Took leave of the Chowpup last night for a now-relatively-rare evening out with just the two of us. With Sotto Sotto not open on Sunday and word of mouth that Piespace isn't quite there yet, the new cafe menu at Woodfire Grill and a half-price bottle of wine were the next answer to the question, "where do we want to go that we haven't been yet/lately?"
The menu offered a selection of starters, cheeses, cured meats, pizzas, panini, and two entree plates (a burger or pasta). Nothing was over $12, if I recall correctly. And you could order off the regular menu, albeit at regular prices.
We picked a bottle of shiraz we'd had at Bacchanalia a few years ago and ordered the cold beet soup with tarragon creme fraiche to start. The soup was wonderful- earthy and refreshing, with the tarragon providing an excellent complement to the beets.
For entrees, she ordered a pizza and I did the burger. The pizza, with eggplant, tomatoes, and goat cheese was good but not to my taste exactly. Maybe I was just in a meaty mood, but nothing about it excited me, and it was just a bit too wet from the veggies and olive oil to appeal.
And the burger was pretty much a disaster. The first version came with foccacia that was hard as a brick. Whether it'd been left on the grill for too long, was stale, or what, I don't know, and I wasn't excited to get forensic. Take a piece of bread and toss it in the microwave for too long and you'll get an idea of what I'm talking about. I sent it back and asked for different bread. Their next choice was country french that was in better shape, freshness-wise, but it was sopping wet with oil.
The meat itself was well-cooked to medium rare and tasty. The (I presume homemade) pickles and pickled onion were a treat in and of themselves. The aioli with the pommes frites was addictively garlicky. But the frites were a sodden, oily mass that I doubt The Varsity would let past its counter.
We told our server (who did a great job despite the kitchen) our complaints and, to their credit, they didn't charge us for the burger. We also encouraged them to fix the frites by getting their oil hotter before a friend at another table received his burger. They didn't manage to do that. For $12, I just expect a lot more, especially when I could have a perfectly cooked burger, crisp fries, plus a pint of a good beer for the same price at The Vortex.
We'll go back for the Sunday wine special, but we'll have to think about eating in the cafe again.