Neighborhood: Rappahannock, Virginia
Part two of our Inn tour (or three I guess), Official Girlfriend of DCWD Texas stopped by Cafe Indigo for the other dinner that weekend.
Cafe Indigo is a charming little restaurant tucked away in the back of a little barn-like complex, called River District Arts, home to an art cooperative, with open artists' stalls and a studio (similar to the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria). Walking into the space, you get hit with a sudden and comforting scent of pistachios or almonds or whatever the store up front is selling at that point.
The interior of the actual restaurant is a modernized barn, in a totally non-perjorative way (we personally love that aesthetic). Wooden cross-beams overhang the restaurant space, bathed in white and the restaurant's eponymous color. On one side is a small bar and an old piano, while in the back is an open kitchen. Everyone is warm and friendly, and the space is handsome and inviting.
The chef at Cafe Indigo has a great provenance, having worked at The Inn and Bourbon Steak. The menu therefore is simple, straightforward, and interestingly put together.
To start, we split the butternut squash soup with curried crispy rice. This was perfectly fine, though fairly ordinary in retrospect. Unlike some other autumn soups, this wasn't as rich and full as I wanted it; in fact, it was a little thin. Similarly, the rice crisps vacillated between interesting and distracting. I don't very much like rice cakes, but that's what it tasted like.
For our main course, I ordered the aged ribeye served with swiss chard, potato croquettes, carrots, and cipollini onions in a red wine sauce. This was a much better step, seared well with a lot of flavor, and wonderfully seasonal considering the cold weather outside. In fact, it was so good that the ethical eater Texas decided to switch plates with me.
In return, I received her order of day boat halibut, with cauliflower cous cous, lemon gremolata, and crispy shallots. The mix of cauliflower flavor and lemon and garlic was a perfect match with the soft halibut, and the bed of spaghetti squash underneath made for a wonderful texture contrast while still matching the overall flavor profile.
Last up was a pumpkin tartlet with whipped cream. This was a solid hit of pumpkin flavor, like opening up the oven while baking a pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving. It was smooth and perfectly fine, though again, nothing to call home about.
On the way out, we walked over to the kitchen to see what the chef was cooking that smelled so wonderful. Braised beef tongue... until next time.
A good meal in a great space.
Food Rating: *** (out of 5)
Date Rating: 4 Hearts (out of 5)
Dress Code: Casual
Bar Rating: Quiet Drinks
Vibe: Calm to chatty
Cost: $$$ (out of 5) ($50-75 for two)
Pairing: Besides the art space, the Cafe shares a lot with Copper Fox Antiques, a cavernous space with a wide and interesting collection of antiques, and the Copper Fox Distillery, which offers hourly tours of its whiskey-making plant.