Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Lunch at Coastal Kitchen

I was trapped in a waiting room downtown, sitting quietly while my appetite roared. Hunger pangs gnawed at the edges of my thoughts, stomach rumbles grew in volume, and I was SO ready for lunch. RL took pity on me and proposed a quick trip to Capitol Hill for lunch at  Coastal Kitchena favorite restaurant in years past. Good choice. The place has changed a bit, been renovated and even added an oyster bar since our last visit.  I was ready to love it once again.

Our booth had flat wooden seats that really needed cushions for comfort, and more frequent cleaning so diners could slide in and not stick to mystery goo. This was not a great re-introduction to an old favorite. Luckily the Kitchen has retained its quirky neighborhood hangout vibe and the food hasn't missed a beat. Coastal is known for seasonal menus based on a regional theme, and this season it's all about New Orleans. Check out some of the tempting NOLA menu items, along with ongoing Coastal favorites (menu link). I'm ready to return and work my way through more of the seasonal dishes, beginning with breakfast and a Sazerac Slam, or maybe Shrimp and Grits...

Calamari Lonesome - With fried lemon, garlic, scallions and herbs alongside house-made aioli. 
RL's plate arrived piled high with calamari rings, rounds and tentacles, squid so tempting I almost forgot to grab a photo with the cellphone. Fried lemon? mmmm, tasty. Fried basil? interesting, but not special. The calamari were a bit undercooked, but only slightly. He We ate it all with gusto - calamari, lemons, scallions and herbs.

Rasta Roll-Ups - Chicken marinated in tropical spices, sautéed with poblano peppers and onions, served in grilled tortillas topped with Jamaican aioli. Served with black beans.
"Good choice" was the waiter's comment on this selection, and he was right. I will order this again. The chicken marinade and Jamaican aioli were subtle, wonderful blends of flavors that I couldn't quite identify... tangy yet mellow, spicy but not harsh or too hot. The accompanying lime wedge wasn't necessary, but provided a light citrusy note. The black beans were adequate, a nicely cooked and generous portion but boringly bland, even when hit with a squirt of lime juice. No matter, the three chicken roll-ups (tacos?) were terrific and filling.

I'm ready to play with marinades at home, looking for something light and tropical with just a hint of Jamaican heat. Good eats ahead, I hope.

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