Last night we joined our friends Rob and Shara for dinner and ballet. In all my twenty-seven years on this earth, I had not seen the Nutcracker. Isn’t that sad?
We started with dinner at East Side Cafe, one of my favorite nice-but-not-too-pretentious-with-entrees-under-$20 restaurants. The restaurant has a garden in the back that supplies many of the vegetables and herbs that are used in the kitchen. It’s an old house with wooden floors, divided into several cozy dining rooms. I was excited to order my favorite appetizer, the Baked Brie with Apple Chutney. Warm toasted bread with a smear of melted brie and a dollop of cool, sweet chutney…in the words of my friend Joy, it’s so good it feels like your mouth might turn inside out. We also shared the ginger and mushroom potstickers, perfectly seasoned and served with a delicious soy vinaigrette.
Salads came next, topped with East Side Cafe’s signature creamy feta dressing, and then came the entrees. I had the Penne Pasta Pomodoro, which was served on top of baby greens. This is probably my favorite way to eat pasta…with the crunch of salad greens in every bite. It was topped with feta and loaded with mushrooms. Justin and Shara had the Wild Mushroom Crepes, which they loved, and Rob had the Pesto Ravioli, which he decided was good, but not fabulous. We postponed dessert until after the ballet.
Ballet Austin’s performance of the Nutcracker was just beautiful. My knowledge of ballet is extremely limited, but I can say that there were lots of pretty jumps and graceful twirls. I think I liked the snowflakes the best, though all the dances were wonderful. Our own Mayor Will Wynn even played a small part in the ballet, as Mother Ginger.
After the show, we headed to Dolce Vita for dessert. This tiny cafe seems so upscale, sophisticated, and cultured compared to our regular coffee-shop hangouts. We don’t go often, but it was perfect for a post-ballet treat. I usually order the chocolate gelato, which is phenomenal, but last night I just had to try the Chocolate Peanut Butter Disaster. It was dreamy…a fudgy dark chocolate torte filled with creamy, almost runny peanut butter. It was so good that I ate too much of it. Rob settled on the coconut sorbet (also delicious), while Shara and Justin had the carrot cake.
It was a night of beautiful music and graceful dance sandwiched between excellent food. I couldn’t ask for more.