Friday, September 5, 2008

Dinner for two. Smith.

Smith is on the eastern side of Capitol Hill, a few blocks out of my way and therefore mostly untrodden territory for me. Like the other main arteries spreading across the hill 15th avenue boasts cafés and bookstores and grocery stores and restaurants and pubs and funky little shops selling goodness knows what. I have been meaning to haul myself over here to try this new pub for a while now, but it has not been until tonight that I (and my usual dining companion, C.) finally made it here. I remember this space from when it was a barbecue place with flat-screen tvs in the corners of the room; the bar is in the same place, but instead of televisions on the walls there are taxidermied animals and boring oil portraits. Apparently the owner - who has some other bars and clubs around the city - is fond of decorating with stuffed animals. The taxidermied kind.

We slide into one of the booths that line one wall (long trestle tables set with mis-matched chairs run down the middle of the room) and think about our dinner. I choose the pork shank. It is crisp-crusted and tender inside, the meat falling from two slender bones, into a pool of parsley sauce. (Later I find out that the pork shank is brined for two days, soaked in duck fat, and then deep-fried to order, which accounts for why it was so tasty). I need some vegetables, so I order the tomato salad, flower-like slices of heirloom tomatoes topped with fine curls of arugula, fresh beans (inexplicably still with ends on, which would never have been allowed in my mother's kitchen, or indeed mine), and bacon bits, unfortunately rather overwhelmed by a lake of olive oil that completely obscures the otherwise perfect vinaigrette.

For dessert, C. suggests ice cream. There is a new place in Wallingford that we have been wanting to try. (I had heard about Molly Moon from those same bloggers that steered me over to Spinasse a few days ago). They use organic, locally sourced (whenever possible) ingredients and offer flavors like Lavender Honey and Salted Caramel. When we get there the shop is busy, full of young couples and families with very small children. It is a narrow, high-ceiling space, Scandinavian Modern, all light colors and pale wood and pendant lamps like frosted milk bottles. C. is more restrained and orders two scoops of ice cream in a waffle cone, but I go all the way and have a chocolate ice cream sundae with vanilla bean caramel and hot fudge sauces, all topped with whipped cream. It is the perfect way to end a beautiful evening, and as I drive home I can still taste the caramel and chocolate, and I am already wanting more.

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