Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Alternative Chill

What does it mean when someone says you go to a restaurant "all the time"?

That descriptor was thrown out about me by another guest at Acacia tonight and it gave me pause. I think a more apt summation would have been that I've been going to Acacia for a long time (and with good reason). It proves that everyone's definition of "all the time" is different.

Tonight's visit was the latest in a long line of exceptional meals and thoroughly pleasurable evenings spent at one of my favorite go-to places. Interestingly, the music was more mid-week, meaning less middle eastern trance and more alternative chill. The genre-blending station covered a lot of good territory while we were there.

So did the food and since there were three of us, it was all about sharing, beginning with Domaine de la Mordoree "La Dame Rousse" Rose, a brilliant pink toast to start the evening. They were just back from a  weekend in Annapolis - boating, eating crabs, wine and dive-barring and, best of all, reading on porches - and wanted to talk about what a fabulous time they'd had.

At least they did right up until the food began arriving.

The silvery mound presented to me was grilled marinated radicchio and romaine with some daring fourme d'ambert, pine nuts for texture and creamy garlic dressing under a roofing of white anchovies covering the entire thing. The sheer amount of anchovies was noteworthy. Fortunately, we'd ordered two of these.

Fried softshell crabs with spoonbread and BLT sauce generated a bread discussion with a friend willing to put his mother's spoonbread up against my Richmond grandmother's spoonbread any day. Fat chance at her winning that, buddy. The spoonbread here was firmer than my grandmother's, more closely related to cornbread than what I grew up on as spoonbread. Delicious, nonetheless.

Simplest of all, grilled romaine with bacon, red onions and bacon cheddar dressing was quiet balance and lively flavors.

For my next course, I chose roasted grouper collar with cauliflower and cilantro vinaigrette. Despite both friends being grouper fans, neither had had ever heard of, much less had, collar. Sliding a few prime pieces of collar smothered in cauliflower puree and vinaigrette on their plates, they were just learning that if you like one part of the fish, why not try others? Gills to tail, baby (which, incidentally, graced the plate).

Post-dinner debate got hot and heated about local politics and elected officials not living in their district. During one tangent, I tried to interject, only to be told, "Let me finish and then I'll yield the floor to the pretty senator from Jackson Ward." Now, that's damn clever. I ceded the floor.

I got involved with a guy near me at the bar by inquiring about his first concert. Boston, at (get this) the Capital Center, incidentally also the site of my first concert. When his date returned we learned her first show was New Edition in 1989. Do I even know a New Edition song?

Our serious bartender, unable not to chortle at some of my companion's faulty humor, suggested Chambers Rosewood Muscat to accompany not one but two chocolate desserts, one molten, one mere torte, one with black pepper ice cream. Three spoons later, the damage had been done.

Before we went off in search of music, we'd logged an interesting soundtrack, a thoughtfully-conceived and knowingly-executed meal and savored several wines I'd revisit. If going to a restaurant "all the time" means every time I leave that place, I know I'll return (exhibit A: Acacia), then, yes, I go to Acacia all the time.

Looks like someone was right.

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