Sunday, August 23, 2009

Of Crab, Cracks, Cocktails and Cops

Being the unabashed neighborhood supporter that I am, Plan A for Saturday night was to introduce my favorite restaurant owner to J-Ward's newest eatery, The Belvidere at Broad.

I'd eaten there just last weekend and enjoyed everything about the experience, so it was time to share.

As an added bonus, she brought her brother to add his understated charm to the evening .

When we arrived at 8, we had only to wait a few minutes to score three bar stools front and center.

Once again the lovely Julie, one of the owners, attentively welcomed us, even remembering my name.

I was flattered.

We made our wine selections and perused the menu.

The place was positively hopping, so we settled in for some imbibing, in no rush to eat.

Julie indicated that they were much busier than anticipated and that it might be a bit longer than usual for our food.

As we reminded her, it was prime time on Saturday night and, as the new place everyone was dying to try out, we weren't expecting the food to appear in record time.

Unfortunately we heard one guy whining about the delay.

Come on, fella, give a new place a break.

If you wanted fast food, perhaps you should go to a place with mediocre food.

None of us could resist the crab cakes and justifiably so because the lumps of jumbo back fin were huge (and I say that as a person who grew up in Maryland eating crab every chance I got, so I know of what I speak).

Lightly bound and oh-so well seasoned, these crab cakes were delicious in every possible way.

I had begun with a simple salad full of the usual suspects and tasting fresh and fine dressed in balsamic vinaigrette.

My friend commented that the menu reads far less compelling than the actual food, which was creative and extremely well executed.

Just as our food arrived, the couple sitting next to us leaned over and said to me, "Weren't you our neighbor?"

Turns out these were the people who lived across the street from me for 2 1/2 years, until I moved unexpectedly in March.

They'd recognized me immediately and wanted the scoop on my new place and to dish about my split.

It turned into an unexpectedly hilarious roast, with them over-sharing their opinions and then soliciting my attendance at their upcoming party.

It's so rewarding when the universe offers up an unexpected treat like that, so I enjoyed every minute of it.

Part B of our plan was heading to a speakeasy in the Bottom for cocktails and more conversation.

I already knew the mixologist and his fanatic attention to the smallest minutiae of mixing drinks, having discussed it all with him there before, but my friends were unprepared for how amazing their drinks were.

When one drinks a spirit on ice and sans mixer, as I do, the ice is key; mine each had just one slow-melting cube that never watered down the beauty of the alcohol.


Multiple cocktails later, we realized it was well after 1 and some of us had to work brunch the next day (obviously not me), so we reluctantly decided to get out of the Bottom before the mass exodus when the clubs closed.

Leaving the smokey environs of the speakeasy and walking out into the much cooler night air, we immediately felt the presence everywhere of cops and their cars blocking streets.

As we walked by one open-front bar, we heard some idiot with a mic making a snide comment about cops just as two men in blue walked by the place.

No matter. I think all three of us felt that it had been a practically perfect evening.

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