Monday, August 25, 2014

Osteria Langhe

It is a little sad when a neighborhood restaurant has to close.  Having said that, it wasn't a big surprise when Brand BBQ Market closed (for the second time).  They were a friendly restaurant with a wider than usual list of meats that they smoked well and they did a fantastic Burnt Ends Mac and Cheese.  I liked them even if I thought that they needed to work on their sauces a bit.  They closed the first time, to redo their dining room and to get a liquor license, but I am going to guess that they ran out of money and had to open earlier than they would have liked to, so they had no time to rebuild a regular clientele and again ran out of money because no one was coming.  I am going to guess that they had already sold the place when they closed because the turnaround was very quick, five weeks.  What opened it's place was Osteria Langhe, an Italian restaurant focusing on Piemontese cuisine.  I dined there recently to see what the space had now become.  The space itself hadn't changed a lot because it is a small, narrow space and I don't know that much could be done with it.  There is a small patio at the front of the restaurant for those that that would like to dine outdoors.  There was a mural of the Italian countryside on the wall opposite the bar at the front of the dining room.  The bar was in the same place at the front of the bar, but there was significantly more liquor including 10 Italian bitters.  This is where I sat.  Looking things over, there were many things of interest on the food menu so I made a quick decision for a drink and spent some more time with the food menu.  I started with an Amaro e Birra, which is exactly what it sounds like, an Amaro of the diner's choice, a beer of choice, and ice.  For my Amaro e Birra, I used a Menabrea Bionda, an Italian lager for my beer and a Cappelletti, a red amaro with medium bitterness.  The bartender said that I could drink them separately or together, so I did both.  The beer was light colored and had flavors of straw and lemongrass and the Cappelletti was very red and bittersweet with an herbal and cough medicine flavor, although not in a bad way.  Together, the beer cut the bitter of the amaro and the amaro added some sweetness to the beer and contributed to a nice head.
While I was still perusing the food menu, I was brought a can containing Black Olive Grissini or Breadsticks.  They were crunchy and bready with a light black olive flavor and they were very addictive.  While they were the bread course which will, in many places last the entire meal, I think mine were gone before my first course got to me and I wanted to be able to eat my meal, so I said no when asked if I wanted a refill.
For my antipasti, I went with Vitello Tonnato, a plate of Cold Sliced Veal (poached) that is served with a Tuna Citrus Caper Aioli, Frisee, and a Crispy Soft Boiled Egg.  I had had vitello tonnato before so I knew what I would be getting, but this was very good.  The veal was thinly sliced and very tender and the tuna flavor of the aioli, with the light texture of the veal gave the impression of eating tuna which was added to with the caper and citrus flavor also in the aioli.The egg was crispy on the outside with a liquid yolk and also went very well with the aioli.
 I was going to order a Primi (pasta) and a Secondi (meat), but I was then told about the Risotto which had everything that I wanted anyway, so that's what I went with.  It was the most expensive thing on the menu, but it was pretty big and had samples of a lot of different stuff including Duck, a Scallop, Blood Sausage, King Salmon, Red Peppers, and Sausage.  The rice was toothsome and very flavorful with a thick sauce.  The corn and red peppers was mixed in with the rice and sauce and felt like it was supposed to be there.  The meats were on top and were like "accessories" that all went well with the risotto.  The duck and scallop were my favorite accompaniments.  They were well prepared and seasoned and very flavorful.  The salmon was good and flaky, but I preferred the duck and the scallop.  The blood sausage, while it did have a good taste, was a little bit of a miss because it was a bit dry.  Despite that, the dish was good overall.
For my dessert, there were several things that were of interest, but I decided to go with the Limetta, the Lime Curd dessert that was sort of like a deconstructed Key Lime Pie.  In addition to the Lime Curd, it had Rum, Graham Cracker Shortbread, Raspberries, and Mint Meringue.  It all tasted good and went well together and I really liked the mint meringues, but the presentation was a little lacking.  This did not mean, of course, that I didn't eat it.  I ate it and enjoyed it like I did everything else.  The food was very good, the service was friendly, and the servers were knowledgeable about what they were serving.  I would be happy to return, which made me make sure to correct the tipping error that I had made after I discovered it well after I left.


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