Saturday, August 11, 2007

Art and the Old City

On Friday we drove down to Shockoe Bottom. We were fortunate enough to find a free parking spot close by and wandered over to House of Lukaya – a cool little shop located at 1717 East Main St. offering handcrafted items, including some marvelous aprons from Modern June. On this night the House featured paintings by Edward Alan Gross. I loved the vibrant colors; the big eyes on the faces; the rabbits that were in a couple of the paintings; and the use of tea cups, old clocks, and broken rulers in some of the other works. My favorite portrayed a man and a woman in a boat and was titled “all is fair.”

Afterwards we headed over to the Old City Bar. Of course, no one was sitting on the patio; it was just too damn hot. We traipsed up the stairs hoping that the place wasn’t packed. We had no reservations and it was after 7 PM. While the bar was packed, the dining area was practically empty. Seemed unusual for a Friday night, but we celebrated our good fortune with a Cosmopolitan and a Mojito. As we sipped our cocktails in a large booth we admired the surroundings – dark wood, high ceilings, old political cartoons hanging on the wall, etched glass chandeliers, and a few old Asian sculptures. Back in the day, men would have smoked cigars here (thank goodness that is not allowed now!).

We began our meal in earnest with salads – Romaine with Roma Tomatoes, Basil, Fresh Mozzarella, Croustades, and tossed with a Classic Caesar Dressing and garnished with thinly sliced Red Onion for me. While the salad was decent, I did not see or taste much in the basil department. The amount of dressing was generous in the extreme and, thus, overpowered the more subtle taste of the mozzarella. I ended up placing the mozzarella cubes on the croustades to experience them sans dressing. My husband fared much better in his salad choice – Shenandoah Salad with Baby Greens tossed with Fresh Apples, Cashews, and Swiss Cheese with a Sweet Vidalia Onion Vinaigrette. A refreshing salad for a hot day. And the dressing garnered extreme raves.

For dinner we ordered a 2004 Geyser Peak Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley. Yummy wine. Slight tannin upon the first sip; medium to heavy in weight, yet very smooth; lots of dark dried red fruit flavor, particularly black cherry. To eat my husband selected Steak Diane РPeppercorn Crusted Twin Tournedos with Cognac Dijon Cream. I ordered one of the specials РPork Tournedos with Garlic Confit and Sweet Onion Sauce. Both dishes were accompanied by saut̩ed sugar snap peas and mashed potatoes with chives and smoked Gouda. Both entrees were very tasty. My husband liked the fact that the peppercorns had been crushed more finely than usual. The beef was a perfect medium rare. I had two generous portions of extremely tender pork tenderloin. The garlic and sauce were divine. The sugar snap peas were indeed sweet and ever-so-slightly crunchy. The regulars who read this blog know that I love me some mashed potatoes. Sometimes restaurants get it right; sometimes they fail miserably. Old City Bar did not let me down and they provided a new twist that I had not experienced before Рsmoked Gouda. These potatoes were fantastic. I loved the smoky flavor and the chives. The peas and potatoes were the sides of the day. I hope that the potatoes are a regular feature.

We had no room for dessert and, in fact, left with some of our beef and pork tournedos in a box (I'm already looking forward to leftovers). I would like to go back in cooler weather and experience the patio. It looked like a wonderful spot to watch the comings and goings of the Bottom. There were other menu items that also peaked my interest – Smoked Duck Wellington, Crab Harrison, and Roasted Quail stuffed with Hunter’s Sausage.


Ian Kelley said...

I couldn't thank you enough for these comments. Feel free to introduce yourself the next time you come in. If you come in the fall/winter we do Cornbread Crusted Rockfish that you will definately enjoy (assuming you like fish).

Janet said...

We went to Old City Bar for Dh's birthday in May and had a very nice meal. The service was outstanding as well.

Kelly McCants said...

Hi Kelly from Modern June here! Thanks for the bloggy love! I am very glad you like my aprons!!!!

I look forward to reading your blog!

Phillip said...

I love Old City Bar. Next time you are in there try the crab harrison and be sure the save room for desert! The whiskey butter over apricot bread pudding is unbelievable!