Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Cafe Nora

FLO was in the mood for something classy. Well, ok, Libby and Fred were. So we packed up the boy and headed off to Nora. Cafe Nora that is. Upon arriving, we were immediately seated in one of the 4 small, separate dining areas. Fred was immediately taken by the freshness of design, for such an established restaurant. They were able to accomplish old-world touch by mixing tile, brick, stone and stucco. Being that the seating areas surrounded the open kitchen, it felt open and cozy at the same time.

While perusing the menu, we noticed that this was too classy a joint to have the children's entrees in print. But our waitress immediately let us know that Ozzy was welcome and that he had a variety of off-the-menu choices. FLO felt the pasta with red sauce was the safest. Although by this point he had eaten so much of the incredible bread with olive oil dipping sauce that he kept proclaiming "I'm not hungry".

Fred couldn't quiet the thirst for that demon alcohol, so he ordered a glass of the house cabernet. After finding it quite possibly the best he's ever had (what can we say, we like cheap wine!), we found that it was Douglas Hill Cabernet.

After such a delightful red, a dark or red meat was begging to be paired. Libby opted for one of the specials, the French onion soup followed by grain-fed beef tenderloin (medium-rare) and an undecided dessert. Simply the best French onion soup evar! Super-cheesey, perfect broth and more of that wonderful bread. A couple nearby started to stare. The beef tenderloin, so tender a regular table knife was sufficient. And it barely needed to be chewed. Unfortunately, the accompanying onion topping, couscous side and green beans shouldn't have left the kitchen. FLO make better sides at home. The couscous seemed to have zero seasoning. No salt. No additional flavor whatsoever. The green beans were still too bland, even with what seemed to be diced garlic.

Fred decided on the duck breast, sauteed with portobella mushrooms and a caramelized balsamic sauce. YUM. Again, the chef hit the protein out of the park. The duck was perfectly cooked. Crisped fat, tender meat and an insane sauce that made Fred wish he were in a less posh restaurant. The plate would have been licked. His dish too, was served with the awful couscous and green beans. It would seem that as good as the head chef may be, the line was failing on the sides. Chef Ramsey would be livid.

Ozzy was true to his word and didn't touch his main dish. Funny how tummy space was found when the desserts arrived. For Libby, a very rich chocolate mousse. For Fred/Ozzy the tiramisu. Strangely the tiramisu was lighter in texture and feel than the mousse. Both were equally satisfying if perhaps uninspired.

Wrap Up
Price-$$$$, While there are more expensive places in town, Cafe Nora still packs a punch.
Atmosphere-****, Warm, unimposing old-world charm.
Service-***, Accommodating and really seemed to enjoy the Oz.
Fred - B, Why did those sides leave the kitchen? I guess it allowed room for dessert, though!
Libby - B-, Although I enjoyed the experience there, when I arrived home, my G.I. system disagreed wholeheartedly.
Ozzy -B, The bread appetizer and desserts were both out of the park.

Cafe Nora on Urbanspoon

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