Friday, October 14, 2011

Outlyer Observations

Honestly, things just keep getting better at The Roosevelt.

When I first ate dinner there, it was opening night and I fell in love with everything about the place, here.

Now almost three months and many visits later, I continue to default to it for its ever-changing and creative menu, all-Virginia wine list and guarantee of interesting people with whom I can chat.

Knowing that, I was in a bar stool and choosing my wine early on tonight.

A girl next to me was just finishing up her buttermilk panna cotta with regret.

"The only problem with this Mason jar is that I can't get my tongue in it to lick it clean," she bemoaned.

When I suggested she could lick it partly clean, she inserted her finger and began swiping out the last bits on her finger.

"Not embarrassed to lick my finger at all, " she bragged to no one in particular, getting the last of her dessert the only way possible.

Despite the balmy temperatures, I decided to go for red wine, choosing the Rockbridge Pinot Noir.

Later a guy observed that every single person at the bar had white wine and said dryly, "I see you're the outlyer."

Not just in wine, my friend, but in many things.

As always, the company was outstanding.

I started with a favorite girlfriend, followed by a talkative radio rat, a teacher suffering from parent/teacher conference-itis (my second of the week), a musician couple out for their anniversary, a photographer/copywriter duo and Tony, the neighborhood gent who's writing his memoirs of life in Amelia County ("My marriage went south and so did I").

And then there's the food. My first plate was magnificent.

Seared foie gras pate on crispy pork rinds with apple moustard was enough to make me swoon and harden my arteries at the same time.

Bartender T. made me laugh out loud, saying,"Bringing the class back to pork rinds," while my friend Josh asked, "Is your mind being blown now?" when he saw me eating them.

Yes, yes it was being blown, as were my taste buds. Decadent as foie gras is, eating it on pork rinds took it to a whole new level.

I gave my girlfriend a taste but she said one was enough while I went on to finish an entire plate of this rich take on snack food.

When Chef Lee came by to see how I liked it, I tripped over my words praising it and he said with his usual nonchalance, "I don't know how I didn't think of it before."

The restaurant was crazy busy tonight with a lot of tables reserved for large parties and, unlike past visits, lots of older people instead of the usual young, hip crowd.

Nearly full but wanting a second course, I chose the chicken and rice soup with a slow-cooked farm egg.

The richness of the egg only added to the taste of the savory stock dense with hunks of chicken and tender rice.

I must have looked like I was enjoying it because after I finished, the couple next to me asked what I'd eaten and each ordered a bowl.

And then there were the fried sugar toads with bacon aioli, always a treat when I find them on a menu. Insert in mouth, scrape and chew. Yum.

Not content to stay with one Virginia wine, it being Virginia Wine Month and all, I moved on to the Veritas Claret, a Bordeaux-style blend recommended by my girlfriend.

And still people continued to arrive for dinner.

A trio of guys sidled up to the bar next to me, the one telling the others, "This place is always busy because the food's amazing. Just smell that!"

Since I was two stools from the kitchen and plates had been coming out all night, I was well aware of how delicious the aroma was, but to the unfed, it must have seemed unbearable.

I finished up my evening with a slice of coconut cake and a discussion with neighbor Tony of  "Playing for Change," a multi-media movement dedicated to peace through music.

He highly recommended it to me when he discovered I was a music lover.

"Look at the website," Tony instructed me and I promised him a full report next time I see him there.

"Not a report," he said smiling, "Just your observations."

I'm always glad to share my observations when I'm at the Roosevelt because there's so much pleasurable to observe.

Now please pass the pork rinds.

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