Thursday, April 07, 2016

Meals I Have Enjoyed of Late

Clockwise from far left: Colette menu and frothy drink; Limoncello granita oysters at Clementine; Gnocchi with crab and saffron sauce, topped with fried arugula at Cafe Gia; Bone broth at The Food Market; Doughnuts at Parts and Labor.
For the past two months, I've been collecting pictures (and memories) of restaurants around town, planning to write about each of them when I have time to do them justice.

Last week, my computer started slowly dying, so I got a new one. Though I thought I transferred all my photos from the old computer to the new one, turns out, I didn't. The thought of firing up the old laptop right now, just to find those pictures, fills me with dread. But I did take all of this as a sign that I need to stop procrastinating and start writing.

So...past two months, some meals I have loved (illustrated by pics I shared on Facebook and Instagram):

Win-Ryn Pop-Up at Clementine
Way back in January, Winston, Cristin and Ryn, all from Clementine, decided to host a pop-up dinner in the old restaurant space. The original dinner was scheduled for the night of that huge blizzard. Then a makeup date, slated for a week later, also had to be rescheduled, since there was no parking. And then, when the stars semi-aligned and people got into the restaurant, things were a little crazy and hectic. We had a fun night, with good food, but it was really hectic.

But after all of that, they decided to throw another dinner - this one the weekend of Valentine's Day. Cooper and I went, just the two of us. the Friday of that weekend, and we had such a spectacular meal. Gorgeous beet bisque with lump crab. Avocado and pickled watermelon "ceviche." Rabbit cassoulet (which took us way back, to the rabbit pot pie that used to be on the Clem menu...and that Dixon was in love with when he was just a toddler). Duck in a sauce of blood orange and ginger. Prigel ice cream. Charlottetown panna cotta.

Our favorite dish of that night was the oysters with limoncello granita. Totally simple, but crazy good. The kind of thing you taste, then can't figure out why nobody has ever fed you that before because it makes so much sense.

Just being back at Clementine felt great. I wish we could do that every night.

Private Kitchen at The Food Market
The week after Valentine's Day, I had the very exciting opportunity to have dinner in The Private Kitchen at The Food Market. I was with a fun group of people who love food - which is the best way to eat every meal - and it was a blast.

The Private Kitchen is in the basement of the restaurant. The team there used to use it as a prep kitchen, but it's recently been turned into a space for private events - dinners for up to 12 guests.

It's a cute space and still a working kitchen - two chefs (in our case, Chad and Todd) cook and plate your meals for you right there.

Because it's The Food Market, it should be no surprise that our dinner was awesome. The photo above was one of the standouts - chicken broth with prosciutto and housemade pasta, among other things. It was cold outside, cozy inside and the soup was so well-seasoned. Just right all around.

After that dinner, all I wanted to do was think of a reason to throw a dinner party in that space. So fun, so good.

Brunch at Parts and Labor
Earlier this year, Parts and Labor joined big sister Woodberry Kitchen on the Bmore brunch scene. Really, I can't believe that didn't happen sooner. PL is the kind of place that's made for brunch. Great location. Good, straightforward food. Butcher shop so you can shop for dinner on your way out. It's a no-brainer.

In late February, I met Xani and Erin there to eat, catch up on our lives and to talk about how much we love parties and how hosting them is the best. (Seriously, when we see each other, that's all we can talk about. Parties.)

Because it's Parts and Labor, I couldn't help but order's like I'm compelled. It never disappoints. Also, grits. Also, eggs. And of course, because you can't start a Foodshed restaurant group brunch without sweet breakfast apps, we had doughnuts.

Simple food, really. But totally good. The Bloody I had...a spicy one...was also delightful. As was, of course, the company.

Colette is getting all kinds of buzz these days. The Station North restaurant, which is from the same crew as Bottega, is racking up good reviews for its charming atmosphere and totally good food. It deserves the love.

Cooper and I went on a kind of gross Wednesday in early March, two or three weeks after they opened, and it was already packed. Like Bottega, it's a smallish space that's very cute. Unlike Bottega, which is an Italian BYOB, Colette is French - and it feels completely Parisian, in the best way - and it has a liquor license.

Just this week, they started offering a couple cocktails on tap. They weren't available when we visited, but we did love our drinks - a Gin Fizz for Cooper and a Bee's Knees for me. Old school and well-made, both.

I also really, really loved the goat cheese beignet appetizer. I could've eaten about 40 of them, they were so good. Everything we ate was nice, but those were just fantastic. Airy and tangy - and a perfect hors d'oeuvres, since they whetted our appetites, but didn't fill us up.

Cafe Gia
Last Sunday, I dragged Cooper and Dixon downtown to go to Light City (they complained,but in the end, they both loved it and were happy I made them leave the basement to go). Before we headed over to the festival, we had an early dinner at Cafe Gia in Little Italy.

I had been to Pane e Vino, the wine bar attached to the restaurant, but never to Cafe Gia itself. It's so cute - and our food was great. Cooper and I both had specials - his a lamb dish and mine gnocchi in a creamy-ish sauce with saffron and crab and fried arugula. Interesting and really nicely done.

We also had a lovely glass of limoncello after dinner (Cooper and I did, I mean, while Dixon was housing Nutella bread pudding). It put us in exactly the right frame of mind for a little stroll down to the harbor to check out the lights.

Which we also loved...even if they weren't edible.

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