I haven't done much on Friday nights this year - my new "life" as a fifth grade teacher leaves me pretty exhausted by the end of the week. But this past Friday was a exception - I spent a lovely evening at Cafe Cortina with a group of friends. I've always wanted to visit this award winning Italian restaurant. A bit pricey and definitely a splurge, but a wonderful choice for a special meal!
The main room had bits of Italian decor (plates and bottles) but wasn't overly cluttered and had a bit of a warm clean contemporary feeling to it. There was lots of brick and one area near the fireplace that was romantically sectioned off with cozy tables for two. Candlelight was placed throughout the room. (Please excuse the dark grainy pictures, there just wasn't enough light to get clear shots.)
We were greeted by servers who helped us with our coats, chairs, and napkins. All evening the service was equally attentive! The menu is filled with tempting pastas and main courses. I settled on "Brasato Stracotto in Amarone."
Our meals came with a salad of greens and tomatoes tossed with a balsamic dressing that was a bit sharp at first taste. We loved the plates! We also were individually served warm rolls that were so good.
If your main course wasn't pasta, you received a small bit of pasta (or at least it seemed small on the big serving bowl) with some of Cafe Cortina's signature sauce. It was very tasty and I would have gladly had more! In fact, the next day I picked up a jar of their sauce at Westborn Market.
My main course was a beef shank served in a rich wine sauce. On the side was some polenta, caramelized fennel and onions, and some fresh green beans. The presentation with the bone on the beef was quite striking and everything was delicious.
My fellow diners ordered a variety of things including salmon, chicken, and a variety of pasta dishes. I heard no complaints from anyone. I thought serving sizes a bit small, but that left room for dessert.
I shared this lemon cake with a friend. It seemed more like a napoleon with flaky layers with yummy thick cream between them. We both agreed that we would have liked a bit more pronounced lemon taste, but still it was good.
My friends tried a chocolate expresso cake and the creme brulee. I think the creme brulee was the agreed winner of the dessert competition!
The wait staff was wonderful and interacted comfortably with us. The meal was relaxing and unrushed. My friend Gail's test of good service is if her water glass is kept filled - and they got an A+++ on that one - constant refreshing with icy water. A very enjoyable evening and meal - definitely on my list of places to visit again for a special meal!