Monday, December 31, 2012

I Aim to Beat/Eat

It might have been the ideal night to try a new restaurant.

After all, what kind of people go out the night before the big night?

(raises hand)

Besides, Rappahannock was practically begging for it on Facebook.

"Beat the crowd and come in tonight!"

I always wanted to beat the crowd.

There were plenty of seats open at the bar, so I chose one right in front of the service bartender in case emergency conversation was needed.

He turned out to be a fun conversationalist while endlessly making drinks.

For me, all he had to do was go to the tap and let out some Montelusa Prosecco and I was set.

On walking in the music playing was CCR's "Who'll Stop the Rain," which forced me to inquire about the source of the music.

Multiple approved playlists were available for the bar staff to choose from, but there was a pecking order.

Old style country during the day. Classic rock and blues during dinner. A little punk once it got later.

He assured me it would get better and I politely asked, "Soon?"

Call me new school, but I just don't need to hear Creedence Clearwater Revival if I can avoid it.

My bi-valve-loving companion and I began with a dozen oysters, Rappahannocks, Witchducks and Olde Salts.

I slurped mine down, drinking the last bits of juice from the shell like my father had taught me to.

And while you'd think that a half dozen oysters would be plenty, I couldn't help eyeing every platter of oysters that went by, wishing more were coming my way.

Cost aside, it would have been so easy to do nothing but slurp.

But, no, I soldiered on to taste something else instead of becoming fixated.

Tuna crudo with preserved lemon, castelvetrano olives, radish slices and Calabrian chilies arrived looking pink and pretty.

One bite revealed a buttery texture and the most delicate flavor of the fish.

Wow, they were knocking it out of the park with the raw bar.

Time to try the kitchen.

I ordered rockfish and Barcat oyster bourride, a stew thickened with eggs, and garlic, fennel, and potatoes with a big old poached egg sitting atop a chunk of grilled bread.

Honestly, they had me at poached egg because I almost never order rockfish.

Not because I don't like it but because I was raised Catholic and we had rockfish or blue fish every Friday of my childhood.

The bourride was stellar, garlicky and with a big chunk of fish soaking in that broth.

The egg just added a decadence to the whole thing.

When I got down to nothing but broth, I told our bartender to advise the chef that the problem with the dish was that it needed more bread.

"You mean you want more bread?" he stated as fact.

I mean, if you're going to give people all this broth, shouldn't they have a sopping vehicle?

As the crowd continued to grow during our stay, the music retreated into the rafters, almost unintelligible.

At one point, one of the managers walked by, looked up and said to me, "All we have is bass."

It was true;  the only audible part of the music now was the bass line.

"Yea, it's one big blues song. The words are interchangeable since all blues songs have the same bass line," our bartender said, proving it by singing.

It makes me want to come back when punk is playing and hope I have a better chance of hearing the music.

We decided to finish with the cheese plate and Malbec.

It was supposed to come with three cheeses, but they were out of the  Rogue Creamery smokey bleu, so we got a double serving of 5 Spoke Tumbleweed, a long-aged cheddar-like cheese, and  Firefly Farms Merry Goat Round, a clever name but not as good as the South African Goats Do Rome wines.

Both cheeses were good but not anything close to mind-blowing, but the acoutrements were dynamite.

Brandied apricots were indulgent-tasting and the marcona almonds made a fan of me on the first one.

How have I never heard of these Spanish gems, everything the dry California almonds are not?

The bartender provided good stories, like the one about the customer who came in wanting Jack Daniels, a spirit they don't carry.

When he politely explained that to the customer (who wore a U.S.M.C. hat), the man replied, "What are you, a Communist?"

Now that's funny.

So besides great seafood, an affable server and keg bubbles, I got major laughs.

The only real miss was the music and that's a work in progress.

But I'll be honest; I already knew that Rappahnnock wasn't going to replace Merroir in my heart.

But I'm smart enough to realize that a restaurant by the same people 3/4 of a mile from my house is nothing to sneeze at.

And an uncrowded New Year's Eve eve was the perfect time to try the closer one out.


No comments:

Post a Comment