Thursday, September 03, 2009

Half-Priced Steak Night at the City Café

Ah, the City Café. Luckier than most Mount Vernon businesses in this recession, it seems to still be doing bang-up business. Like the posh Eden's Lounge across the street (I still need to stop in sometime soon), the City Café is not a victim of the crappier-by-the-week parking situation on Charles Street. You couldn't park anywhere last night on some of the most well-traveled blocks. That couldn't have helped the recently-shut-down Brass Elephant in this economy. In addition, the City Café has a constant supply of gay & lesbian clients streaming in to keep it open. That's what made me stream in last light to meet a friend for dinner. Scott and I caught up and after ordering some coffee and cappuccino, we found a table and sat down for dinner.

We started off with a few appetizers. The meat-lover's pizza could have easily been my entire dinner, but I had some help, and Scott took some of it home for later. It was pleasantly salty, though a little soft and goopy. The mix of cheeses, meat sauce and pancetta alone ensures that I will go back for it. The $7 price tag is the extra motivator. The edamame was alright, though it's not something I would normally order myself. I was eying the fried green tomatoes with crab, but I passed on them for another time. Whatever. What we ordered went well with my $6 Dogfish Head IPA, though for only a dollar more I could've gotten the blueberry lemonade cocktail.

For the entrée, I was going to order the obligatory burger. But it was half-priced New York strip night so I decided to go ahead and get that. To go along with that we ordered a helping of the lobster macaroni & cheese to share. There were good and not-so-good aspects to this part of the meal, though overall I'd say it was more good than not. The $15 steak, first of all, is not half priced. It's normally $23. No amount of fuzzy math is going to make 15 into half of 23.* That was the only really bad thing about the steak, which was nice and rare for me, very tender, and though a little chewy I still liked the slight crispiness of the fat on the side of the steak. I also liked that I could only finish half, and took the rest of it home with me. Scott suggested I could make that into a very nice sammich. Never heard of a strip steak sandwich. Pit beef maybe, but not a nice, thick strip steak. Oh well. Love ya, man, but I'll probably just eat it on the plate.

New York strip steak at 67% the price, with full-price lobster mac n' cheese

Those mashed potatoes were also wonderful, not quite buttery but they had a really good flavor that I can't quite place. I was less thrilled with the Italian green beans. I mean they were alright. They had a nice green bean flavor, and the tomatoes were really tangy, too. I guess the flavors just didn't mesh for me. At least the green beans were fresh. The part of the meal that was really lacking was the lobster mac n' cheese ($8). Though we liked the flavor, the texture was not very appetizing. A macaroni and cheese should be nice and creamy and thick, even a little crusty on top. This was basically a wet, slightly soupy mac n' cheese. It was like I was eating mac n' cheese-flavored macaroni salad with chunks of lobster in it. Oh, those chunks of lobster couldn't redeem it - in fact they didn't fit very well at all. Like the Italian green beans, the flavors just didn't mesh. I won't be ordering it again. Not one to waste food, I brought it home anyway. I can do something with it.

Thus ended a night of sometimes-choppy, mostly tasty food. If you head out to the City Café on a Tuesday or Wednesday night, my recommendation is to get the NY strip, but don't expect magic from those green beans. And forget the lobster mac altogether. Or if you're broke, that meat lovers' flatbread pizza will be more than enough to satisfy you.

* Don't believe me? My sister knows a guy who can get me some math manipulatives to show how impossible it is to divide 23 into two equal groups of 15. Always thinking like a teacher, recession be damned.

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