Wednesday night Mrs S and I went out to dinner with some very good friends of ours, and when we think special I aways think Cafe Maude. Actually, this was the same couple we’d been to Cafe Maude with a few months ago, so it wasn’t hard to convince everyone to make a repeat visit. This time however I wanted to take a crack at their Prix Fixe menu. They do a Prix Fixe Monday through Thursday nights. Tuesdays and Wednesdays it’s $20.00 for a three course meal plus a glass of wine or beer. Sunday and Wednesday it’s $30. Being cheap I suggested the Wednesday night deal.
Cafe Maude is essentially a neighborhood restaurant, the bill themselves as a local hang out and the atmosphere there really reinforces this idea of local and friendly. Probably the reason I keep going back. Not that I live in the neighborhood, but a man can wish…
Wednesday’s menu was a mixed green salad, a very interesting chicken confit with bacon bits, brussels sprouts, lima beans, and sun dried tomatoes and covered in garlic butter. Dessert was a fresh backed chocolate cookie with a salty carmel ice cream.
Our friend, the male half of the couple and I rode the bus from downtown to the restaurant, a remarkably easy ride which required no transfers and dropped us off two blocks away. Access to the bus is a major plus in my book, keeps me from driving anywhere.
On arrival, and we beat the wives there by about 20 minutes we started things off with a Bookers bourbon and bowl of one of my favorite dishes at Cafe Maude- the mussels. I’ve waxed on about their mussels before, the toast, butter, garlic.. mouth watering.
I was a little disappointed with the selection in the whiskey/bourbon department, and our server wasn’t well versed in whiskey. I was looking for the Basil Hayden she had mentioned only to learn they were out, or didn’t carry it.. still Bookers is excellent. Vanilla overtones, but with a high 120 proof that requires small sips.
Oh well, I had a nice conversation with her about whiskey and bourbon and I think I was able to pass along some good knowledge.
Now ordering straight bourbon at Maude is kinda stupid, they make some really cool and unusual libations and Mrs S helped herself to a fancy margarita that had some bitters in it. She referred to it as a “winter margarita” due its not quite so sweet thing going on.. It was good but not my fav. I’ll stick to the whiskey.
The salad was simple and delicious. I enjoyed the dressing, lot of vinegar. Good stuff.
Now the chicken dish.. that was pretty complex.
First of all let me go on record as say that up until that night I’d never meet a lima bean that I liked, nor that I would eat on purpose. In my experience lima beans are nasty soft green things that truly make me gag. Add in brussels sprouts and you’d see me eating something that would make my mother fall over dead. All stuff I’ve been known to hate. (Hmmm maybe I’ll more of that stuff it helps.. never mind)
These weren’t canned lima beans however, these were reconstituted, they started dry and were soaked overnight in water and an onion. So texture and favorwise, they were quite different from what I’ve had before. The flavor was very very mild, more like a pasta than a bean. The texture was firm with a satisfying al dente like quality.. Bottom line, I ate more lima beans in one night than the previous 17,741 nights prior, and that’s combined. And.. I didn’t bitch once about it. I’m such a big boy now, is that something. Mrs S, growing up, was allowed one “hate” food that when served, she was allowed to pass on. Hers.. you guessed it, lima beans. She liked this presentation as well. On the other hand, she has since replaced limas with brussels sprouts since I’ve never even considered cooking with lima beans but I do enjoy roasted sprouts.
In this dish however the sprouts were leaved and mixed in the compote with the tomatoes and butter, so she didn’t notice. I don’t think she noticed.
I have to say something about the chicken, which was a quarter leg and thigh, broiled I think. It was the deliciously moist on the inside and delightfully crispy on the outside. Crispy enough that it held it’s own against the compote. I thought it was one of the better chicken dishes I’ve ever eaten. Very homey and comfort food like, and the same time using ingredients that I wouldn’t, nor would most home cooks consider. A+
Dessert.. I typically get the cookies and milk at Cafe Maude for dessert.. and it’s too much. One too many delicious rich fresh baked cookies. This was one cookie and a taste of ice cream. Very nice but I somehow got the scoop that missed the carmel vein. I know this because I ate Mrs S’s when she got up to use the can, and hers was better. One suggestion that she had for the Prix Fixe menu.. she’s not a dessert person, nor was one of the other folks we were with. She’d like to suggest a choice of small appetizer or taste from one of Maudes Small Plates as an option for the dessert free folks.
How’bout it guys?
To add to the evening, live music. I didn’t realize they were going to have a band when we made the rezzies, it was a dub band of all things playing in the back ground. Three 20 something white kids doing their best Lee “scratch” Perry meets Sly and Robbie. They were good and added to the evenings enjoyment.
So.. all in all fantastic evening at Cafe Maude. However we weren’t paying close enough attention to the budget and the Prix Fixe with the mussels and four cocktails got us north of $140 for the four of us. Should have been closer to $100 if we’d been a bit more careful.. but no regrets the food was great and the atmosphere welcoming and friendly. That makes 4 consecutive outstanding visits in a row… a tribute to a well run restaurant if you ask me.
This old and in the way fat guy says thumbs UP~
5411 Penn Ave S