to any version of John Carter of Mars where Dejah Thoris wears anything substantial, but that's Disney for you. On the other hand, JCM has Willem Dafoe in it. I think the release date is in March 2012.
Next weekend? Cowboys & Aliens. Yee-haw!