‘Tis the Season for Going Places

Since 2004 we have yet to celebrate Christmas in our own home. We also don’t go ‘home’ for the holidays because neither set of our parents live in the state we’re from anymore. And let’s not even talk about the random scattering of extended family throughout the continental United States. So for us, Christmas is about packing, new playlists on our iPods, and putting miles on our vehicle. Fa-la-la-la, la-la-la-la.

Right now, we’re in Wilmington, NC and we took Clay’s parents up on their offer to watch Weston this evening while we enjoyed a nice meal downtown. We decided to try Caffe Phoenix after reading a review in the paper. Who needs the Internet and Yelp when the Star News delivers right to the door?

Isn’t the outside charming? The inside is just as nice and the menu emphasizes healthy options and local ingredients. Furthermore, the walls act as a commission-free art gallery. This piece was right above our table…

Gorgeous, right?

Just as we were sitting down, Christmas carolers entered the restaurant and serenaded the patrons with Jingle Bells and We Wish You a Merry Christmas.

Clay opted for the house red and I went for the Riesling. Apparently Thursday is half-price wine night so we couldn’t pass up the good deal. Sorry beer, you weren’t missed. This time.

We started with the bruschetta caprese. The marinated fresh mozzarella, grape tomatores, and fresh basil were all pleasing but I would have loved more balsamic gastrique drizzle. Then again, I can’t get enough of balsamic vinegar. Anyone else with me?

Our meals came with the option of a house salad or soup. Because the air was chilly (30′s) outside, we chose the sweet potato bisque. How was it, you ask? Oh my goodness, this soup was divine. It was my first time with sweet potato in bisque form and it didn’t hurt one bit. In fact, by the end, I was begging for more.

For my main dish, I had the Frenched Chicken Breast, which was stuffed with goat cheese over fingerling potatoes tossed with roasted brussels sprouts, garlic shallots, and sun-dried tomatoes drizzled with brown butter and balsamic gastrique. See, I told you I love balsamic! Again, the dish was great (especially the brussels sprouts and sun-dried tomatoes) but more balsamic would have been much appreciated.

Clay had the Filet Mignon, which was served over a mushroom risotto cake, wilted spinach, roasted garlic bulb, and drizzled with a caramelized shallot demi-glace. I am not a huge fan of mushrooms (i.e. I despise them) so I chose not to sample his dish. But Clay reports that it was absolutely delicious.

The only disappointment of the night was the Tiramisu. I understand that we may have steep expectations when it comes to our favorite desert but this was dry and filled with muted flavor. Very sad. On a better note, the coffee and accompanying raisin and coconut biscotti were really good and almost made up for the tiramisu.

So our first date night upon Clay’s return was a success and a wonderful way to kick-off Christmas. Downtown Wilmington was cold, charmingly beautiful, and the lights shined bright. Tomorrow? Cookie-makin’ time!

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