Friday, May 04, 2007

(La) Tavola on the River...

...the dirty river, that is indeed a little green. But from afar it could be called picturesque.

Actually, I never even ventured to look over the railing and see if the river was indeed in view. Next time, I will make a point to go check it out. Ambiance was awesome. Deck/Patio was busy. I can't believe I had never been out there before!

"Next time". That is what I like to call, "foreshadowing." From the usage of this foreshadowing it is implied that indeed the restaurant was a winner and deserving of a second visit. It helps that their new menu starts TODAY.

Their menu is one page, no back, separated into sections of (and this is my language, not theirs): Appetizers, Pizzas, First Course Pastas, Meal Like Pastas, and Proteins. There is a Tapas menu, which is quite small and seems to change daily. This Italian restaurant could freak out the plebians, as the choices are not lengthy, but honestly, that just means they can't skimp or half ass on something. I appreciate that. But it also raises the expectations.

As in my real life, I am attempting to have no expectations; I am uping the ante on the food life expectations. Oh they're high! For example, I think restaurants need to be doing a "bite" from the chef. Something not on the menu. Something to give you an idea of the kind of head a chef has. Where his allegiances lay. La Tavola's chef likes fennel and tomato based sauces. If I wanted to get this across, perhaps a bite sized brushcetta with a tomato and italian sausage bite would've gotten that across.

Onto the description of dinner:
We began with a large portion of the steamed mussels, in a tomato broth with the usual toasted bread accompaniment. The mussels were cooked perfectly; however, I am not really a tomato broth fan. It wasn't that the broth was poor, because it was good for dipping bread in. But the acidity just does something to the flavors of the mussel and it just isn't the same as a more butter based "broth". And this goes for any seafood, for me. Not sure what it is about my palatte that I just don't care for it. Before this mussel experience, I don't recall the last time I had mussels or especially mussels with tomato sauce, so I was wanting to try it again. There I go with the whole "try something new" thing.

Choosing an entree was difficult. As this winter was the Winter of Gnocchi, I've been wanting to try a gnocchi from a professional, to see where mine measures up. So I went with a Gnocchi dish, with a cream sauce featuring pancetta and artichokes. The dish was baked off, so it was bubbling, and if you recall my hot food thing (some might call it neurotic), I liked this a lot! Luckily, I had a dining partner that could help me finish this off. It was excellent, but as in most Italian places, a large portion. So how do my gnocchis compare? Lets just say I was giving myself little high fives in my head. Texture was dead on. And in the future, screw the ridges from a fork. If the Tavola chef doesn't roll his over something to give it grooves, I sure as hell am not either.

On the other side of the table (I love the mystery of "who is over there?"), the tortellini filled with pork and some other meat, was ordered. It had that tomato broth again, but with the meat filled torts, it worked. Here is where the fennel came out a bit too much for my taste. But it is my problem, really, as I can see how many would like it. The tortellinis were HUGE and obviously handmade, and I SO appreciate this and look forward to trying maybe a ravioli or other unique tortellini there in the future.

Dessert. Tiramisu. Dry. Sorry guys, it wasn't that great. I'm a fan of the lady fingers having an obvious soakage of coffee liqueur. This one didn't. And there was a lemon flavor there.

And onto the drinks! Madonna Montepulciano. Described as a dark cherry with spice, and it drank very much like a red Zinfandel. Which I love me some Red Zin, and I especially like it with Italian food. It drank smoothly, maybe too smoothly...but honestly, who says that? Too smoothly? "Oh yea, it went down perfectly, but I wish it hadn't so I didn't enjoy it so much." I hate that.

And if you go, Kali rocked. She was our server and was just all peppy and pleasant. And when I ordered, she said I was "so smart" and picked the best thing. Ha! I win!


Lisa0007 said...

I've heard really good things about this place and can't wait to go sometime! Thanks for the preview.

Anonymous said...

Your dining partner must have been very entertaining if it took yu 4 hours to eat! Oh, Wait you didn't mention that did you.