Cruising into Cafe Atlantico
On the same day that Miguelito and I had our lunch at Bryan Voltaggio's Volt, we met my cousins and brother for dinner at Jose Andres' Cafe Atlantico. In hindsight, it was a bit of an overload to pile two rich meals into one day. But with the nippy weather outside, there wasn't much we could do to entertain ourselves in Virginia but to make pilgrimages to see celebrity chefs. I wanted so badly to ascend the stairs from Atlantico's main dining room to eat at Minibar. Alas, I didn't make reservations in time to snare a spot at the six-seat shrine to molecular gastronomy.
Our party of five had fun on the festive main floor of the restaurant. The lime-colored menus inspired you to drink caipirinhas, margaritas and other brightly hued cocktails all night long.
Cafe Atlantico melded old and new Latin flavors. Guacamole was mashed tableside in a molcajete.
Perfect puffs of fried oysters were topped with uni.
A vocal advocate of the foie faction, I like my foie gras seared, pureed in a pasta sauce and packed into a terrine. I had never sipped it in liquid form. Then I ordered Cafe Atlantico's foie gras soup.
Dollops of cream leavened the rich, thick soup. There were slivers of mushrooms hidden at the bottom of the bowl. I felt as if my tongue was taking a late afternoon walk through the Black Forest, stopping occasionally to hear the cackle of ducks and geese floating through the crisp air from a nearby farm.
My main dish was sadly anticlimactic compared to the foie gras soup: seared scallops with roasted cauliflower and couscous.
Miguelito had a more exciting entree: pork chop with deconstructed feijao tropeiro. The divinely cooked pork chop was so tender and juicy. Feijao tropeiro is a rustic bean dish from Brazil. Instead of being dumped together into a bowl, the rice, black beans, manioc powder and orange slices were scattered across the big white plate. The only travesty was the foam that hid the beautiful slab of meat.