As a culinary school graduate, there are certain things you seem to look for in a restaurant ($$ and above) and these things are non-negotiable. They include: available parking, gracious and knowledgeable service, comfortable atmosphere, wide variety of drinks (including a wine list/cocktail menu) and last but not least, a diverse menu composed of dishes that are creative and delicious.
I met Francys at Christoph Restaurant last week to catch up, enjoy a few drinks and maybe try an appetizer. We choose Christoph because of its easily accessible location on the Avenida Tiradentes and because neither of us had visited the restaurant before, since it had only been open for about 4 months. I arrived and there was sufficient parking and as I walked in I saw they had a beautiful terrace for those wanting to enjoy the city lights during the night. Christoph’s decoration is fun-looking, with dripping chandeliers and a color palette focusing on black and whites. The tall, main door has an iconic cut out of a fork, and when you enter the wall to the left is wallpapered with symbolic faces on a background of white. The restaurant itself is not huge, but perfectly sized to accommodate groups.
I requested to sit at the bar while waiting for my friend and asked the bartender for a cocktail menu, to which he responded that they did not possess one. I wondered, how much is trouble is elaborating a simple cocktail menu for your clients? Instead, he started rattling off everything they had at the bar and this method just irks me. I don’t want a monologue of the offerings (except when just announcing the DAILY specials) and prefer a printed menu. I requested something refreshing with natural fruits and he told me they had special sangrias: Lychee-Coconut, Mandarin, Red Wine, and White Wine. I choose the Lychee-Coconut, being the coconut lover that I am.
He began working on my sangria behind the bar (I was the only one at the bar at the moment) and it took him approximately 10 minutes to present it to me. Fruit was taken from low boys, in their original packaging, which made me doubt that they had ever been washed. I’m specially concerned of the strawberries by this point, knowing the amount of pesticides used on them. My sangria consisted of: strips of coconut meat, slices of strawberries, a lychee at the bottom, julienned pear and a variety of rums and liqueurs.It arrived in a huge glass, making it my drink for the entire night! The predominant flavors (coconut nor lychee) were very present in the liquid, instead were just garnishes in the drink. If I’m going to call something “Hot Chocolate” it better be HOT and have a good amount of Chocolate flavor, right?
After my friend arrived, we moved to a table to share an appetizer because neither of us were very hungry but wanted to try out the menu. She later on ordered the Mandarin Sangria and it was very yummy to me taste, but she commented it was too sweet and lacked alcohol. As we were seated, a waiter came over and brought menus. About 5 minutes later, he came over and asked if we had any questions, to which we asked if he recommended anything extra nice on the menu, to which he did the weirdest thing: he grabbed one of the water glasses on the table (that were never filled during our stay) and started to twirl it by the base. We were in awe that he even did this! Why was he playing with our glassware? Of course, he then rambled on about all the menu items, not knowing much about the flavors or ingredients. We looked over the menu ourselves and settled on tasting the “Eggplant Charlotte”. Our bread basket arrived minutes later, and to our surprise the delicious dip in between the breads was a cream cheese and guava concoction! I love salty/sweet combinations so this was a pleasant surprise. The bread on the left was warmed, but weirdly enough the bread on the right was not (and it does look a bit smashed, right?). Even though, I enjoyed the Guava Cheese immensely!
|Breads with Guava Cheese|
The restaurant started to fill up and the ambiance was great: their music selection made me want to jump up and dance! Our Eggplant Charlotte arrived perfectly on time. It was composed of thin strips of eggplant in a sort of “purse” shape, filled with a puree of sweet potato (not the orange sweet potato, but the light green one you find in Dominican Republic), manchego cheese melted inside. Topped with what seemed to be thin strips of deep fried potatoes and sitting on a tomato “emulsion”.
Let’s begin from top to bottom: the potato strips just tasted like oil, not very appealing. You can actually see them glistening in this picture. We loved the combination of the sweet potato, cheese and eggplant but there was a small, but important ingredient missing: SALT! This entire plate appeared to have been prepared without any salt whatsoever, so we called our waiter over and asked for salt and pepper shakers. And then continuously added salt! Eggplant is an ingredient with a great need, I might say a craving for salt, because without it it tastes bland, as well as any starch puree. But after the addition of our needed amount of salt, it was great! Hot and gooey on the inside, we enjoyed it! The tomato “emulsion”. What’s an emulsion? Simply said, it’s a combination of a liquid and a fat. We both agreed this wasn’t an emulsion, more of a sauce? It was tasty, but just don’t call something a name, when it’s not. We might have been wrong, but we tasted no fat in that “emulsion”.
We only tasted the Eggplant Charlotte and Sangrias on this visit to Christoph Restaurant, so this cannot be taken as a complete restaurant review. Overall, our experience was a fun one because of the great conversation, but missed on flavor and service. Hopefully, our next visit will remove the doubts we have from this restaurant!