Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Meal for a Winter's Night {Branzino}

I can no longer say that the weather is turning.  It's downright cold. It's snowing in the higher elevations and we hear there is a good chance of snow in the city on Sunday. This is pretty exciting. I don't really like partially cold weather. I'd actually prefer to just know to bundle up than wonder how to dress from day to day. That said, there is a certain danger in the weather turning completely from Autumn to Winter. It becomes all too easy to just curl up on the sofa and become a hermit. B and I have promised ourselves and each other that we won't let that happen this year.
We're sort of scrambling to get the work week wrapped up and everything we need to get done at home taken care of before leaving for Portland Friday morning. We took time out tonight, though, to venture out into the miserable cold to Branzino. We've been to Branzino a few times in the past. They are located literally across the street from our old apartment and only four blocks from our current condo. Truth be told, the first visit (a couple of weeks after they opened) was pretty rough. We decided to give them at least six months before returning. Since then, we've visited about five times and the food and service have improved with each visit.

Tonight, we sat in a booth at the very back of the restaurant.  B was initially a little disappointed because we were way in the back, but I actually kind of liked it. Our server was also very pleasant, genuine and attentive even though it would be easy to forget a table tucked away like ours was.

To start we had the lamb meatball, pork meatball and the proscuitto with grilled rapini. All three were wonderful.  For dinner, I had the grilled octopus with Putanesca sauce with a side of Polenta and B had the Thundering Hooves ribeye with roasted potatoes and carrots. For dessert, we split an order of the donuts with Meyer lemon curd. It was all fantastic. I will say I think the octopus at How to Cook a Wolf was a bit better, but I still don't have any complaints about Branzino's. The donuts were delicious. They reminded us both a bit of those from Dahlia. I also happen to love Meyer lemon curd.
Pork Meatball 
 Lamb Meatball
 Proscuitto with Grilled Rapini
 Thundering Hooves Ribeye
 Polenta in a miniature Staub crock
Grilled Octopus 
Donuts with Meyer Lemon Curd

It was a long meal, but the slow pace didn't bother me in the least because our server kept us in the loop along the way. He let us know that he waited awhile before putting our entrees in so we could take our time with drinks and appetizers. Though I've complained a bit about slow service at other restaurants recently, I discovered tonight that it doesn't bother me at all (as long as I'm not in a hurry) if I know why the pace is what it is. Silly, maybe, and that's probably the control freak in my nature, but it makes a huge difference if I just feel like I know what's happening.

B also had a nice surprise when we ordered his second drink. They ran out of Woodford Reserve, so when he ordered a second, they brought him a Black Maple Hill and soda instead. Even better, they didn't upcharge us for the better bourbon. It did "pack a bit of a punch" as our server promised, but even I thought it was exceptionally smooth. We'll definitely pick some up on our next semi-annual trip to the liquor store.

Tomorrow, it's off to the trainer for me first thing in the morning followed by what is sure to be a hectic work day and then home to get ready for our Friday adventure. We're both really looking forward to Friday and our first real roadtrip together. I don't mind a bit if it's cold, but I do hope that the road conditions and harsh weather saves itself until at least Sunday night after we're home. I won't be sad if we wake up to a massive blizzard on Monday morning.

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