Last night I was lucky enough to catch the tail end of this year’s Charlottesville Restaurant Week with a dinner at Brasserie Montiel, a relaxed, yet enticing, restaurant tucked into a small shopping center somewhat “off the grid” of the more well-known and more frequented (at least by me) dining establishments.
As the name would indicate, Brasserie Montiel is a European-inspired restaurant, but Chef Montiel infuses the menu with Latin flavors and traditions, making it very enticing to the Spanish soul I’m pretty sure I secretly posess.
It was also chosen for being the only restaurant blatantly promoting a ”can be made vegetarian” dish on its menu that did not involve lots of (forbidden for me right now) cheese.
Although I was
very a bit jealous of the lilies I saw on other tables, I appreciated the happy vibe of simple faux flower centerpiece.
In addition to loving any restaurant where the menu is presented on a chalkboard, I also find small pleasure in any restaurant that brings you something for free. Like bread.
*So I guess what I’ve realized is, at heart, I am a Latina elementary school student lacking in proper decorum and etiquette?
*And then lament the fact that there are no ducks nearby to whom you can feed the crusts. So you eat them yourself and then get a rather large bread ball of a stomachache…..oops.
Being a diner who–as y’all know very well by now–cannot make a decision to sve her life when it comes to the menu, you’d think that I would be able to attack a pared down restaurant week menu with ease. Not so. Instead I asked for two appetizers and skipped dessert. (!)
Although seemingly blasphemous, I stand by my decision as an ingenius one, as I was able to sample this Butternut Squash & Ginger Soup with lump crabmeat garnish that tasted, in the most wonderful way, like the essence of pureed butternut and fresh ginger. Completely unadulterated in its flavors, the smell alone as it was placed before me was enough to inspire culinary contentment.
The fact that it tasted as pure and heavenly as it smelled was a bonus. [And yes, I did eat some with crab. I had to see what the pairing would be like...and let me tell you, seafood and savory squash was unexpected, but a revelation.]
I was, yet again, surprised, not expecting for it to be served at room temperature, with the carrots still a bit crisp to the bite. The chipotle flavor wasn’t as strong as I thought it might be, but overall everything was very fresh and light, with the bonus of beets!
For the main course, the meat eater across from me chose the Beef Stroganoff in wine sauce with potato gratin. It looked lovely–and I’m told it tasted great, too–but I had no interest in beef.^
^Me being practically vegan now must be a great joy to the people who go out to eat with me, as my fork doesn’t wander nearly so much as it used to.
What I had interest in was my “pozole sans pork,” presented with a beautiful avocado salsa garnish and a side of housemade tortilla chips.
Absolutely phenomenal. There was a very subtle heat in this incredibly hearty, hominy-stuffed stew. I only wish there had been more of the thick broth for me to slurp, because I tried my darndest to scrape around the hominy to get more spoonfuls of it by itself! [Note to Chef Montiel: Sell the broth in a bowl. Or a bucket.]
There was dessert brought to the table, but the scary-dairy fairy^ told me I better not indulge. Somehow, a beautiful (and former favorite) pastry whose name means ‘three milks’ somehow doesn’t inspire confidence in a potential lactose-intolerant lady like myself.*
^Yet another sign I’m actually 10 years old.
*And I was starting to suffer from the bread-ball induced food coma I alluded to earlier.