Jeff Smith 12:30 p.m., April 23
Old Town: Back from the dead with a deal
Cabana-filled courtyard is just the start: great lunch deal is the real surprise
“Tuesday to Friday,12-3,” the sidewalk sign says, “small salad, flatbread and a glass of wine or beer, $8.”
That stops me. I’m on my way up Old Town’s Congress Street, graveyard of restaurants. So near the plaza, so far from tourists.
This place used to be the Wine Cabana. That hit the dust late last year. But they left behind their cabanas. Now, in its place, this place has become Christopher’s on Congress (2539 Congress Street, Suite A, Old Town, 619-450-4154). Says it’s a “Craft Wine Beer Bar…featuring cuisine from Chef Christopher Tatalovich.”
It’s kinda swanky actually, and the cabanas are where you’d hide out with your novia to whisper sweet nothings and sip sweet wines till you’re both a bit silly.
But for me, here at lunchtime, the sweetest thing of all is this deal.
Christopher is doing the serving at the bar and the cooking in the li’l kitchen.
I ask for the $8 lunch deal, and then decide on which flatbread.
He has all sorts, from the grilled Angus steak one, with garlic white sauce, mozzarella cheese, roasted peppers and spinach, to the grilled sausage with spinach, roasted garlic, red sauce and mozzarella, to the Mediterranean (olives, artichokes, bell peppers, pesto sauce and mozzarella).
Normally they’re $10-$12 just on their own.
But the biggest, and I mean biggest, surprise comes before the food. It’s the wine. I ask for a Costa de Oro sauvignon blanc/chardonnay blend. And Christopher pours a really large glass just about two thirds full.
I mean this is nothing like the “Honey I shrank the wine glasses for happy hour” sizes you get downtown. This is gen-er-oso. Nice wine too. Mr. Tatalovich...
...says he comes from a long line of Serbian wine aficionados. They don’t believe in skimping.
The salad's a nice vinaigrette arugula with croutons...
...and the flatbread – I chose the shrimp one – has a beautiful strong garlic aroma. Ten inches, cut into six segments. Lots of shrimp locked into the melted mozzarella. Nicely burnt edges, crispy but tender.
And so right with this vino.
I mean, this place is a find. This deal is a deal you’ll never get downtown in a month of Sundays because, well, for starters, rents on Congress Street must be a quarter what they are in the Gaslamp.
Whatever, a deal's a deal. I’ll be back.
More in upcoming Tin Fork.
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