Friday, August 20, 2010

Review: Restaurant Week!!! Cafe Atlantico

Pork Cheeks with black beans, white rice, farofa, oranges
That little orange drop on the bottom left? The sauce of doom.

I'd never been to Cafe Atlantico before, and frankly I'd never heard of it either. Turns out it's an Latin-inspired fusion place led by Chef Katsuya Fukushima right in Chinatown. We sat outside and even had live music from an outdoor concert that was playing a block away. Thus far it has been the best place I've been to for Summer RW 2010. One restaurant remains in the running, and we'll see if it beats Cafe Atlantico out on Sunday.
Dominican Conch Fritters with jicama-avocado raviolis, passion-fruit oil

The Food
First Course: Dominican Conch Fritters with jicama-avocado raviolis, passion-fruit oil
I inhaled these buggers. They were large enough that I had to take two bites to eat one, but it was delicious. The avocado raviolis tasted a little like deconstructed guacamole (they were cold). I loved the idea and the execution was great. When you ate a bite of that together with a bite of the fritters it was delish. The inside of the fritters were unexpectedly slimy, which could totally throw someone me. Luckily I liked it, but the texture takes some getting used to. My one issue was that I couldn't taste the conch, just the fritter batter (which was like cornbread. No complaints on that).

Second Course: Pork Cheeks
These were delicious! The meat came apart nicely, like a well-cooked pot roast. The black beans they were served on top of were fantastic, but I got surprised by a taste of super-spicy sauce they had drizzled on the side. SUPER. SPICY. I nearly finished my whole glass of wine then and there, hah.

Third Course: Warm Chocolate Cake with lime ice cream and banana mousse
Cake was fine, mousse was banana-y (I hate bananas) and the lime ice cream was awesome and creamy. I have to say though, what's with every restaurant serving options of either a thick chocolate cake/tart or mango ice cream? It's overdone and boring.

“Beetsteak” Tomato Salad with seasonal beets, yogurt, fresh herbs, sherry vinaigrette

My friends' dishes
“Beetsteak” Tomato Salad with seasonal beets, yogurt, fresh herbs, sherry vinaigrette
 Nothing unexpected. The dressing was a little salty, but in a good way.

Salmon with peaches, lime, passion fruit, chicken jus
Nothing interesting. I have to say, salmon is probably the worst investment you can make at a restaurant. Unless you can't take a slab of salmon and fried it in a pan, or are health-conscious and there are no other options on the menu, it's not worth the purchase. It always tastes exactly the same and you could easily make the exact same quality fish at home.

Flat Iron Steak with summer corn, peach
Delicious, and it came with the absolutely most delicioso mashed potatoes.

Flat Iron Steak with summer corn, peach
The Service
Our Server checked in often, water was always refilled quickly, and management came by to to talk to every table. Excellent.

The food was all fantastic. I tried the conch fritters and the pork cheeks to try something new and unusual, and I was disappointed that the flavors weren't new or unusual. The conch may have been but I couldn't taste it. Regardless, it was still completely worth going and a place I highly recommend anytime of year.

Warm Chocolate Cake
Venezuelan chocolate flan, banana mousse
lime ice cream

Rating: 9/10
It lost a point because they served a totally unique protein (conch) and then covered up all the flavor and texture by coating it in batter and deep frying it. I could have eaten fried cornbread and it probably would have tasted the same. But like I said before, I highly recommend this over any other restaurant I've been to this week.

Cafe Atlantico
405 8th Street NW
Washington DC 20004
(202) 393-0812

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