I had my first experience with the three-martini lunch today, except that there were no martinis involved. It started innocently enough with lunch plans to meet a girlfriend at Bistro 27. On the walk over, I ran into my Whiskey Wednesday buddy (who, sadly, no longer resides in J-Ward) but it provided plenty of catch-up talk about Against Me! and good Mexican in Carytown. It's weird how we run into each other as much, if not more, than when we lived a block and a half apart.
So, on to the Bistro 27 experience. First of all, let me state for the record that Carlos is probably my favorite chef friend in all of rva. He always produces amazing food and he always makes time for stellar conversation and insider insight; that he's devastatingly handsome doesn't hurt, either.
Because of my whiskey friend delay, my perennially tardy friend was already in place at the bar when I arrived, a highly unusual circumstance, since she's known for her lack of punctuality. The server was just pouring her glass of vino verde when I arrived. Since we were the only bar customers, I made it easy for her and just ordered the same. No one should have to work too hard on a Thursday afetrnoon this beautiful.
Before we could even order, Carlos presented us with a gigantic bowl of mussels in a tomato/herb broth with fresh-out-of-the-oven sundried tomato focaccia. Perhaps he thought we needed something to wash down with our vino verde, but whatever the reason for his generosity, they were scrumptious.
For lunch I had the Gorgonzola chicken salad and friend had the Mediterranean wrap (enormous, btw) and sweet potato fries. We were smart to lay down a base because Carlos was happy to have, in his words, "two beautiful women at my bar," and things quickly devolved from lunch to an afternoon wine party, complete with wine reps dropping by and assorted other vendors coming in, joining in and moving on. Like any good party, a rotating guest list makes for the best possible conversational possibilities.
Carlos had a brilliant idea for restaurant recycling, an especially critical issue since the city doesn't pick up commercial recycling. His proposal was to work out an arrangement to use a couple of the city recycling trucks at off times once a week to collect restaurant recyclables, which would then be taken to one of the stations that process them. Any proceeds from the abundance of glass and cardboard donated would go directly to the Central Virginia Food Bank. As it is, many restaurateurs don't recycle because of the hassle of taking it to a site, so it sounds like a win/win situation (Portland or San Fran-like, even). Thoughts from the peanut gallery?
My friend is dating someone, but tonight she has a date with someone else entirely, so we spent a fair amount of time discussing the male/female dynamic and how it plays out. Carlos and I shared tales of marriage and our preference for being in a committed relationship rather than loose in the dating world. Of course, there was a fair amount of finger-pointing at the opposite sex for the foibles that tangle us up in less-than-satisfactory relationships, but all in good fun.
Also on the table were the changes in 27's menu for the upcoming warm weather season. I was ecstatic to hear that he'll be adding the Bobo de Camarae, drooled over here, to his summer menu and, best of all, in an appetizer portion. Hallelujah! This dish must be experienced and now anyone will have that opportunity to experience a true Brazilian dish with its African influences. He told us about other Brazilian additions for the summer, but I'll leave you to discover them on your own. I love that these dishes he usually only makes for his family are now available to the non-Brazilian masses (read: me).
Lest you think the abundance of wine limited us to only sex and restaurant talk, one of the most satisfying discussions of the afternoon was about the loss of childhood and the delay of the maturation process. Not one of us could make an argument for the majority today having their act together by age 30. How is it we have 12-year olds who are going on 25 and 28-year olds still trying to figure out life's basic requirements? We didn't have an answer.
If I've made 27 sound like a great neighborhood joint where you'd want to hang out, it's because it is. If you don't believe me, check out their Ste. Michelles Estates wine dinner next Thursday. The last wine dinner I went to there was also five course (and the courses are generous, so pace yourself), presented by Bodegas Carrau (I'm still coveting my last bottle of the Tannat for a very special occasion) and this one is an even better deal. It's only $55 and that's all-inclusive. You will be full, you will be loopy and you will take food home. Just sayin'.
But I digress. After a nearly four hour lunch, it occured to my friend that she had a date to prepare for and, while my plans don't involve a date tonight, they do involve a music-loving friend, dinner, multiple bands and a meet-up with a favorite girlfriend afterwards. Time to get cleaned up and exit the Ward for a while.
Should you care to check back, full report to come.