Clearly I haven't been out walking in my neighborhood lately, a fact made apparent to me on my way to dinner tonight. Strolling down the street, two different neighbors asked me where my trusty companion was and it turned out they were referring to the beagle.
It's been 2 1/2 months since I had to have him put down and neither neighbor knew about it. It was bittersweet having to explain it all again and especially twice. My evening began with a couple of big sighs.
Likewise, I hadn't been to 27 since a couple of visits early in June (one involving record wine consumption, but that's another story), so I got the royal greeting on arrival tonight. The place was busy, with one full dining room and a 13-top expected any moment. Already at the bar was one of my favorite downtown servers and a wine rep, so I had immediate company. Things were shaping up nicely.
Chef Carlos teased me about my recent absence, making me feel missed and appreciated, while bartender Dave gloated over having seen me twice in the same night recently. I ordered a glass of the ubiquitous Broadbent Vino Verdhe, and began my night out with a toast to the beagle.
Considering this endless heatwave, my first course was just what the meteorologist ordered. Carlos delivered a summer soup sampler with two chilled delicacies. The avocado with roasted corn was rich and creamy (he claimed it had only a "little bit" of cream) with most of the fatty richness coming from nature's butter, the avocado. The other soup was a fresh-as-summer gazpacho, making for a lovely contrast. I went back and forth from acidic to creamy, rich to tart, enjoying how well the two complemented each other. Both tasted out-of-the-garden fresh.
Meanwhile I'd found a Pennsylvania native with whom I discussed all things Richmond. Like me, he's a transplant who has blossomed in the capital of the Confederacy. Unlike me, he's a talented pianist. He's the first person I've met who'd been to the museum as many times as I have. He was a conversational godsend and I delayed my next course enjoying all the talk.
I then tucked into the classic Caesar salad with anchovies while hearing about what's been going on in Carlos' world, both personal and professional. I shared some of my better vacation stories with him (the interested restaurant owner saga, in particular, really tickled him although he thought I should have taken it in another direction). It was satisfying to be back at my neighborhood joint.
With my next course of escargots, mushroom caps gratin and Pernod, Carlos suggested his favorite white, the gavi di gavi and it was a perfect pairing. Although not always a fan of Pernod (I think it is often too dominating a flavor), in this case it was heavenly: subtle and fragrant. For me, enough butter is the main escargot requirement and these mushroom caps sat in a pool of it.
After soup and salad, this was going to fill me up in the best possible way.
Which meant there was no room for dessert, but my evening eventually ended on a sweet note anyway. As I was preparing to leave, Carlos, the physically demonstrative one, gave me a kiss and a hug and admonished me to be back in my barstool again soon.
And Dave, the verbally demonstrative one? "Karen, you know I love you like a fat kid loves cake."
Color me satisfied on all counts.