Monday, December 29, 2008

Singing the Praises of a Fat Canary

The day after Christmas, I made my annual trek to Williamsburg. My husband still works in the ‘burg, so I tag along with him once a year to check out some familiar haunts and to marvel at how much the place has grown since I lived there six years ago.

I always have to eat lunch at The Cheese Shop in Merchant’s Square. The smoked turkey sandwich on wheat with extra house (which I have raved about before) is probably the only thing I truly miss on a regular basis.

After work my hubby and I try to eat at a nice place, mainly, to check out new restaurants and make a few comparisons to our current city of Richmond. Back in the day there were few places that we frequented. Le Yaca treated us well on a consistent basis and The Trellis was generally satisfying. The Colonial Taverns were always so inconsistent that we hardly ever ate there and still have no real desire to do so. The Williamsburg Inn, though nice (especially with Hans Schadler as Executive Chef), was quite expensive.

Now, we still find it difficult locating a great place to eat. A few years ago we tried The Blue Talon and had such a horrific experience and such evil email responses from the chef and management when we complained that we will never go there again. No way, no how.

And this year, we had a cocktail at The Trellis before dinner. We were pretty much ignored, even though it was early and not busy. I felt like such a tourist…

But, in the end, Williamsburg pulled it together this year and delivered a superb dinner and fantastic service. Fat Canary had both of us singing her praises. In years’ past we could never get a reservation. The place was that popular. This year with a bit more planning and a perusal of Open Table, we were able to secure a table for two.

As we entered, a hostess graciously relieved us of our coats and seated us in a tall-ceilinged green tinged open area. We were presented with the menu, a wine list (printed that very day), and a reserve wine list. Because Fat Canary is connected with The Cheese Shop in Merchants Square, and, subsequently, the wine shop in the basement, the wine list had fairly reasonable prices for a location in the heart of the tourist area. It took us a while to make up our minds and Dan, our waiter, displayed a great patience. We finally selected a 2005 Telegramme Chateauneuf-du-Pape for $46. We were well pleased.

Deciding what to eat turned out to be a chore, also. We wanted to try all of the appetizers, but, yet, we also wanted to order entrees. More patience exhibited by our waiter as we conversed and changed our minds several times. For starters we finally settled on House-made Mozzarella with Virginia Ham, Fennel, Artichoke, and Olive Salad ($12.95). The generous portion also sat upon pureed basil. Oh so heavenly! And we also ordered a special appetizer of the evening which featured rare tuna, flash-seared, encased in a thin wasabi crust ($14.95). Equally pleasing.

Other appetizer temptations included Carpaccio of Beef Tenderloin, Maine Lobster with Rosemary Grits, and Quail with Arugula. Next time we plan to go to the bar and just order appetizers!

For entrees we ordered Pan Seared Sea Scallops and Crispy Pork Belly, Farro, Brussels Sprouts, and Roasted Tomato ($22.50). The scallops were lightly seared and very sweet. We also had Grilled Beef Tenderloin, Green Beans, Oyster Mushroom and Leek Tart, Roquefort Butter ($34.95). Neither of us really like blue cheese (yes, you are allowed to boo me, if you must), so I asked if Chive Butter could be substituted. I had seen this compound butter used for another dish. Dan almost tripped over this request, but once he realized that I requested a butter that was being used he said it would not be an issue. And he was right. While the tart was too mushroomy for me, it turned out to be a good thing. The tenderloin was no small cut of meat and I wanted to savor every bite of medium rare yumminess. And all along the way Dan dropped by to refresh our wine glasses.

We could not resist peeking at the dessert menu and then ordering Profiteroles with Caramel Ice Cream drizzled with Chocolate and Caramel Sauce ($7.25). A tasty, yet fairly light dessert to end the evening.

We thoroughly enjoyed dining at Fat Canary and will sing her praises to all who are willing to listen. One more interesting morsel – The restaurant name does not refer to a bird, but alcohol. It references a poem by John Lyly from the Colonial era: “Oh for a bowl of fat Canary, rich Palermo, sparkling sherry…”

Fat Canary
410 Duke of Gloucester St.
Merchants Square
Williamsburg, VA

Fat Canary on Urbanspoon


Eiffel Tartan said...

Scott and I ate at Fat Canary when I was in Williamsburg for that AP conference this summer. We also had an enjoyable dining experience, but I can't for the life of me remember what I ate. I do remember that it was very yummy.... I want to say scallops. Hmmm.

MTG said...

My wife and I ate there for our One Year Anniversary this past September. Fantastic experience! The mozzarella was the softest and best tasting we had ever had! I cna't remember what we each got that night, but we will definitely return when in the 'burg next if we can get reservations..