For our first restaurant blog, David and I chose the 128 café. I know that David has eaten here on several occasions, but for me this was only my second visit. I’m not sure why I don’t get over there more often. Hopefully this is something I can change in the future. We left the kids at home for this outing and made it a night out for the grown-ups in honor of St. Valentine’s Day. In a nutshell 128 Cafe is a small restaurant with great food and great service. They change their menu often to match the seasons and back that up with some stock items that they always serve. We started our meal with some appetizers. I was drawn to the Saffron Risotto , but they are known for their Roasted Garlic and I couldn’t decide. We solved this dilemma by ordering both of them.
When the appetizers arrived I recalled from our last visit how much I liked their portion sizes. When split four ways these starter dishes gave us each just a few bites to whet our appetite for the main course. I know the roasted garlic looks like a large portion, but fanning the bread makes it appear like there is a lot and gives it a nice presentation at the same time. Both of these appetizers had wonderfully complex flavors blended together to create something delicious. The rich risotto was blended with the tangy shrimp sauce. I almost wished this was available as a main dish. The roasted garlic is served with a creamy goat cheese and apple chutney. To eat it you just popped one of the garlic cloves out of the head and it spread like butter on the toasted baguette. Add a little cheese and some chutney. Yum.
Prior to the main course I enjoyed a cup of their soup of the day, a creamy beet soup with a dollop of horseradish sour cream. I enjoyed it immensely.
For our main course we agreed that everyone would order something different so we would have a diverse range of dishes to blog about. In reality when the food arrived I focused on my own meal. David, Catherine (David’s wife), and Kira each ordered Pan Roasted Amish Chicken, Grilled Vegetables and Shrimp with saffron couscous, and Almond Encrusted Red Snapper respectively. Each of the meals looked amazing, but I was set on enjoying my Braised Pork with Potato Gnocchi and roasted onions and tomato. I did take one bite of the fried masa cake that David’s chicken was served with, but that was my only sampling of the other meals. I love tamales so I was glad I got to try the masa cake.
While there are a lot of great colors in this picture my meal was probably the least pretty. I took this as a good sign. If they didn’t have to go out of their way to make the meal look visually stunning it must taste amazing. At its heart this meal was meat and potatoes. Which means of course that I loved it. with all of the cooking I have done in the last year my palate has grown significantly, but I grew up in a meat and potatoes house and at heart that is what I really enjoy. The snapper that Kira got had lentils on top of it and she said that gave it a kind of comfort food feel. The braised pork had that same comfort food appeal combined with great cooking, quality ingredients, and a little extra flavor thanks to the sage. The onions were roasted perfectly. They were crispy, but only the edges had been caramelized. The pork was tender and melted in my mouth. The meat was as easy to cut through as the gnocchi. And again the portion size was very well done. I finished the meal satisfied, but not full. Which of course left room for dessert. The service kept the meal well paced too which helped make the dessert decision easier.
For dessert it was every man (or woman) for themselves. I ordered the Espresso Crème Brûlée, which I already raved about on a different site, but I have no problem writing about it again. Much like the Braised pork was very fancy meat and potatoes, the crème brûlée is just fancy pudding. Delicious, sugar encrusted, decadent espresso infused pudding. If i had been eating this at home I would have grabbed my spoonula and scraped the cup clean.
Catherine ordered the Bread Pudding and Kira and David both ordered the brownie, but I’ll let him tell you about that.
With our meal we all shared a bottle of red wine, a Bielsa Garnacha from Spain. It was a satisfying addition to a great meal.