Monday, June 21, 2010

Oddfellows Cafe & Bar

We stopped in for dinner at Oddfellows on a Sunday evening around six. We were seated immediately, handed our menus and asked if we knew what we wanted to drink before I had opened the menu. It didn't feel like she was rushing us. It was the inquiry that waiters will make on the off chance that you are already set on a glass of red wine or a screwdriver and you want it right away. Need another minute? Absolutely no problem and the waitress disappears only to reappear at exactly the right moment when she could tell we had reached a decision.

Oddfellows has a  big dining room with wood everywhere, friendly looking descriptions of the espresso menu on the walls, bottles lining shelves, glassware stacked high, wait staff roaming between the tables. The tables are wood, the chairs are metal and there are communal tables as well as small tables for 2 (or 4). They use paper napkins but replace your flatware for new courses. The tables are snug and the people next you will discreetly (or not) peer at your food when it is set down. We peered at theirs too and seeing their food made me want to return for a second meal. It is not a place for a private conversation but it is still romantic in a casual way. When we got home later that evening we asked "the wonderful woman we trust with our children when we are away" if she'd been there and she said she had. She described it as hit or miss. I sensed annoyance from her and am guessing she has had more than one not so good experience there. We had a hit but I know how restaurants can be hit or miss. Are you there on a busy night? Are you there for lunch or dinner? Did you get a good waitress/waiter? Did you get a cranky chef? Are the other diners being too demanding?

I ordered a glass of Bordeaux and my husband ordered a screwdriver. His screwdriver tasted like it was made with fresh orange juice and with just the right amount of vodka. I ate the orange slice they left on top of his glass and it was sweet and juicy. The glass of wine I had was disappointing but it was the only truly disappointing thing about the meal. I'm not sure if it was just my preference because my husband liked the wine but it didn't do anything for me. It seemed a little flat and there wasn't a lot of aroma when I stuck my nose in the glass. My next glass was better after I asked for a recommendation from our waitress though it wasn't phenomenal either.

We started our meal by sharing the baby green salad with spring onions. The dressing tasted like it had been made with Dijon, red wine vinegar, olive oil, with the spring onions mixed in early so they would pickle a little bit. It was also sprinkled with diced green onions and it was perfectly dressed, the baby lettuce leaves were coated with dressing without being drenched. On the side they served a toasted baguette slice slathered with fresh ricotta with a mild lemon flavor. The ricotta was light and airy. By itself or with a more mellow salad dressing it might have been perfect but I think it was a little dull next to the strong salad dressing. Overall this was a good dish, beautifully presented and very tasty.

The free range roasted chicken that my husband ordered came with a side of peas and pancetta. The peas were big and bright green and they looked (and tasted) like they had just been shucked. The pancetta was thick like bacon with quite a bit of fat still attached. I liked the side but if you don't like too much fat attached to your meat it might turn you off (my husband wasn't too keen on it). The chicken had been roasted to perfection with super crispy light skin and super moist meat. He sliced in and we could tell it was perfectly cooked just by appearance.

My main was polenta and meatballs made with currants and pine nuts. I don't think this dish is for everyone but I loved it. It was served in a low flat bowl that had been filled with polenta. Three meatballs were placed in the center of the bowl along with some flavorful tomato sauce. The polenta was creamy while still holding some texture. It was sweet but not overly so and it went perfectly with the meatballs. The meatballs were soft and moist  and the tomato sauce added just the right amount of acidity to balance the dish.

For dessert we had a tart made with a mixture of blueberries and raspberries along with a slice of  chocolate cake. The desserts were good but not as good as the rest of the meal. The fruit in the tart was just sweet enough and the flaky crust was well made. The chocolate cake was moist and my husband loved the frosting but the cake itself lacked character. I guess I think chocolate cake should make some sort of statement (strong chocolate, espresso hints, mellow and sweet) but this one didn't.

On another visit we had lunch and ordered an egg salad sandwich (a special), a cheese plate (shown above) and a bowl of chicken coconut soup (a daily soup). The service was the same as our previous visit, friendly and prompt. At lunch you order at the counter and while the line was long, it went quickly but not so quickly as to give anyone poor service. The food was delivered promptly. The beautiful cheese plate had great cheese, delicious honey drenched pistachios and some apricots and cherries. The chicken coconut soup was tasty but could have used a little more 'meat' to it as it was mostly broth. The egg salad sandwich was served with a small mixed greens salad but was inedible as a sandwich because of the way it was constructed (not because of the way it tasted). It was more of a scoop (or three) of egg salad on top of some bread that you would eat with a fork. Despite the small complaints it was another lovely meal at Oddfellows.

Go! Eat! Enjoy!

Oddfellows Cafe & Bar on Urbanspoon

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