Tuesday, June 9, 2011
When it is raining out we usually opt for delivery. When it is a torrential downpour mixed with fork lightning (as it is this evening) we definitely opt for delivery. But that simply will not do tonight, because it is the ninth of the month. Per a friend’s recommendation, and to be polite to our wallets, we opt for a little out of the way spot on the Upper West Side called “A” Café. Carrying an umbrella big enough for two we jump on the “A” Train heading Uptown towards Columbia University. This is the first ninth that we’ve taken the train and it feels good to be checking out an unfamiliar neighborhood.
A Café is an Organic French Caribbean restaurant and with its B.Y.O. policy, it is a great way to enjoy a great bottle of red wine with dinner without breaking the bank. Visiting the nearest wine shop, we pick out a Jordan Cabernet from behind a sheet of bullet-proof glass. Not the most elegant wine shop but no matter. We are just happy to have wine in hand and dinner waiting.
With only one other table full in the small but long railroad-car sized dining room, we take the table up front. The exposed brick is a nice accent to the small candles that adorn each table. An odd mix of easy listening music fills the space. Our server, who also happens to be the owner, greets us with a gracious smile. He easily explains the concise menu and we agree with each of his recommendations: escargots in a cilantro-chili butter, mousse truffle, jerk-spiced roast duck and rabbit sausage over a ginger, carrot and cashew purée.
The escargot is the clear winner among our starters, while both the duck and sausage delight as mains. The food is not overworked, but still complex enough to make each bite interesting. We would not mind for the easy-listening music to be traded in for some world music to accompany the French-Caribbean theme, but we are grateful for any music at all.
Overall, the meal is enjoyable; the service is friendly; and the ambience works. A Café is one of those nice places to have in the neighborhood and with their daily 6:00 – 8:00 pm $25 Prix Fixe menu, we are sure the locals agree. BYO or not, this is a steal.
Experience = 4.5/9