May 24, 2008

The Evening Star Cafe - What a Disappointment

My friend and I were out enjoying today's beautiful weather, and when we were stumped on a place for dinner, I suddenly remembered the Evening Star Cafe in Alexandria. I'd always wanted to try it, and I'd heard great things about it, and now I'm just not so sure why.

We got in before the dinner rush and sat in a booth - it's a small place with booths lining the left and right walls as you walk in, and there are about 7 tables cleverly arranged in the middle with bold blue chairs that look comfortable. Our server was less than friendly, but I tried to ignore it in my excitement for what was to come. We shared the Almond-Crusted Brie, which was good, although not what I had imagined. Instead of the usual sliced almonds on the outside of the baked brie, the almonds were crushed into crumbs, and the brie was fried in the almondcrumbs. It was served with sliced granny smith apple which provided a nice crisp contrast to the fried brie, and truffle honey, of which I only saw literally one drop. A more generous drizzle of the delicious honey would have been wonderful.
For my entree I had "Pan Seared Salmon Filet" with "Sprout & Bacon Hash, Fingerling Potatoes, Pernod Sauce, Fig Essence." It was...interesting. Well not really, but what are you supposed to say? The salmon was delicious and perfectly cooked, with a tasty crust from the saute pan. But there were just too many flavors in this dish. The salmon sat atop the bacon and brussels sprouts hash which was too salty. On top of the salmon was sliced fennel ? and sliced raw red onion. The pernod sauce was totally overpowered when mixed with the hash or the salmon. It was just too complicated, and therefore hard to enjoy any one simple flavor.

My co-diner had the only vegetarian entree, Truffle-Ricotta Ravioli in a cream sauce with English peas and mushrooms. It was tasty, the peas fresh and not mushy, the mushrooms almost overcooked but not, and the pasta was al dente. I couldn't taste any truffle though.

Maybe it was the lackluster service, or too many competing flavors in the salmon, but I won't be going back here any time soon. The ladies bathroom was interesting - just for one person, but when you open the door there's a wicker screen separating the toilet from the sink area (and the door) so you're semi-protected if someone accidentally barges in on you. Nice soap, nice towel dispenser.

Back after my hiatus

I took the last several months off from this blog to, well, practice piano and finish another recital. It's done, and now I hope to get back into the swing of things on the food front.

Sadly, I never wrote my review of the 4th and final restaurant I visited during Restaurant Week 2008: Butterfield 9. Suffice it to say that I loved it. From the hostess' friendly greeting to the minimalist, open and airy decor, to the food, it was just an enjoyable meal. For my main course I had the Duck Leg Confit Salad, with arugula, winter squash, caramelized shallot, and pomegranate (no I don't remember these things - I kept the menu) and it was just delicious. I loved the contrast that the pomegranate seeds provided. I'm looking forward to my next meal there, and I plan to write about it before it's forgotten.