Saturday, November 27, 2010

Tavola - Charlottesville

This past summer my husband and I had the pleasure to spend 11 days in central Italy. Needless to say we ate more pasta, truffles and pecorino and drank more wine than I thought possible. Enter my renewed love for pasta. So of course we've both been reluctant yet excited to try an Italian restaurant. Enter Tavola. I decided that the night before Thanksgiving was the perfect night to finally try one from Charlottesville's Italian scene.

We headed to Tavola at 6pm and thought surely we'd be ahead of the rush. They don't take reservations and I had been warned they fill up quick. Well that was certainly true. There are only about 10 tables and about 6 more seats along the bar. Unfortuantely 6pm wasn't early enough to get a table straight away, but we did get one relatively quick.

Having spent a week in Umbria, I decided the table needed a bottle of Umbrian wine so I opted for the Col Santo Rosso (Sagrantino-Sangiovese blend) and it was excellent, especially at a mere $33/bottle. Everyone else agreed too. Considering it's $21/bottle at Market Street wine shop, that's not a bad buy at all.

After getting our wine, we decided to all get soup or salad to start which was great, except for the teaser "salad of the day" which was sold out by the time we ordered (circa 6:30pm). I still went for a salad but did one off the menu instead. The salad was a great start of things to come.

For entrees we all went for something different. I chose the red beet and leek risotto with sea scallops. It was excellent and perfectly cooked, plus a beautiful color (see picture at right). My husband went for a classic carbonara and it was delicious while not quite as heavy as I have traditionally prepared it. Others at the table had the pork saltimboca special of the day and the garganelli alla zucca (butternut squash, kale, cream and garganelli pasta). Overall everyone was quite happy with the meal (though we all agreed the garganelli was the least favorite), and I was happy to have a real Italian dinner.

In short I look forward to a return visit and to trying more of the pasta and wine at Tavola!

Tavola on Urbanspoon

Friday, November 26, 2010

Maya - Charlottesville

Maya is one of the restaurants in Charlottesville that I feel like everyone has heard about and should make it to. Instead of being one of the many restaurants focused just on "eat local," it is a "eat local and southern" restaurant.

Just like every good Southern meal, the sides here are really key. So amazing in fact that you can easily do a "sides only" plate and leave full and happy (a great option for vegetarians!). Though I wasn't too impressed with the whipped potatoes (they seemed too prepared, and therefore gluten-y), the collards, butternut squash and biscuits were all amazing. The entree choices are great of course. On the night we went I decided to try the Ragged Mountain trout which came with skin on and was very lightly prepared. My husband had the pork tenderloin with bbq slaw that was so tender and delicious.

I have to say my complaint about our experience at Maya definitely wasn't the food, but it was the service. I am happy that Maya is one of the few places in town that will take reservations. We were sat promptly at 7:30 which was great. However, for some reason our waitress decided we weren't special because we weren't one of the many UVA parent-child-child's friends tables and therefore wouldn't give the money. Too bad for her. Anyways, when I asked if we could have a side of 4 rather than 3 biscuits I was told "Tonight is not the night to bother the kitchen." I was not too happy. In fact I think that she couldn't be bothered. She also mistakenly gave me the wrong side (whipped potatoes vice macaroni and cheese) and was slow to bring our water, wine and take our order. Sadly for Maya I think they need to replace this waitress, because everything that involved other staff was excellent.

In short, I will definitely make a return trip, but I think I will make sure I don't have the same server. For that reason, I'll give it a 3+ star (out of 5), hoping they can take it to a 4 after next time.

Maya on Urbanspoon

Friday, November 12, 2010

Blue Talon - Williamsburg, VA

Having spent 4 wonderful years of College in Williamsburg, going back is like going home. And what better than a cozy French bistro with true comfort food and warm colors to welcome you home? I've eaten at Blue Talon several times for brunch and lunch, but somehow had never made it for dinner. So, on a recent trip to Williamsburg we decided to go for dinner and found we were just as pleased as we had been by their daytime offerings.

For starters, there are several great options, including those for the more adventurous like frog legs, which may I say were delicious. They are lightly pan-fried and served with an incredible version of a sweet-hot sauce. I decided to go for something a little less exotic called raclette, which actually refers to the name of the cheese not the dish. Raclette is a semi-firm cows milk cheese that is good for melting. At the Blue Talon they melt it and serve it over potato wedges. It wasn't the best thing I've had a Blue Talon, and it wasn't really unique either. Next time I'll opt for trying the ever favorite escargot.

For entrees I decided to go with the true comfort French food: crepes. These were a grown-up version with a creamy mushroom-chicken filling, flavored with herbs-de-Provence and finished with asparagus and parmesan. They were so rich, creamy and full of flavor. My husband had a gnocchi topped with clams, shrimp and scallops that had a nice light sauce. The gnocchi were so light and delicate, which is perfect next to mild shellfish and seafood. Another great option they serve as a side and at lunch, is the mac and cheese. I didn't have it on this visit, but have before and it is so delicious!

If you're heading down to Williamsburg over the holidays (great shopping at the outlets, great culture along Duke of Gloucester aka DOG Street), be sure to check out Blue Talon for a cozy and delicious meal! Oh and make your free reservation at ... a favorite website of mine that Charlottesville eateries have yet to tap!

Blue Talon Bistro on Urbanspoon