My two best friends and I went to the Blue Bottle Café for dinner a couple nights ago. First, let me start off by saying the service was wonderful. Our server was both warm and professional. The atmosphere was also pleasant – it was cozy without being cramped, and the lighting was not too dim.
Because we were having what we call a “grown-up dinner” at a nice restaurant, we started off with appetizers/salads. I can’t remember what the dressing was on L’s salad, but it was tasty – the salad I remember had spinach, wonderfully flavorful mushrooms and asparagus. She finished it pretty quickly. E had an heirloom tomato and house-made mozzarella salad with balsamic syrup. The tomatoes were very flavorful (perfect, actually), and the texture of the mozz was great. However, I would have liked a stronger balsamic accent (though it could be just the bite I had) and less-salty mozz.
Finally, I had the corn soup. I’m not a corn soup fan, but found the description intriguing – I was not disappointed. It was a smoothly pureed corn soup with a roasted vegetable relish and basil oil. The smokiness of the vegetables and the brightness of the basil oil were in a constantly shifting balance, which made each bite of the soup an exciting experience. It was really great – I cleaned the bowl.
The bread that came with the meal, btw, was excellent. Three varieties – a crusty French/Italian, a multigrain and one that reminded me a little of Irish soda bread with caraway seeds and dried fruit.
The entrees were more than satisfactory. L had scallops over what I guess could be described as a lentil pilaf that was heavily flavored with bacon. It was a bit salty for my taste, but L is a big bacon fan and she was delighted with it. E had the parmesan gnocchi which came with artichokes, tomatoes, Piave cheese and a little spinach in a light wine sauce. The gnocchi were among the lightest I’ve had and, because of the parmesan, very flavorful. E was very pleased with the dish.
My own dish was the marinated buffalo flank steak in a cumin-lime sauce with corn cakes and tomato-jicama salsa. The buffalo was done perfectly and really tasted like buffalo. The cumin-lime sauce lent flavor but was not overwhelming. I’ve never had corn cakes before, believe it or not, but I really enjoyed these. I’m more of a mashed potatoes traditionalist when I have steak of any kind though, so I would have probably been just as happy with that. I’ve also never gotten the point of jicama – if anyone can explain its delights to me, I would appreciate it – so I kinda picked out the tomatoes in the salsa and was again very happy with those – bright, brilliant red with a full tomato flavor.
Dessert was another happy event. L had a raspberry financier (kinda like a very flat, very large vanilla cupcake with no icing) with raspberry sauce and Earl Grey Tea ice cream from the Bent Spoon (all the ice cream is). The financier tasted good to me, but I’ve never had one before, and the ice cream was freaking awesome – no other way to put it. E had a celiac-friendly pavlova (she doesn’t have celiac, but the dessert looked yummy). The meringue part wasn’t that thrilling for E – I think she just realized she doesn’t like meringues. But she liked the mix of fruits in an orange-flavored sauce and the peach ice cream.
I had a fudge cake with peanut butter accents and peanut butter/chocolate ice cream – it arrived surrounded by a puddle of chocolate and peanut butter sauces in a decorative pattern that was almost – I reiterate almost – too pretty to eat. It was basically decadence on a plate. I think I offered E and L each a taste and then hoovered it. Yum!
Sometimes I leave a restaurant satisfied and pleasantly full. Sometimes the food sits heavy and uncomfortable in my stomach. After eating at the Blue Bottle Café, I felt completely stuffed – not because the food was heavy, but because I had basically cleaned my plate during each course. It was a great meal, and I know we will be going back.