Archive for January 29th, 2008

Last night we went with Albert & Nancy to a restaurant up in Portsmouth called The Blue Mermaid Island Grill. We chose last night to go because they have team trivia on Mondays, which is run by the same guy (Phil) who runs the Tuesday night trivia at the Mad River Tavern in downtown Amesbury. The MRT is more of a bar, with (sub)standard pub food and a loud atmosphere, so the Blue Mermaid was a welcome respite – the atmosphere was great, although not as fancy as we would have expected (which is a plus, in my book).

The food was delicious, although the appetizer Lindsay and I chose (crispy wontons filled with chicken, jack cheese, herbs & spices, served with a ginger soy dipping sauce) wasn’t what either of us were expecting – it was more like a heavy-on-the-cabbage eggroll. Al and I both had the braised short ribs (if Rachael Ray loved the dish, it has to be good, right?), which were fantastic. It also came with the most delicious cornbread I’ve ever had, especially considering I’m not usually much of a cornbread fan. Lindsay tried the Bimini chicken, which she enjoyed (but I didn’t taste, given my aversion to coconut), and Nancy had mussels and the Blue Mermaid salad. I’m not one for putting fruit in a salad, but apparently the banana really added to the flavor, so she enjoyed it. The four of us split two dessert items, a papaya cheesecake (yummy!) and some sort of coconut thing, which I obviously didn’t partake in. All in all, it was a tasty meal, and a nice change of pace from our usual routine (even though I’m a big fan of sticking with what I know & love).

Okay, not sure how wanting to talk about trivia became a restaurant review, but that’s more than enough about that. On to trivia! I haven’t written about it before, but we go to Tuesday team trivia on a fairly regular basis. We’re limited to five people on a team, so it works out well that not everyone can play all the time – our roster includes me, Lindsay, Albert, Nancy, John, Sue and Mike, although Nancy recently benched herself for “home games” at MRT, since she doesn’t enjoy the food there. It used to be at Uno Chicago Grill (née Pizzeria Uno) in Methuen (about 25 minutes away), but then Phil moved to the Mad River Tavern, which is a lot more convenient a location for us. Although (as previously mentioned) the food leaves a lot to be desired, they do have 1/2 price appetizer specials during trivia – mediocre food at 1/2 price is tolerable (for me, at least), and their chili & cheese nachos are actually pretty good. The place gets packed during trivia night, so it’s very much a loud bar atmosphere. We’re usually off in the corner (hence our very original team name: Team in The Corner), though, so it isn’t that bad. Except for the one time that the only available table was right in front of Phil’s loudspeaker – it was deafening, and now Lindsay makes us go 30-45 minutes before trivia starts to snag our regular table.

Phil does a great job of running trivia…it’s very organized, which I think helps to make it fun. There are four rounds of five questions each in varying categories representing pop culture and general knowledge (geography, science, TV, movies, etc), with the fifth question being some sort of bonus question. You also get four “bid amounts” during each round – for rounds one & two the bid amounts are 1,3,5 & 7, and for rounds three & four the bid amounts are 2,4,6 & 8, and you can only use each bid once. The bonus rounds are either worth 8 points each (rounds 1 & 3) or you can bid from 2-10 (rounds 2 & 4), but you lose half of your bid if you’re wrong. We usually place pretty high, but there are a bunch of other teams that regularly show up to try to take the top prize ($30 gift certificate to MRT) themselves. We have a pretty good track record, since each member of our team has a lot to bring to the table, knowledge-wise: John is our music guru, Nancy is our resident biologist, Lindsay is our pop-culture expert, Albert is our sports enthusiast (who knows more about the Jets and Giants than I ever will, even though he’s a die-hard Pats fan), Sue knows all about eggplant and wienerschnitzel and Mike and I bring up the rear with our love of movies and all things nerd-related. There’s a lot of overlap, so we function at 200% (most of the time). The four of us won last night at Blue Mermaid, and a different four of us won last week at MRT (John instead of Nancy). We’ll be going again to MRT tonight…the lineup is me, Lindsay, John and Sue, so far, with perhaps a pinch hit from Mike. Wish us luck!

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