While we are sad that the BCD parents have left our childhood home for greener (sandier?) pastures (ps. first meal in the new kitchen post coming soon!), we often criticize our hometown, Columbia, MD, as being a "culinary wasteland." One of the few exceptions to this rule is Victoria Gastro Pub, a relatively new restaurant with wonderful food and a wonderful vibe.
Xani and I both happened to be in Columbia last week running various errands independently, so we decided to meet up for dinner at Victoria. We wanted to sit at the bar since they have truffle parmesan popcorn and fried oysters on the bar menu, but it was full with some private event, so to the dining room we went. (We unfortunately found out that the bar menu is not served in the dining room - that's a tip for the future!)
This was the second time I had been to Victoria (the first time, Xani and I took Mom for Mother's Day lunch), and both times I've been, our waiter has been the same guy: my old friend Alex! I had heard that Alex was a waiter there, but it was by pure coincidence that the two times I went there, Alex was working, and we were seated in his section! Alex and I went to high school together (go Golden Bears!). You might remember us from such productions as 42nd Street and Fiddler on the Roof. Alex was the rabbi; I was Hodel. Anyway, we were very close in high school and it was great to see him and relive the good ol' days. (Note that Xani limited our reminiscing to about 5 minutes; I needed to focus on the menu!)
Anyway, onto the food! We each ordered a glass of Hoegaarden to start off the meal. Then, we ordered the soup of the day (that sounds good, I'll have that), which was a Vichyssoise, a classic French cold soup made with leeks, potatoes, and lots of cream. Mmm mmm good. The soup had a nice texture and good, delicate flavor.
For our next course, we had one of the house specialties: the duck fat fries, served with roasted garlic aioli and truffle sea salt. These were EXCELLENT! They were like boardwalk fries but classed WAY up. (We ordered these the first time we came too; the pictures turned out way better, so we used those.)
We also enjoyed the Prince Edward Island Mussels, made with Hoegaarden, garlic, cilantro, orange peel, and chile de arbol. These were also quite good and were served with several pieces of grilled, buttery bread for the irresistable dipping that goes along with eating mussels.
Mussels and delicious bread - what could be better?
The last thing we ordered was the Cuban Sandwich, which was made with pulled Duroc pork, mango mojo, blackforest ham, and gruyere on sourdough bread and served with yucca fries. It should be noted that this was not your traditional Cuban sandwich (it was not pressed flat and I did not detect any pickles or mustard), however, this was a really delicious sandwich. The salty meats played wonderfully off of the sweet mango, and the yucca fries were awesome! Some of the best yucca fries I've had in a long time. We were really full by the time we got to this sandwich, but I'd like to think that we were still able to appreciate its finer points.
It was a delicious meal at Victoria, and Alex did a wonderful job (he is quite the beer afficionado). Thanks, Alex, for a great time, and we'll be seeing you soon! Next time, however, I hope to sit in the bar so I can get my hands on some of that popcorn!
ps. We didn't have dessert this time, but we did the first time with BCD Mom, and they were beautiful AND delicious: