After a somewhat grueling week for both Gretchen and me, we decided we needed some time off from our busy schedules. Gretchen suggested lunch, so yesterday I made a 1pm rsvp at A.O.C. thru Open Table. We had tried going there once before a couple of months ago, but it didn’t work out for whatever reason, but today, we got there maybe a couple minutes late. It wasn’t busy, though, and we were able to get a table outside.
Let me tell you… this place is beautiful!… inside and out. It’s an old Spanish style restaurant that looks like it used to be someone’s home way back when. The outside is covered with ivy as is the enclosed patio area which has a retractable cloth roof. Today it was closed, unfortunately, considering it was such a beautiful day. The outside also has a wood burning fireplace which wasn’t lit, though the fireplace inside was. We were seated on cushioned iron patio chairs under a tree near a flowing fountain, and then quickly greeted by our server, Nathan, who was smiley and charming. He said he’d been working there for only six weeks, but you’d never know it. He was very knowledgeable and told us that A.O.C. stood for the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (controlled designation of origin) which is the French certification that controls the standards for wine, cheese, etc produced in France. It’s the same body that mandates that for a sparkling wine to be called Champagne, it must come from Champagne, France. Pretty Fab.
Anyway, for drinks Nathan generously offered to let me try three different reds, instead of my usual two, and I settled on the Rasteau which I believe is a Syrah, Grenache blend. Gretchen tried a couple whites and opted for the J. Mourat Sacre Blanc Chenin. For lunch, I was really hungry as I hadn’t eaten yet, so, while I wanted everything, I decided to be good and settled on a salad as did Gretchen. The devil in me ordered a B52 Coffee since I hadn’t had my morning cup of Joe. Alright, alright, I gave up coffee a few months ago to hopefully help me sleep, but that’s beside the point. We also ordered the Bacon Wrapped Dates which is one of the best things in life. Btw, the B52 Coffee was Super Fab! and totally hit the spot… all of them.
We didn’t have to wait long for our food to arrive. The Bacon Wrapped Dates came out first; it was basically six small dates stuffed with parmesan, then wrapped in thin cut bacon. They were good (it’s hard to mess them up), but I have to admit, I like mine better. I use larger Medjool whole dates and thick cut bacon, then drizzle honey over them. So good! Recipe to follow.
Then came our salads. Mine, the Market Lettuce Salad with Chicken, was nicely dressed, but I was hoping for bigger chunks of beets. Gretchen ordered the Young Spinach & Mustard Grilled Chicken Salad which she thought was a bit over dressed. Nathan had them add more spinach and re-toss it which helped. What was nice is that it had big chunks of bacon in it. I actually wouldn’t even call it bacon because the chunks were so thick, it was more like pork belly and it was Fab for sure.
As we ate, we soaked in the atmosphere of the place. Gretchen loved the soft lighting in the main dining room and said it was like an “assignation station.” I fell in love with the shallow balconies above the patio on the second floor that held foliage in clay pots, but quite frankly, the whole place was just perfect. I could sit there all day. Actually, it they let me live there, I would.
We didn’t finish our salads so we could save room, and a few calories, for dessert. Gretchen was itching for the Bittersweet Chocolate Torte, so I acquiesced. It was rich, smooth and delicious, and when complimented with a generous shot of Grand Marnier, it was heaven.
All said, it was a Fab afternoon, and I’ll send in my rental application asap.
A.O.C. Certification Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appellation_d%27origine_contr%C3%B4l%C3%A9e