12 October 2010

Prix Fixe dinner, avant-garde music at Barbette

Barbette was the first restaurant I reviewed when I started this blog in 2006. This will be the 4th post about it. (If you want to read the others, you can click here, and here, and here.) I think that makes Barbette the most frequently mentioned restaurant on Krik’s Picks.Want to know why?

Because it’s reliably fun and good. We’ve always had good food, good wine, great service, and funky ambiance. Now you can add entertainment to the list of attractions that make Barbette a place to come back to, again and again.

We don’t usually go out for dinner during the week. But I’m taking this week off, just to stay and home, rake leaves, do some cooking, and write blog posts. I recently became a ‘fan’ of Barbette on Facebook, and I’ve noticed recent posts about live music on Mondays and Thursdays. So what the heck? No need to get up early on Tuesday morning. Perfect excuse for a late dinner and check out the music.

The other thing relatively new at Barbette is a weekly prix fixe meal. When we arrived and checked the menu, it was an easy decision for both of us to choose the special menu. The first item served was seared scallops. On the plate were two nice-sized sea scallops, perfectly cooked with a dollop of spicy aioli. The scallops were topped with a teaspoon of chopped tomatoes (sort of like a mild salsa). The whole thing was on a thick slab of bacon.

Next up was duck confit in a vegetable hash topped with a poached egg. I think this was my favorite dish of the meal. The vegetables were sautéed nice and tender. The duck was rich and flavorful. The egg yolk coated the whole dish like a warm, golden sauce.

Next came four small slices of New York strip steak served on brocollini and topped with a shallot Bordelaise sauce. It was very good, but we enjoyed the other two dishes on the menu better.

The dessert actually was a duo. One was a cinnamon tea cake – very light and flavorful. The other was an espresso caramel pot de crème. It was served in a demitasse cup and was topped with nutmeg crème.

Consistent with our past experiences at Barbette, our server was excellent. She helped us pick a nice Spanish wine (Rioja Vega Joven) that nicely complimented all of the items on the prix fixe menu.

The musical group for the evening was called Saltee. While we were eating, the musicians arrived. One of them (female cello player) sat at the table next to us. We didn’t really know too much about their style. Barbette’s Facebook page described them this way: “Saltee is an Indie, urban, organic, neo classical trio steam driven by afro-Cuban beats made by the human voice.” Know what that means? Neither did we.

While writing this post, I did discover that Saltee has a Facebook page. Click here if you want to see it. You can hear a couple of samples of their music in the Links section of their Facebook page.

The cello player was very curious about why we were there. By 9:45 (the music started at 10), we were clearly the oldest people in the restaurant. I told her that we loved Barbette’s food, and we were curious about the music.

“It’s very urban,” she said. I’m not sure if she was implying that we would be too suburban to enjoy it, but it was clear that we weren’t the demographic of their usual audience.

“Well,” I said. “If we don’t like it, we’ll go home and watch the news, which is what we’re usually doing at 10 on a Monday night.”

We did like it just fine. Besides the cello player, there was a guitar player and a vocalist who did ‘beatboxing.’ The live performance had a lot of energy that was captivating, and it was easy to get caught up in the enthusiasm of the crowd. They took a break at 11, and that’s when we left to go home.

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