Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Cafe Chloe- San Diego

Frenching for Brunch
Café Chloe (721 9th Ave) was the perfect place to meet the girls for Saturday brunch - classy and sassy. Its 1940’s Parisian flare gave off a whiff of contemporary nostalgia, as if we’d been placed in a scratchy black and white film with modern day conveniences. Aretha Franklin’s, “Baby, baby sweet baby” wafted over Chloe's marble-topped tables and sleek, silver stools surrounding the counter where a waitress mixed champagne with exotic elixirs like lavender and pomegranate.

Real cane cola and root beer came in glass bottles, but I chose the latte served in a small bowl without a handle- I liked doing the two handed lift to sip my froth. Their lavender lemonade was phenomenal and pretty in pink with a garnish of purple. Our waitress said lavender tea was the secret to its strong, floral flavor- ideal for summer sipping. Salt and pepper came in petite, ceramic dishes and sugar was served in raw, lump form- attention to details like these is noticeable (and noteworthy.)

On my last visit, I had gone for the heavy comfort of macaroni and cheese with crispy chunks of pancetta (good, though extremely filling), but today…was a day for flambé. I loved how they baked crème fraiche right on top of the flatbread and then paved the surface with small rectangles of bacon, chopped and crunchy like a hundred savory Scrabble tiles- it scored major points. Caramelized onions tied it all together with a subtle sweetness that quickly inducted me into the clean plate club.

Even when I brought my meat n’ potatoes man here, he loved his poached eggs served over toast with a mushroom/sage buerre blanc. He was surprised that this petite plate filled him up by layering complimentary ingredients. And that is all part of Chloe's charm. They perfect the European philosophy of satisfying the appetite by depth, not width.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Anthology- San Deigo music/dining

Greatest Hits
I wouldn’t recommend coming to Anthology (1337 India St.) for dinner since it's impossible to have a conversation over the music, but if you’re going for a show, this venue is spot-on.

Cobalt blue neon buzzed in loopy cursive above a well-lit entrance like a stop on the red carpet. We were seated in the lounge behind the bar, facing the stage and multi-leveled booths built into the right wall. It was remenisent of a futuristic diorama from Epcot with its silver railings and low hanging lamps. Flatscreen TVs were stategically spaced so the band could be seen from every angle.

I would have been pissed if I had paid to sit front row in the dining area and had a bunch of moving bodies in my face, but since I had the cheap seats, I reveled in the spontaneous dance floor created when the lead singer called up the crowd.

He forgot the words to multiple songs, which was a sin since he was singing Bruce Springsteen (cover band, Thunder Road), but the rest of the musicians made up for his lack of dedication - sax and keyboards especially rocked it out.

We decided to nosh, settling on parmesan pomme frites with truffle aioli and goat cheese stuffed dates wrapped in bacon. Both were tasty, but not memorable. The highly anticipated chicken lollipops with sweet chile glaze arrived deep fried and had more of a buffalo sauce. Advertise what you’re really selling- a glorified chicken wing with the meat pushed to one end.

Another disappointment was the asparagus bisque, and I use that term begrudgingly. Lacking all the characteristics of a true bisque (heavy cream for one), this soup was like asparagus broth. I felt like Oliver Twist in the orphanage sipping this fern colored swill, but I would not be asking for, “More, sir.”

The poor waitress was swamped, mostly because of her bartenders’ snail-like saunter. I felt frustrated for her and was grateful when I finally got my goose n’ grape (her name for my Grey Goose and grapefruit- I’ll use that.) Tickets were $22 with a $15 drink/food minimum, which we would have spent on cocktails anyway. We left the dance floor sweaty and feeling like 15 again - always a sign of a good show.

My advice: come for the beats, not for the eats.