Sunday, June 26, 2011

Bottoming Out after Saturday in the Slip

I don't wait for engraved invitations anymore. I ask. And sometimes I get text-like responses.

So where have u been recently? I was thinking a bit later in the evening. 8 or 830 ish. What say? U going to some show later?

This quasi-invitation came from half of one of my favorite couples when I suggested a Saturday night couple date.

We established that I had no music plans for the evening (I know, a rarity on a weekend night) and I listed out my recent destinations. Result: Bistro Bobette at 815.

Crossing Cary Street to get to Bobette, a cab driver called out to me, "Hey, you in the black dress, you got a nice butt." Thus I was welcomed to Shockoe Slip.

I was greeted with hugs and kisses and Mas de la Dame Rose was offered before I could ask for it; my friends shortly arrived. 

It was a good foodie night at Bobette's bar, with a nearby trio of guys (including the Welshman still hoping for lip prints on his shirttail) eating even more than the three of us did. We don't often see that.

Every time they liked something, they ordered another dish of it. Ah, so these were smart men.

I was eager to hear about my friends' recent jaunt to DC; they'd done eleven restaurants in 2 1/2 days. Even I was impressed.

But tales of food can't match the real thing, so we wasted no time in availing ourselves of two of tonight's specials.

The rabbit pate with hazelnuts had a subtly rich flavor enhanced by the accompanying lentils. The lamb heart was rich, rare and as easy to cut as butter. I'd eat it anyway, but I'm hoping that eating heart improves one's love life.

After such rich starters, we naturally opted for more of the same, choosing a special of spicy rack of lamb and the mixed grill of quail, beef and bacon-wrapped pork.

The seven lamb lollipops were done in a spicy jus boasting coriander for flavor and crunch; sauteed pattypan squash and tomatoes accompanied it.

The chef himself doesn't usually care for lamb, but loves this locally grown lamb for its young, white meat. I could see why.

As for the mixed grill, how can you go wrong with fowl, cow and pig on one plate? The quail especially was melt-in-your mouth succulent.

Midway through dinner, a new couple joined us at the bar . In an odd coincidence, the female half of that couple, like the female of the couple I was with, was Russian.

They hit it off like a house on fire, alternating between Russian and English as they discussed god-knows what animatedly. 

It was pretty cute to see, like two stray dogs discovering that they liked to play together.

They paused only when the lavender ice cream came out with its distinctive aroma and high butterfat. 

I admit I had one sachet moment, but the flavor was so beautiful that I, like the others, was quickly won over.

We saw a loopy woman led out by her husband after she fell asleep in her chair. No one at her table seemed to find anything unusual about her post-dinner snooze while they chatted, but it seemed very odd to us.

As the last customers in the place, but not yet out of conversation,we decided to move the party six blocks east to Mint.

Of course, Saturday night parking in the Bottom is problematic at best and the omnipresent cops with their cars blocking half the intersections don't make it any easier.

We arrived just as the last diners were leaving, so Julep became Mint right before our eyes.

Shades were lowered and the music went from restaurant-stuffy to very cool. I heard a band I loved, the Budos Band, a ten-piece on Daptone records which says a lot, doing instrumental soul music.

One of the servers took note of it and came over and said, "This sounds like music from a '70s King Fu movie." 

He then proceeded to do bad lip synched dialog to simulate such a movie for our amusement. But the music reference was apt, I'd have to say. And I want more.

And then the Russian and her boyfriend showed up and it was a full-on party.

Mixologist Bobby told me about his ever-evolving drink list and then acknowledged the inevitable.

"You want a Don Julio?" he asked with a touch of resignation in his voice. I just nodded.

But when he brought it to me, it was more than just tequila and a slow-melting cube.

"I know you're a purist, so I only put the ground mustard seed on part of the rim," he said with a smile. 

He'd also slipped in a lime twist, no doubt to make himself feel better about having to pour such a boring drink. And as it turned out, the mustard seed was a nice touch.

Once I began sipping, I heard about one of his new creations, a tequila and absinthe drink with an avocado yogurt, which sounded so wonderful that I had to taste it.

Okay, so I might consider a cocktail if it contained that many things I love.

For entertainment value, Bobby told us about having run over a passed-out guy on the 14th Street bridge late last night. 

It wasn't so bad; Bobby was on his bike and only ran over the guy's foot and the guy never even stirred. 

Of course, it scared Bobby to death, though, so he called for non-emergency help and an ambulance was dispatched to help drunk guy get off the bridge.

If not for Bobby, he'd have probably slept it off on the sidewalk till daybreak, woken up and strolled home feeling much better.

What lesson can we learn here?

If not for going out all the time, I'd never get to hear such great stories. Or an evening of Russian conversation.

I wouldn't get to try mustard seed with tequila. Or find out that I might have the potential to be a cocktail drinker.

And then there was the cabbie commentary on my backside. I just can't get that kind of thing at home.

At least not yet. I remain eternally optimistic.

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