Friday, February 11, 2011
Rating: 3 stars
The choice for the month of February was Mezzanine in Carytown. This was actually our very first restaurant that we wanted to go to when we first started our Restaurant Club last year, but because they are closed on Mondays, and that tended to be the main day of the week that we could all get together, we had not yet been able to make it there. Unfortunately only four of our normal six were able to make it this month.
The location is good and having a free parking deck right across the street was very helpful, especially since it was freezing outside! Much easier than trying to park for some of the Fan or Shockoe Slip/Bottom restaurants. We had made reservations but for a Wednesday night it definitely wasn't necessary, even though the restaurant is rather small.
We walked in to find a space heater warming the bottom level of the restaurant and I must admit when away from it I got rather chilly, even though it was a small area. There was also a heater in the bathroom. I am not sure if they were having issues with the central heat or what. But the place has a very nice decor and atmosphere, dark wooden tables, small candles on each one, an upstairs area (that I did not venture up to check out, though I wanted to), and a small bar on the bottom floor with a few tables near it.
I was excited at first to see a sign for happy hour specials until 7, but then was disappointed to find that that was only for the bar. Considering the place was rather empty it might be a good idea to extend that to everyone, at least during the week. Needless to say this prevented me from ordering a glass of wine because none of the reds were less than $8 a glass, and I already knew dinner was going to be pricey.
Next came the actual food ordering, which is made rather difficult by the menu only being available on a large chalkboard hanging on the wall. I understand that they change the menu rather often which is fine, but it would be nice to have a printed menu so you do not have to lean over your friends and ask them what certain things say. I assume they have another chalkboard upstairs since I never saw anyone hanging over the staircase to check out the main board.
Katie was gracious enough to order an appetizer for everyone to share, which was very good, though I assumed the word "skewers" would mean something along the lines of a shish kabob, but apparently not, as we just got four small meatballs of pork and a little shrimp, though the dipping sauce was delicious. But for $12, I believe it was, I thought we might get a little more.
Katie tried a salad with duck confit and M got some curry soup, neither of which I was very impressed with after having a taste. And the meal also came with some interesting crackers as bread. A little too salty for me but I ate two of them in anticipation of not getting alot of food for dinner.
I had ordered the braised beef spareribs, which after seeing the previous portions I had expected to be small, and also because it was under the "small plate" section of the menu, which the waitress had said was a little smaller than a typical dinner so we might want to get a salad or appetizer if we were getting one. Wrong! There were five large chunks of beef on my plate, layered on top of grits. Sadly I am not the biggest grit fan. If it had been potatoes I would have been in heaven!
The meat was amazing, a wonderful sweet flavor all the way through, and incredibly tender. I do wish, besides having mashed potatoes, was that there had been something on the side to change the taste up a little. I don't know about you but I get tired of the same flavor bite after bite. But all in all a very good dish. And I was only able to put away half of it.
The other dishes were good as well, the chicken was very flavorful and tender, the shrimp and grits was fine but it had a taste of curry which is not my favorite, and M's jumbo scallops were delicious, probably the best I have ever had. But she only got three of them for $18 and nothing else, and that is just ridiculous.
At the end of the meal Andrea and Katie split a piece of chocolate pecan pie, which they luckily let me have a bite of, and it was wonderful, very very yummy if you like pecan pie (which I do!) The other desserts sounded very tasty as well, but I was trying to be good.
The waitress had told us at the beginning that she could not split up checks but could take separate payments, so we all wrote our names beside our orders and everything worked out well. The wait staff was very pleasant and I never wanted for more water or attention.
Overall the restaurant is nice, with a warm atmosphere (despite the heaters), but for what we got for the money I would not be asking to go back there. Perhaps if I was being taken on a date and someone else was paying, but not on my own or with friends. So decent job Mezzanine, but add some side dishes and print some menus!