Well, after hearing wonderful things here and in the Washington Post, hubby and I trekked out to Herndon on Saturday night to check out SBC Cafe. It did not disappoint. The "ambiance" is, I would say, a paradox to the food. It looks like a pizza joint or deli trying to play dress up at night. White butcher paper on tables and booths, mis-matched chairs, a "bar" that doubles as a cash register counter.
The food belied the setting. The soups are terrific. Hubby had the conch chowder, which he said was too spicy, but I thought had just the right touch of heat from chiles (the kind that hits the back of the throat, not the mouth or lips). The server (very friendly guy on break from VA Tech) told us that when the Exec Chef makes the chowder, it's less spicy, but when the sous chef from El Salvador does it, watch out! Guess the sous made it on Saturday. I had the creamy tomato basil, which had just the right touch of cream that didn't overpower the tomato and basil and pepper flavors.
For entrees, hubby had the jerk pork tenderloin with truffle mashed potatoes. It was really terrific, tender and moist and just the right amount of heat. It came with a tiny cup of apple chutney, which, once I explained to hubby what it was (he couldn't tell--he musta thought it was a vegitable of some kind), he loved eating with the pork. I had the porchini-dusted sea bass in mushroom jus with cauliflower mashed potatoes and lime sauteed spinach. Lovely. The lime sauteed spinach was a little heavy on the lime for my taste, but it was a neat concept.
We opted not to have dessert, but our server offered us cappuccinos or espressos on the house, as the Cafe had purchased a new (1962) cappuccino machine that he was dying to try out, as he is a barista at school. We agreed to let him make us (oh, the sacrifices we make) decaf cappuccinos. Unfortunately, he must have brought us (very delicious, I might add) regular cappuccinos, as we were both up half the night (we aren't caffeine people).
So, in sum, we really enjoyed this gem of a paradox in Herndon, VA. We'll be back. My folks will particularly like this place, cause you can go super casual (jeans would have been just fine) and have upscale food. Total dinner for 2 (with Diet Coke with lime for me and a glass of wine for him) was $50 before tip. Can't beat it.