Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Muffaletta




I did it! I did it! I successfully parked close enough to Muffaletta without blowing a gasket and we ate there!
Saturday afternoon was one of those blessedly beautious early fall days. The sun was shining, the air was just a little bit crispy and I was ravenously hungry in the middle of the day. Matt's taking classes at the U St. Paul campus, so we were over there picking up some books for him. An aside? That campus is gorgeous! Seriously. Those FFA kids know how to pick a campus!
I decided that we should take one more pass by Muffaletta. This usually ends with me swearing about how does anybody ever get in there? There's no parking! AURG! And then I keep driving straight into a warehouse type area that looks like it'd be a good place to dump a body. I don't usually stop whining about it until we're damn near the Quarry.
But this Saturday was different! I turned! Yes, if you take a right accross the street from the restaurant, there's all kinds of parking on the street! And it's not even a left turn! It's a RIGHT. Who's afraid of a right turn? So, we parked and crossed the street. I've been wanted to get to Muffaletta for quite some time now. For one thing, it's the only restaurant owned by the Parasole group that I haven't been to and also, their patio looks just lovely.
We were able to get a sunny little spot outside. The woman at a table one over from us was sipping a glass of wine. That sounded just perfect to me! I ordered the reisling while we purused the menu. The bread basket was just like Figilio's, good bread, crackers and a roasted garlic puree served in a moat of olive oil.
It was really difficult to even decide on an entree, but I eventually picked the balsamic marinated chicken sandwich served with avocado, swiss cheese and balsamic red onion on toasted caraway rye. Matt ordered the Mac and Cheese.
I don't think we even really talked much while we waited for the food. The patio at Muffaletta is like a comfortable silence with the one you love. Safe, warm, beautiful.
I sipped my wine slowly as we waited and Matt enjoyed some light people watching, while I was spying on the jolly folks inside the restaurant.
"So, how was your night?" I asked. He'd been working 3 days straight and I hadn't seen him. The night previous he'd worked a private party attended by councilman Pat Harris to raise money for Cystic Fibrosis. (A good family friend's daughter struggles with this disease.)
"Good, good. Everybody was there... Joe Bob and Harry started telling jokes and Dave Kelly told one that was so - " He broke off chuckling "It was SO bad that we had to stop." He laughed some more and shuddered.
"Like no one could top it?"
"Like no one would WANT to top it."
"Like worse than the Aristocrats?:
"It was really, really bad." He did the laugh/shudder thing no more and I understood why he didn't get home until four in the morning.
Our food arrived and everything looked amazing. The avocado was a little thickly cut, so it was hard to eat, but the flavor was amazing! I loved the little anis flavor of the caraway seeds, but Matt didn't care for them. My sandwich also came with some really good fries - well, not that the fries were outstanding, but the chipotle aioli served with them really set it off. I loved my sandwich. The charred chicken, sweet red onions, creamy avocado all blended into this gorgeous flavor like sitting on a back patio drinking fine wines with your best friends. Like what I imagine those parties captured by Gourmet must be like.
Matt's Mac and Cheese was not at all hard up for cheese. It was just swimming in it. The lardons had given all of their bacony flavor to the cheese and shells. My only complaint is that the shells were so big and a little over done that they were really difficult to eat. But, the flavor was intense, homey and effortlessly comforting.
Also, our service was flawless. Our waitress, Dana, was adorable and perfectly attentive. I was looking around and said, "You know, maybe we want to move over here..." I didn't hear any objections.

2 Comments:

At 3:14 PM , Anonymous Andy said...

Nice jab at us folks scared of making left turns.

 
At 10:25 AM , Anonymous j.lo said...

Mmmmm, Muffaletta. I had the lunchbox special last time I was there and it came in a totally cool, retro 80s lunchbox like I had when I was a kid (Strawberry Shortcake, naturally). The food is so fresh it feels healthy yet so delicious it feels naughty. The perfect combo!

 

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