Saturday, February 17, 2007

Friday Trifecta

It was a bit of a long one this week at work, and no but of course we don't get Monday off, so I was more than ready for a glass of wine after work on Friday. I met Amy at Belga Cafe on the Hill - a really cozy spot with an amazing selection of Belgian and other beers as well as interesting cocktails, a decent wine list and tasty food. I had Belga's house red wine, a Vin du Gard D'Orange, which was well-balanced and just slightly fruity. A perfect house wine. Amy arrived later and ordered one of Belga's beer cocktails, the Orangutang (is that the way the animal name is spelled - cute!), which is Stella Artois, orange juice and a dash of grenadine. The color is a gorgeous juicy pink and served in a traditional Stella glass, and the drink looked and tasted delicious. I hadn't really eaten all day, so even though we were joining our weekly dinner group afterwards, we ordered Belga's frites. They arrive in a cone with faux newspaper lining, and were piping hot. After a quick bite we decided the fries actually needed a bit of salt, which we added, yielding tasty bites of deliciousness which were crispy yet tender and decadent. The texture of the fries varied quite a lot as some were fairly soft and some quite crisp, but it was a treat we were glad we ordered and the strong savory element paired very well with our libations. We had only to walk a few doors down the street to Trattoria Alberto for dinner. You walk upstairs one level to enter the restaurant, and on a chilly evening the cozy atmosphere, dim lighting and scents of rich Italian food were absolutely perfect. We were a large table so our host ordered carafes of the house red and white wine for the group. The red was a Chianti, which I usually don't care for, but this variety actually worked for me, and the white was a Pinot Grigio. I started with a Caesar Salad which was good, but certainly not anything great. I enjoyed the tangy and peppery dressing and the generous helping of Parmesan cheese, but the croutons were definitely out of a box and the lettuce was chopped a bit too finely to be able to make nice, meaty bites. For my main I had Pollo Marsala, which also came with a large portion of Alberto's freshly made pasta. I am not much of one for carbs so I just enjoyed the chicken, which was tender and juicy, and the mushroom and wine sauce it was soaking in added a lot of flavor. The sauce was a bit thick for me, perhaps too much cornstarch, but it was tasty and almost slightly sweet. Folks around me for the most part ordered one or another of the pasta options, and were pleased all around. I had a taste of Amy's Pasta Carbonara, and it was creamy, eggy and yummy but I didn't see or taste much bacon. Alan, who was hosting the group this week, had a veal cutlet which he said was well-cooked and not too saucy. All together the group had just about one of each of the dessert options, including Ice Cream Cake, a Flaming Chocolate Torte with Rum, traditional Tiramisu and Strawberry Cheesecake. I enjoyed my vino and my decadent bite of the Ice Cream Cake, which came with a lovely drizzle of caramel, nuts and a rich and moist chocolate crust. After dinner we walked yet another few doors down to Banana Cafe and topped the evening off with a fun cocktail. Most folks opted for a mojito, which I tasted and enjoyed but they almost always are too much of a mint garden sensation for me. I had a glass of red Zinfandel. Not a bad way to de-stress after a long week eh?

Belga Cafe
514 8th Street in SE DC

Trattoria Alberto
506 8th Street in SE DC

Banana Cafe
500 8th Street in SE DC

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