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Friday, November 2, 2007

Thing 73: Creme

It's National Blog Posting Month -- NaBloPoMo!! Woo! And though I didn't know it until this morning, I haven't even blown it yet since I happened to post yesterday about the High Heel Races. The only terms of NaBloPoMo are that you post every day for the month of November...and that may be asking a lot. I may be setting myself up for a fall. But I have a little reserve of Things in my back pocket, and dammit, I'm going to go for it! Although at some point this month you may get something like "Thing 88: Take out the trash". But here goes...

The birthday recap continues...

On the actual night of my birthday, the Boyfriend and I headed out to U Street for a coolly romantic dinner at a table for two at Creme.

Creme has been on my list for a good while, and seemed the perfect choice since the nouveau-Southern-home cooking style meant there would be something there that the Boyfriend would surely enjoy (he gets a bit suspicious at things like tuna and almond nigiri or faux gras terrine).

We stepped into the hip space and were greeted warmly at the door and shown to our table. The place was full of a good cross section of the neighborhood. Gay men and black professionals and students in Halloween costumes and young women in work clothes all seemed to be enjoying drinks and handsome plates of food.

I am worried about how to describe the decor, because what I want to say is that it looks like it was furnished at Ikea, but that sounds more negative than I mean it to be. Ikea implies cheap and functional, which I don't want to imply. But take a look at their bar, and you will be reminded of an out-of-the-box Ikea entertainment center...but in a good way.

Even with its reminisces of Ikea, this is a cool and handsome restaurant. It's small, with a brief lounge and a narrow dining room. All the dining room's seating runs along one wall, coupled with a handful of seats at the bar and that's it. At the back of the room is a tiny kitchen, completely open to the restaurant, where the chef, his two cooks and a dishwasher are hard at work but clearly enjoying themselves. Large mirrors with antique-looking frames hang on the walls and modern light fixtures hang over the bar. The walls are painted in deep primary colors and the furnishings are all light wood. A martini glass filled with red liquid awaits you at the table -- not a complimentary cosmopolitan but the candle holder. A small tea light floats in the cocktail glass.

The food itself was good. I wasn't blown away, nor was I disappointed. I ordered the surf and turf -- crispy tempura'ed shrimp and a gorgeous pink flat iron steak, sliced and stacked on a bed of vegetables and topped with a salad. The meats were great, but the vegetables were boiled and uninspiring, and the salad was a bit confusing. The sweet and salty, Asian-inspired sauce was fine, but didn't leave me licking the plate (which, ahem, I have been known to threaten the Boyfriend with when we are out together).

Creme's surf and turf.  There's a lot going on on this plate.
The Boyfriend ordered more wisely -- shrimp and grits, for which Creme is widely praised. The waitress had warned him that the andouille sausage in the dish was spicy, and she was not kidding around. The sausage was smokey with a serious heat at the end in the back of the throat. Luckily, the grits helped to put out the fire, creamy and mild, as a nice complement.

The wild mushroom masterpiece.  YUM!Our starter was the real winner of the meal though; the "wild mushroom masterpiece" was just that. A deep bowl with simply sauteed local mushrooms -- a touch of truffle oil, and sprinkling of parsely and some finely shaved Manchego cheese melting over the top of it. The mushrooms tasted rich and meaty and were enhanced by the savoriness of the cheese. The Boyfriend and I split one, though in retrospect I should have been greedy and fended him off.

For dessert, we split the chocolate quad -- a chocolate spice cake, with whipped cream, chocolate mousse and chocolate covered strawberries. The cake was good, almost like a chocolatey Chocolate cake for the birthday girl!gingerbread, heavy on the spices. But again, not great. I've heard Creme does not have a pastry chef, and I believe it. Although I don't know where they'd put one in that tiny open kitchen!

So all in all, I enjoyed myself a lot. The food left us satisfied, the wait staff was friendly and attentive and the restaurant itself was cool and inviting. I do think it would be a better place to hang out and have a couple drinks then dinner, but I sure wouldn't say no to an invitation back there.