Thursday, March 7, 2013

C&O Restaurant

I am ashamed to say that, after 8+ years in Charlottesville, this was my first visit to the legendary C&O Restaurant.  Allie and I received a gift certificate to C&O, and because of that, finally made it out the restaurant!  We made a reservation at the last minute for a chilly Wednesday evening.  We were seated at a table on the main floor, just inside the entrance.  The room is very rustic, with original hardwood flooring and wall paneling.  There were several other tables seated in the small room, but it remained quiet and felt intimate nonetheless.  I will also mention that the service was outstanding throughout our meal.  (Side note: Please excuse my photography in this post - my camera flash decided not to work on this particular night.)

After spending some time with the wine list, we selected a bottle of Pinot Noir from one of our favorite Napa Valley wineries - Pine Ridge.  We then moved on to the dinner menus.  I must say that this was one of the few menus that I have seen off of which I would have ordered every single item!  Allie and I decided to order 2 appetizers and 2 entrees and share them all so we could try as many dishes as possible.  To start, Allie ordered the oyster stew and I selected the ricotta gnocchi.  The oyster stew was delicious - with a subtle smokey flavor imparted by the bacon and some of the biggest, most tender oysters I have had in Virginia!  We were also amazed by how well the oyster crackers in the stew held up - even by last few bites of the cup, the crackers still had a satisfying crunchy texture.  The ricotta gnocchi was equally as good.  The gnocchi themselves were delicate, pillow-like pouches of perfection.  The gnocchi were arranged carefully atop a bolognese-style sauce of local pork that was slightly sweet and salty making for a perfectly composed dish that I would have been happy to eat an entree-sized portion of! 

Oyster Stew

Ricotta Gnocchi

For dinner, both Allie and I selected steak options.  This, too, was a tough decision for both of us and had I not just ordered Rag Mountain Trout at another restaurant recently, I think I might have opted for that as well.  Anyhow, Allie ordered the Cuban ribeye steak and I ordered the Steak Chinoise.  The Cuban ribeye came cooked to a flawless medium.  The steak itself is modestly spicy - it is marinated in Tabasco and dijon mustard after all!  The spice is attenuated perfectly by the tangy buttermilk blue cheese and sweet red onion jam that top the steak.  If you like ribeye as much as I do, this dish is a must-try!  And if you don't think you like ribeye very much, just wait until you taste this one!  The Steak Chinoise was also delicious (though Allie and I both agreed that the Cuban ribeye was our favorite).  The flank steak was incredibly tender (which can be quite an accomplishment) and also cooked to a perfect medium.  The sauce is described as a "ginger, tamari, and scallion pan sauce" and had delicious umami qualities and invoked subtle flavors of peanut and soy. 

Cuban Ribeye Steak

Steak Chinoise

By the time we had finished devouring all that beef, we were both really too full for dessert.  But we looked at the menu anyway.  And then we ordered dessert anyway.  The warm cinnamon bun with homemade espresso chip ice cream was just irresistible.  And it did not disappoint!  The bun was gooey and delicious and the ice cream complemented it perfectly.

Warm Cinnamon Bun

Overall Impression:  This was the best meal Allie and I have had in Charlottesville in years!  Incredible food, great service, and a marvelous atmosphere!  Get yourself to C&O as soon as possible!

Food Rating:  

Contact Information:
          C&O Restaurant
          515 East Water Street, Charlottesville, VA 22902 (on the Downtown Mall)

C & O Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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