Monday, August 16, 2010 at 08:30AM
*Post by Angela.
Given that eating and reading are two of my addictions, I'm sort of surprised I haven't written about Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe in Dupont sooner. The bookstore/cafe is a long-time staple of my neighborhood (it's been around longer than Star Wars, having opened in 1976!), so much so that it's been lauded by the New York Times as "a cultural landmark of sorts." Having lived in the area for over four years, I've eaten brunch there on countless occasions, and the other day, Mark and I decided to give lunch a go.
There is typically a 10-20 minute wait for a table on the weekends, which isn't as irritating as such a wait would be at other eateries, since here, you can browse the bookstore's shelves as you wait. On this particular visit, however, we were seated almost immediately in the cafe's bright dining area. While the service here can be...leisurely at times, the friendliness of our server made up for any lag times.
We decided to split an order of the roasted butternut squash (below) and goat cheese ravioli, with browned butter, basil, sundried tomatoes, lemon, and toasted pumpkin seeds (below) as an appetizer. The colorful dish was very tasty (I wonder if the ravioli were made in house?), and all the flavors worked together really well.
Mark ordered one of the weekly specials, mahi mahi (below) crusted with coconut bread crumbs, pan-fried and drizzled with mango-coconut cream, coconut rice with diced red peppers and scallions, and grilled watermelon, mango, pineapple and banana. While I stayed away for multiple allergy reasons, Mark thought the tropical excursion was worth the trip.
I ordered the sushi tuna and avocado salad. The tuna was marinated in a wasabi-honey vinaigrette (a wasabi-honey dipping sauce also came with the dish), pan-seared and served rare (below). The accompanying salad included micro-greens, tomatoes, cucumber, as well as a seaweed salad and marinated red onions. While each individual component was okay - the wasabi-honey marinade and dipping sauce was particularly good, tangy and sweet with the tiniest bit of heat - I thought the plating was odd - not very salad-like. I would have preferred all the ingredients to be tossed together in a more traditional salad presentation. It definitely would have helped with the underseasoning of the tuna.
Overall, the meal was nice, but a little pricey. That being said, we love the atmosphere and options - this is a great place for any number of occasions: late night drinks, coffee with friends, a lazy weekend brunch (the omelets are excellent!), a first date, etc. And nothing beats the feeling of walking out with a full stomach and a bag of new books!