Saturday, March 19, 2011

Cafe Renaissance Surprise

Warning: This is an epically long blog with lots of super yummy food!

Superking works for a small computer company. When I say small, I mean he's like one of 4 people that make up the company.  This month marks the 6th year anniversary of him being there.  It just so happens that his boss and her husband, er, I mean his boss and his wife (love ya Tony and Lisa!), who are also very close friends of ours, decided they wanted to take us out to a nice restaurant to celebrate this anniversary. Knowing what foodies we are, they wanted to take us somewhere unique and they wanted it to be a surprise. "Be at our house at 6pm Friday and dress nice!" were our only instructions.
See that table in the middle corner? That was ours!

The four of us hopped in their car and down the road we went. We arrived in Vienna, VA and pulled into the parking lot of a little strip mall. Where are we going? After driving in a couple circles around the building, we find a parking space and get out. Right in front of us was a tiny little place called Cafe Renaissance.
There's Tony and Superking waiting for me to take my picture

Superking and I had never heard of it before but apparently it has quite a list of restaurant accolades...Most Romantic Dinner in Fairfax, 2010 Annual Winners for Best Service in the Nation, Top 50 Restaurant List in the US, and many highly rated reviews on Open Table and Trip Advisor. The menu consists of a combination of French, Italian/Mediterranean offerings and the atmosphere has a cozy European feel with classic art on the walls and classical music playing in the background.
lovely art

huge wine bottles above Lisa's head

a view of the dining room

Thankfully our friends are always willing to share their food with us and help me take some lovely pictures of their dishes for my food blog. Again, not the greatest photos taken on my cell phone in a dimly lit dining room but hopefully you'll get the idea of how wonderful this little restaurant is.
our beautiful candlelit table with fresh flowers

Here's the rundown of the items we ordered...For appetizers, Tony ordered Escargot Bourguignonne.Deliciously hot, buttery, and garlicky!

Lisa ordered the French Onion Soup. A classic dish baked in its own adorable little pot with ooey gooey cheese pouring over the sides.
French onion soup

Superking ordered Veal Sweetbreads.  For those of you who may not know, sweetbreads is a nice collective term used to mean organ meats, in this case pancreas, we were told.  A brand new experience for us. A little nervous but anxious to try it. Surprisingly, it was amazing! Almost tasted like moist baked chicken but fattier and very soft.
veal sweetbreads

I ordered one of their specials, a crepe stuffed with crabmeat and topped with a creamy sauce. A deliciously perfect blend of creamy sweetness and succulent crab without being too rich.
crab crepe

Next we ordered some Caesar salads with a side of anchovies. The salads were served in these huge very heavy bowls. It was crisp with a lovely Caesar dressing and the anchovies added a nice salty touch.
Caesar salad with anchovies

The entrees were all served in a similar style. Large rectangular plates with the meat in the middle and a variety of vegetables (and a fruit) along the top. A poached pear, shredded squash, a parsnip, sugar snap peas in the pod, a beet, and a couple potato slices. Each added a surprising unique element to the dishes.  I was especially surprised at how sweet the parsnip and the beet were, having never eaten them before.

Tony's entree was a special Lobster in cream sauce. Sweet and juicy!

Lisa's entree was Veal Scallopini Normand, which has fresh apples and a Calvados Cream Sauce. One of the favorite dishes of the table. The apples added a lovely sweet crunch to the veal.
veal with apples

Superking's entree was also Veal Scallopini but was served with a Cognac Cream Sauce. Also very lovely.
veal with cognac sauce

My entree was the Rack of Lamb. Beautiful presentation. Prepared medium, it was delectable.
rack of lamb
here the lamb rack leftover

For dessert, we picked three to share. A Dark Chocolate Cake. Rich with a mousse interior, drizzled with a raspberry sauce and accompanied by a few berries.
chocolate cake

A Limoncello cake. I'm not usually a huge lemon fan but this lemon dessert was so light and fresh and lovely! What's not to like?
limoncello cake

And my favorite part of the night...FIRE!!  A Mixed Berry Jubilee flambeed at your table in brandy and raspberry liqueur served on top of creamy vanilla ice cream in a fancy dessert glass! The berries were strawberries, blueberries, and cherries (a lovely surprise).  Oh so heavenly!! And a beautiful entertaining presentation!

cooking the berries

here comes the fire!

its hard to capture a good picture of a man dancing around making fire
very elegant

very yummy

Our waiter and all the servers were amazing. All of them greeted us with smiles and bows as we arrived and did the same as we left. We felt like royalty. And when I forgot my take-home box containing my leftover lamb, the waiter even ran to bring it to us in our car before we drove off! Definitely a hidden gem of Vienna! When are we going again, Tony and Lisa??  :)
Superking and I revelling in the afterglow of our meal and time with friends


  1. Sounds tummy. I may have to get my passport out and go to Vienna for dinner

  2. The flambe' fruit over ice cream was so amazing I will be going there often even if just to order dessert! I think we may need to make Cafe Renaissance an annual company event.

  3. the king that is (questionably) superMarch 20, 2011 at 12:17 PM

    sweetbreads FTW - seriously - dumb culinarily ignorant americans - you are missing out. whilst part of me wants to keep the sweetbreads to myself, i have to say that cuisine like sweetbreads is a rare and ultra-delicious treat. soft, creamy, savory - ugh - so good. the meal was epic, no question. but gimme mah sweetbreads!