Charlottesville Restaurant Week

I’ve been well-fed these past few days, friends. The semi-annual Restaurant Week is upon us, and I found occasion to go not once, but twice. Restaurant Week, for those of you who are unaware, is a magical time of the year when some of our best restaurants offer a prix fixe menu from which patrons choose an appetizer, entreé, and dessert for the reasonable price of $29 a head ($36, for a few restaurants). It’s a great way to get to try some new things (for some, at places whose price tags might otherwise be daunting) around town.

On Tuesday, to round out Nate’s birthday celebrations, Ryan and I took him to Bang!.

(click to view menu)

(click photo to view menu, though it may differ slightly)

Of course, as it was a birthday celebration– a twenty-first birthday celebration, at that– a bottle of wine was in order. We went for what we all, with our so-highly-refined palates, determined to be a very nice, smooth California Cabernet Sauvignon: Leese Fitch 2010.

wine and lantern

(Oh and please excuse the awful coloring in all the pictures… not much I could do!)

For our appetizers, Ryan got my favorite thing to get on a normal night at Bang!: the chickpea spring rolls with curry sauce (whose carrot garnish is as delicious as any other part of the meal. In a good way.). Nate went for the tuna sashimi and mango spoons; I tried the sweet potato and soy samosa with yogurt sauce. My dish was worth getting for the yogurt sauce alone, not to mention the perfectly crispy pastry it accompanied. And Nate’s spoons were licked clean nearly as soon as they were set down, so I think that serves as a testament that we were all off to a good start.

(chick pea spring rolls on the left, samosa in center, tuna/mango spoons to the right)

(chick pea spring rolls on the left, samosa in center, tuna/mango spoons to the right)

cute plate

empty spoons

For our entreés: Ryan went for the bacon wrapped “pork mignon” with crispy kale and sweet potatoes; Nate had the sixty second sirloin with wasabi mashed potatoes, sweet onions, and button mushrooms; and I had to try the sesame seared tuna with seaweed and cucumber salad, coconut rice, and wasabi  cream (if only because I like alliteration so much). Though I didn’t have anything from the boys except a few of Nate’s mushrooms, it was agreed between them that Ryan’s meat was the best, followed by mine, with Nate’s being ‘good, just not as good as that.’ I loved my refreshing cucumber and seaweed salad, and Ryan felt the same about my coconut rice, but I found the rice a bit sweet and rich to be a part of the main course. I was also just  getting a bit full by this point, I admit. In fact we all were, but most happily.

pork mignon

ryan’s bacon-wrapped ‘pork mignon’

nate's sixty second sirloin

nate’s sixty second sirloin

my sesame seared tuna

my sesame seared tuna

I was the one to be “out-ordered” (as we’ve so fondly taken to calling it) during dessert, however. I’d rank Ryan’s choice– the spiced chai cheesecake with ginger whipped cream— the best for sure. Nate’s banana fritters with vanilla bean ice cream were also very good, and reminded me a lot of Thailand actually. I had the coconut panna cotta, which was good and also reminded me of Thailand, but didn’t seem nearly as luxurious as the boys’ choices.

"well when you just order a glass of milk, you can't expect it to be as good as the real desserts."

“well when you just order a glass of milk, you can’t expect it to be as good as the real desserts.”

my family is so weird.

my family is so weird.

It ended up being a most excellent evening with my wee siblings.

And the madness wasn’t even over! Last night I had a mini Siips (*kisses finger, points to sky*) reunion with Phil and Kate at Orzo. I see Phil probably more than I really want to (kidding!) but it had been a long while since either of us had seen Kate so it became a fantastic little catch-up session/opportunity to saturate a few hours with usage of the word “gauche”. And by “little” I mean we were definitely the last table to leave, with all the waitstaff tapping their feet behind the bar, casting us irksome glances (kidding again… kind of ).

(click to see menu, though it may differ slightly)

(click photo to see menu, though it may differ slightly)

On the online menu you might notice there’s a scallop appetizer listed that Phil and I both had our eye on, but which ended up not actually being on the menu for that evening. No matter; we all ended up being more than satisfied with our choices of the roasted pumpkin salad, dates, pumpkin seeds, and roasted walnut brown butter (Kate), 18 month aged prosciutto di parma bruschetta, fresh mozzarella, and basil oil (Phil), and saganaki: crispy halloumi, pomegranate, persimmon, apple, hazelnut crema, and crushed pistachios (by process of elimination, me. Also… read: fried cheese).

oh yeah, can't forget they start your meal with complimentary hummus. BONUS!

oh yeah, can’t forget they start your meal with complimentary hummus. BONUS!

i repeat: fried cheese

i repeat: fried cheese

kate's pumpkin salad

kate’s pumpkin salad

phil's very fancy bruschetta. nothing gauche about it.

phil’s very fancy bruschetta. nothing gauche about it.

Moving on! At this point we were probably about three-quarters of the way through a tempranillo whose name I can’t remember, and which we allowed the waiter to talk us into after Phil emitted an enthusiastic, “Sounds boring!” after being told about the wine special. (Tres gauche.) No harm, no foul, though, as it was a pretty enjoyable bottle. Our entreé selections: organic Faroe Island salmon, fall vegetables, basil-garlic pistou, potatoes, and nicoise olives (Kate), cast iron seared bronzini, spicy calamari, chorizo butter, and local chicory (Phil), and the linguini and clams, pancetta, parsley, white wine, and garlic butter (again, by process of elimination, me. Also see that ‘pancetta’? Yeah. Me neither.)

the sauce on this was to die for.

the sauce on this was to die for.

i don't know... what's a bronzini with you?

i don’t know… what’s a bronzini with you?

oh right. pancetta, like the thickest fattiest bacon imaginable. riddling the dish of someone who's been known to talk about how intelligent and monogamous pigs are. oh well, sending it back would have been very gauche. they were easy to pick out, undoubtedly lent guilty-pleasure-worthy flavor to the dish, and were a bonus for phil to eat. win win win?

oh right. pancetta, like the thickest fattiest bacon imaginable. riddling the dish of someone who’s been known to talk about how intelligent and monogamous pigs are. oh well, sending it back would have been very gauche. they were easy to pick out, undoubtedly lent guilty-pleasure-worthy flavor to the dish, and were a bonus for phil to eat. win win win?

(oh yeah, when the tempranillo went from three-quarters finished to four-quarters finished, we re-upped with the gran familia rioja: an old favorite from siips.) also-- shells not in the shell bowl! gauche!

(oh yeah, when the tempranillo went from three-quarters finished to four-quarters finished, we re-upped with the gran familia rioja: an old favorite from siips.) also– shells not in the shell bowl! gauche!

The idea of dessert at this point was a bit torturous. I was very precariously on the edge of becoming uncomfortably full. Kate was bringing her classic tiramisu back home to her dad/babysitter, but Phil and I were forced to actually indulge in our desserts (the horror!). I got the semi-sweet chocolate pot de créme (much more fun to say without a French accent, as it turns out) and Phil named his brown butter panna cotta the best panna cotta he’d ever had (a bit of a change from my coconut panna cotta at Bang! the night before).

pot de créme

pot de créme

best panna cotta on the planet

best panna cotta on the planet

a very welcome gift, i'm sure

a very welcome gift, i’m sure

And then there was a really beautiful snow as we were leaving. What more could you ask for?ollie snowOne year ago: Penang, Again (Part One)
Two years ago: October 26-27: Arrival in Kolkata