Thursday, March 25, 2010 at 03:24PM
*Post by Angela.
We were on our way to a concert at the 9:30 Club the other night, and decided to stop by Creme Cafe and Lounge on U Street. I'd heard a couple of good things about Creme's brunch, but not much else. And even though it played a part in our decision to walk in, it made me a little nervous that Creme had a lot of empty tables when every other restaurant on the strip that we had passed was packed. Nevertheless, otherwise paralyzed by the number of U Street options, we decided to give it a shot - and were pleasantly surprised.
I really like the space at Creme - the minimalist decor and exposed ceilings are appropriately chic for the restaurant's U Street location. Our server for the night was really warm and friendly, which more than made up for the occasional lag times during dinner.
The meal began with a really nice touch, a white bean spread with the complimentary bread. I've said this before, but I love it when a restaurant gives me something different from the typical bread and butter combo. And my love for white bean spread has already been documented on this blog. Creme's version, while not quite as good as my version (of course), was very good, nicely salty and creamy.
Complimentary bread with white bean spread
For our starter, we went light, sharing the Bibb salad with toasted walnuts, buttermilk blue cheese and walnut vinaigrette. The salad was fine, nothing special, although I liked the very pungent and creamy blue cheese a lot. The walnut vinaigrette, though, barely registered against the strong flavor of the Bibb lettuce.
Bibb salad with toasted walnuts, buttermilk blue cheese and walnut vinaigrette
For my entree, I went with the diver scallops with shaved buttered Brussels sprouts, tomato compote and citrus reduction. Both Mark and I thought the scallops were perfectly cooked, buttery with just the slightest firmness. They were a tiny bit too salty for my liking, but the imperfect seasoning of the scallop was balanced out when taken in a bite with the tender shaved Brussels sprouts and tangy tomato compote. And the citrus sauce brightened the whole dish.
Diver scallops with shaved buttered Brussels sprouts, tomato compote and citrus reduction
Mark went with the vegetarian option on the menu, a roasted garlic and tomato ravioli with wilted greens and lemon butter. Both of us thought the ravioli wrapper was a little too thick, but Mark noted that if anything could balance that out, it was the zesty lemon butter sauce. He was surprised at how well the dish worked, despite its simplicity.
Roasted garlic and tomato ravioli with wilted greens and lemon butter
I wasn't at the table when Mark ordered dessert, but he got some sort of chocolate torte. The torte had layers of different kinds of chocolate (with panels of white chocolate surrounding it), and had a cookie-type crust on the bottom. I had a bite, and it was a little too rich for me, but Mark really enjoyed it.
Some sort of chocolate torte
Neither of us had any expectations for Creme, and maybe because of that, we walked away pretty satisfied. While there wasn't anything particularly exciting about anything we ate, and each dish had its flaws, everything was solid, and our server was a sweetheart. There are other restaurants on the U Street strip that I prefer (Tabaq and Marvin spring to mind), but Creme Cafe is a pretty good option if those other places are packed.