Tuesday, April 5, 2011

300 East

The Food Baby Bottom Line:
  • Cozy, welcoming atmosphere in a prime Dilworth location
  • The menu is, indeed, eclectic...but everything is tasty
  • White mocha bread pudding makes me eye-roll and grunt simultaneously
Last Wednesday, I was feeling like a pretty lucky girl! Two of my most fabulous friends, Kiley and Zuzana, took me to 300 East for a very low-key birthday celebration. I just turned the big 2-8, and on April Fool’s day no less. Yes, I’m an April Fool’s baby….that explains a lot about me, I believe.
300 East is a Dilworth staple. The restaurant is in a renovated old house on East Boulevard, and the atmosphere is what you may expect from that (in a great way) – cozy, intimate, and has a historic feel. We were seated in one of the very front tables, near windows looking out onto East Boulevard, and anxiously ordered a bottle of Cotes Du Rhone to start with. Take note: Wines are half-price on Wednesdays!

As the sun went down, the dining room became dim and sexy. We decided to order some appys from our cutie-pie server Brooks (hot name): Baked Marinated Goat Cheese, and the Chesapeake Style Crab Cakes. I was ravenous and getting tipsy from the red wine, so I dove into the goat cheese hungrily. It was simply prepared and very tasty – the dish contained a hockey puck of tangy goat cheese, swimming in warm olive oil with whole roasted garlic cloves and sun-dried tomatoes. A big sexy hunk…..(no not Brooks)…..of toasty bread was served alongside. On your birthday you can eat as much bread as you want, and that is just what I did. This dish just hit the spot.

I don’t have a lot of feedback on the crab cakes – not because they weren’t good, because I don’t remember a whole lot about them. I took a picture of them, and I am reminded that the dish contains components that I enjoy, but I don’t remember doing any blissful eye-rolling or grunting or moaning – which is my usual standard of measure. So, I’m not saying they were bad…what I’m saying is that they were forgettable.

I had basically settled on my main dish before we arrived. Cubicle life allows ample time for online menu perusing. My selection was very odd for me – as the (self-proclaimed) ultimate meatatarian. I ordered a vegetarian dish that came with optional meat. I didn’t even like typing those words together just now. Optional meat - guh.
I ordered the Warm Farro Salad, which came with roasted squash, wild mushrooms, raw winter greens, and ricotta salata. Don’t all those components just sound yummy? I selected duck sausage as my optional meat, and it did not fail me. It was the smokiest sausage I’ve ever had. It was spicy and richly flavored, and I honestly can’t imagine the dish without it. Farro is a grain, which I found to be chewy and filling, and it served very well as a base for all the tasty things on top. The sauce you see encircling the plate is a balsamic reduction. Overall, I think the dish was highly successful – a bit wintry for April – but a unique dish that I really enjoyed.

Kiley, like me, had settled on her dish before arriving because she and her boyfriend adore the Black Bean and Green Chile Chicken Tortilla. I tasted a small bite, and it was pretty delish. Chicken, brown rice, monterey jack, cheddar, avocado, lime crema, and salsa, all baked on a tortilla which was definitely large enough to spilt in half between the ladies.

My favorite bite of the night? The White Chocolate Bread Pudding with coffee bean praline and white mocha sauce. And not just because it came out with a candle on it. Because it made me to the eye-roll-grunt-moan thing. It has a custardy texture and the perfect amount of sweet balanced with just a hint of bitter coffee flavor. Wow. Washing this down with a glass of champagne with chambord made me nothing short of giddy.

So here are a few final impressions: Everything we had was pretty good. The bread pudding was excellent. The service was wonderful. I have to say the menu is all over the place, from Greek, to Italian, to Mexican and more. The “global flavor” wouldn’t bother me, except I don’t think it gels with the homey/neighborhood vibe of the restaurant in the old house. But I have to say, if that is my only complaint about my experience at 300 East, then overall it’s pretty dank.
PS. On the door of the Men’s room there is a picture of a dog with a red rocket.

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