Friday, July 30, 2010

Cafe Rustica Redux

As anyone who has read my notes on Richmond restaurants knows, Andy Howell's Café Rustica is among my favorite spots in the city. Compared to most restaurants of comparable pedigree, Rustica churns out consistently excellent food for better prices. I have yet to have a bad meal at the joint, even on what I would call at the time one of their "off" nights.

Tonight was decidedly not an "off" night. In fact, with a new menu debuting in the past two weeks, the kitchen seems to be revived and putting more energy into the food. (Mind you, there was no lack of energy before.) The mix of locally-sourced, reasonably-priced Continental comfort food is well-intact. From the pomodoro pie to the steak to the mediterranean short stack to the pot roast, everything that came to the table was well-prepared and delicious. Even the beet salad seemed to have gained a little extra microgreens and a little extra zing on the roasted walnuts. My only regret? That Howell took the Portuguese stew off the menu before I tried it.

The tab with a bottle of '07 Chinon Cab Franc and a glass of Rueda for L's mother? $127. With tax and tip. That's for four of us, and we all walked away sated and stuffed, wishing we had a little more room for the peanut-butter-and-jelly creme brulée or blueberry mascarpone. But back to the price: $127, after tax and a good tip. It's tough to find comparable food at that price anywhere in the city. And with a front-of-house staff that makes the place feel like home, there's little wonder it has become our go-to place.

Next step, testing the place on the kid. Then again maybe we'll keep it as a date-night secret.