Wine and Dinner Out

Matt’s Uncle called unexpectedly the other night to tell us he was in town and to ask if we happened to be free for dinner. Unless we already have plans we are always up for a night out as otherwise it’s just me cooking dinner, and the bbq pulled pork I made could wait for another day! Plus we haven’t seen Matt’s Uncle since Thanksgiving, so it’d been awhile.

We headed to Cafe Atlantico downtown, not a restaurant Matt and I had been to before. It’s kind of South America meets I don’t really know what. For example, I had the Bacon wrapped Cornish Hen with deconstructed Mole and seared Watermelon and Bruce (the Uncle) had Flank Steak with Malanga Puree (I must confess I do not know what a Malanga is, but Bruce said it was potatoish). Matt had the Duck Confit. Both Matt and Bruce said their meals were excellent and well done. I wasn’t so happy with mine. It had 2 rounded pieces of Cornish Hen wrapped in bacon which were about the size of a big scallop and were excellent. The bacon was seared perfectly and matched well with the hen. However, the entire plate was covered with deconstructed Mole, which you had to mix all together to get Mole sauce. With a fork. It didn’t work well. And then the rest of the hen, 2 legs, were piled on top of each other done in a spicy moist outer coating with nothing going for it but spice and the meat was dry and flavorless. Also, seared watermelon is just weird.

The wine list was long and expensive. Only 5 bottles under $30 that I could count (and the online version isn’t current) and bottles ranging up to $975. Bruce chose a 2004 Flowers Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. It had a real cork, was 14.2% alcohol by volume and appears to be available online for around $50. The color was a pretty garnet. On the nose were violets, ripe cherries and raspberries. In the mouth it had a medium feel. I found raspberries and a little earthy/natural taste. Overall it was very smooth and seemed very food friendly, if you liked your food.

As for the restaurant, our server was attentive, brought new wine glasses when we ordered the Pinot Noir with bigger bowls and poured just the right amount in the glass. We were seated immediately and the restaurant was fairly packed for a Tuesday night, there were very few open tables. The restaurant had several levels, so if you don’t want to climb 2 or 3 flights of stairs make sure to ask to be seated on the ground level. Upstairs where we were seated was a cute “tapas” bar thta sat perhaps 6 people. The tapas looked interesting and you could get them matched with different wines. I also liked that the restaurant offered many wines by the glass, plus flights of wine, a concept that often seems to escape restaurants in DC.

Food…mine was the only disappointing entree. Both Bruce and I had the Baba for dessert, which may have been one of the more bizarre desserts I’ve ever had. It was sweet bread (like pound cake but fluffier) soaked in rum, over what was supposed to be coffee gel and topped with this cream thing. Too much rum, the bread was soggy and fell apart, the coffee gel wasn’t gel and it tasted like rum. The cream was really thick. Thicker than yogurt, but tangy like yogurt.

If we returned I would get a different entree or do the tapas bar instead. And definitely skip the dessert. Matt had an odd thing involving bananas and chocolate, but he said the banana parts were just weird and didn’t taste right. I wouldn’t go anywhere near it as I can’t stand bananas. My only other complaint was that you don’t get bread to start or anything.