The Blue Bottle, which is open for dinner only on Fridays and Saturdays, has an unpretentious interior and the comfortable feeling of an established place that's on the urban edge of what's happening.
Managing the food for a restaurant that is open only two nights a week must be a daunting challenge to freshness and profitability, but the key is probably the very circumspect and limited menu.We chose a 1998 pinot noir from a better-than-usual wine list and foie gras in a complementing sauce with chestnuts, blackberries and delicate baked cabbage ($11). We also shared a fresh salad ($5) of mescaline and romaine. The salad was too good and too large for us to finish. After our luxurious beginning, butter-poached lobster ($23) was perhaps too much in the same vein, although our other choices were hardly thrift fare, and as good as they sounded, roasted vegetables with garlic mayonnaise ($15) didn't suit our cravings. A dry-aged strip steak ($25) and pan-seared venison rib chops ($27) were delicious. A certain minimalism prevailed through our meal. Nothing was omitted, nor was anything added that didn't need to be there.
We ended with a dessert of some fresh berries, a couple of scoops of vanilla ice cream and a dollop of whipped cream. It was a nice ending to a good dinner. Part of the charm was that our very helpful and accommodating server made us and the dinner special by giving us the luxury of leisure and pampering. Davis Morton
Blue Bottle 200 W. Broad St. (at Jefferson Street) Dinner: Friday - Saturday 644-9445
After a few wrong turns, I found Sunday's, tucked away in front of a gorgeous lake in Brandermill.
Despite the boardwalk and the "beach," the menu's blatant nod to the tropics seemed odd: Jamaican habanero wings. St. Martin burger. Aruba shrimp-salad sandwich.
Pizza ($8.55 to $10.95) is a popular starter and comes big enough to share. The house salads ($3.45) are fresh and generous, but the dressings seem prefab. Lunch entrees range from $6.95 to $15.95 and run the gamut: There are sandwiches, main-course salads, pasta, burgers and a selection of fresh fish dishes. On my visit, my Trinidad tuna ($13.95) was perfectly cooked and went beautifully with Asian-flavored soba noodles. The lunch special, seasoned grilled shrimp ($6.95), was dry and too salty. The accompanying rice was bland and lacking in personality.
Do not miss dessert (all $4.45). The blueberry white-chocolate bread pudding sounds odd. Utterly delicious. The Elizabeth cake a chocolate roulade with cream-cheese filling is pretty and festive and not too sweet. We left Sunday's full, content and happy not to be dressed in skimpy resort clothing. Sally Belk King
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