Thursday, December 17, 2009

Partying in the Ward. Carbing Up at Bouchon

'Tis the holiday season when more and more nights involve multiple events, which has been the case for me the last two nights. I'm not complaining; staying busy distracts me from over-thinking my life 24/7.

The Jackson Ward Neighborhood Association was having their annual Christmas soiree and no less than four neighbors had asked if I'd be attending. In three-plus years, I'd never been, which made for an excellent reason to finally check it out. Last year they had a band, but this year it was going to be DJ Cox and who wouldn't enjoy seeing their neighbors shake their groove things?

The party was at Club 533 on the far side of J-Ward from me and the food was provided by neighborhood caterers Sweetie Pie and Hidden Treasure. I'm guessing the association bought the booze (our association dues at work; I like that!). It was fun to see neighbors dressed for a holiday party; for some that meant fancy clothes and for others, a Santa hat did the job.

I sat down to eat with the staff of the Black History Museum (my geekdom knows no holidays)and my favorite neighbor Larry. I will be able to say that it was tonight that I discovered firsthand what a party animal my mild-mannered neighbor really is. And I can now personally attest to his superior dancing skills, something I would have never suspected despite three years of knowing him. The music was classic R & B, for the most part, and a real crowd-pleaser; nothing says happy holidays like a crowded dance floor by 6:30.

Next I headed east to Bouchon in the Slip. I've eaten there a couple of times previously, but tonight's meet-up was for the bar experience. Working my way through a full house, I met my friend at the bar in the back and was immediately impressed with the bar menu. There were plenty of interesting choices, most costing a mere $4 and the more substantial ones $12. My friend is a carb-lover and Bouchon is a carb-lover's paradise.

We each started with a bowl of the Sausage and Bean Stew, from a traditional 700-year old recipe. Three thick diagonals of sausage floated across the stew; it was the kind of dish that warms you from within. She then got the truffle mac and cheese (which comes with an anything- but-boring mixed green salad, probably intended to slightly slow the hardening of our arteries as we ate the mac) and I got the Spec Tart (from the regular menu), which I knew from a previous visit was divine. French pig, caramelized onion and creme fraiche = chewy, flavorful and satisfying.

We were sorely tempted by the sight of the slider, but refrained. But I'm not sure you should eat at a French bistro without investigating their pommes frites and they did not disappoint, being twice-fried and salted to perfection. And that kind of salty calls for sweet, so lastly, I ordered the Profiteroles with ice cream and chocolate sauce.

We met another bar-sitter, a newbie to rva after only six months, who was lamenting not knowing what goes on in this town. Did he ever run into the right person to help him with that! He requested some recommendations for the weekend and I supplied them. There I go, boosting again; somebody should just tamp me down.

I'm not sure if the word has gotten out about what a great deal Bouchon's bar menu is, but as another regular pointed out, it's an economical and incredibly tasty way to enjoy a white-tablecloth meal for a fraction of the cost. Being at the bar, which is located at the back of the restaurant, allowed us to enjoy the energy of the room while feeling like we were in a cozy out-of-the-way nook...the ideal place to carb up.

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