Date: September 22, 2007
Times Visited: Countless
I had butterflies in my stomach before the final Red & Black Vegan Family Style Dinner Benefit last Saturday night. While I was stoked for the food, even not knowing the menu for the first time, I was also in despair to lose my favorite neighborhood café. Yes, the café is planning to reopen by either renting or purchasing a new space, but it will, selfishly, no longer be across the street from my apartment. Once the meal began, the mood for the evening was set – although there were less attendees than the previous affairs, the crowd was enamored with the café, past, present and future.
The dinner was once again crafted by local chef Aaron Adams and he did not disappoint. From the well dressed roasted beet salad, to the knock your socks off Autumn Mushroom Lasagna, to the juicy, steal-another-bite garlicky braised beet greens and purple kale. I never knew kale stems could be moist, and that I’d like it. And then dessert, oh my, but I’ll get to that.
Up first was the hearty bean soup. I was getting over a cold myself, and was glad to have this in front of me. The soup was flavored with tomatoes and onions, and the flavor was very well balanced. I noticed nearly every bowl at my table was completely finished. The salad included the sweet, roasted beets that my beet loving dining companion couldn’t resist absolutely raving about (who knew there was so much to be said about beets?) spinach, cherry tomatoes and enoki mushrooms. Though another diner speared his enokis with a fork and practically threw them onto mine, fearing fungal attack, they seemed to go over pretty well.
The lasagna arrived next, and even as an Italian vegan with high standards, this did not dissapoint. The lasagna was well layered, chock full of mushrooms, flavorful sauce and amazingly creamy tofu ricotta that I could have eaten a bowl of. The mushrooms, which featured chanterelles, blue chanterelles, matsutakes, trumpette royale, porcini, abalone, lobster and maitake mushrooms, were overall an great addition and were impressive in both title and multitude. But truthfully, I felt they were somewhat undercooked and I didn’t eat a couple large ones from my plate. My heart went out to any mushroom haters in the room, but that’s besides the point. Although the lasagna would have sufficed as the sole part of any main course, somewhat out of place cumin roasted cauliflower and the aforementioned delicious greens were also served. It was like a debate with my fork and mouth, what to take? I sampled a piece of the warm, well cooked cauliflower and had a few bites of the greens, and remained focus on the lasagna.
Completing the meal was a beautiful pear crisp. It was by far the loveliest, tastiest dinner, eaten there, or anywhere. It was very warm and sweet i7n a pear- peak-of-the-season way. The fruit itself was cut into candy-like cubes with a well spiced topping. I was too full to finish my plate, but I assure you I wanted to. The crisp was so lovely, I found myself buying a bag of red pears a few days later.
See you soon Red & Black Café, we’ll be waiting.
Rating: 4.75 out of 5
Address: Currently Closed