Cakes and Ale: 1/6/12

Happy New Year to our loyal readers! It’s our first date night of 2012 and we find ourselves on the square in Decatur. Our original plan is to have beer and pretzels at The Brick Store, one of our favorite watering holes, but it takes us so long to get to the Decatur square from downtown (and we have a 6PM reservation at Cakes and Ale) that we’ll have to save The Brick Store for another night. It seems that Ponce is closed, which is the main road to Decatur from where we are, and the traffic is terrible. After almost an hour, we eventually get to our destination, and are rewarded with a great parking space across the street from the square.

Why We Are Here
We tried to eat at C&A for my birthday at the end of September, but we went on a Monday and were disappointed to find that C&A is closed on Mondays. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution recently reviewed the eatery and gave it four stars, which they give out very rarely. So we are here to see what the fuss is about.

The Decor
C&A moved into this spot from a smaller location in 2011 and there is a lot of wood and brick throughout the historic building. We have an early reservation, so it’s pretty empty when we get there, but by the time we leave the place is packed and they are turning people away. They operate a bakery next door which is connected by a secret hallway near the bathrooms. You can also see into the bakery from our seat in the dining room.

Beer Time
They have about 8 beers on draft and about 8 more in bottles and the list is pretty exotic. We are glad to see that the list is all craft beers, with no mass-produced swill available.

Stillwater Cellar Door and Duck Rabbit Milk Stout. Check out the funny slogan on the glasses.

There is also an extensive wine list and many concoctions that look like they have so much alcohol in them that we would need a cab ride home. I go with a Duck Rabbit Milk Stout from North Carolina while Eve takes a walk on the wild side with a Stillwater Cellar Door from Maryland. The stout has hints of coffee and chocolate, while the Cellar Door is a wheat farmhouse ale with sage. Both are just what we need after another hard week on the job.

Best.Appetizer.Ever
Our waiter tells us that the menu is perfect for sharing, and little does he know that that’s what we do on Date Night. We start off with the Vermont Burrata, which Eve winds up deciding is the best appetizer she has ever had.

Best appetizer ever. Really!

It comes out with loose burrata cheese (think mozzarella) with walnut pesto and roasted kale. The ingredients don’t sound that great on their own, but when you combine them on the crostini that was on the plate (as well as the bread from the bakery next door), they are truly amazing. I should have taken a picture of this plate when it was done because Eve cleaned it off so well that they could have used it again without washing it. It is quite the beginning to our meal.

Trout for Two, and Two for Trout
They really have trout for two on the menu, and what a great way to share on Date Night. The trout is pan-cooked from head to tail, and then put in their wood oven to finish it off and crisp up the skin.

Trout as it is served.

It is served whole on the plate, and since our server offered to filet it for us, we let him take the bones out.

Trout totally de-boned.

We pair the trout with a side dish of mushrooms and a couscous-like grain that we can’t remember the name of (we promise to take better notes on Date Night in the future!).

The dark stuff is mushroom. Wish we could remember the grain.

The trout is moist and full of flavor. It’s not a heavy fish, so it doesn’t fill us up too much, which is good, because that leaves room for dessert!

We Had the Ale, Now Time for Cake!
Did I mention that there is a bakery next door? I’m in the mood for chocolate, and I stick my head into the little bakery window and ask the guy behind the counter what he’s got. He has just the antidote to my chocolate craving, a peanut butter and chocolate cake. I order, and in a couple of minutes the bakery guy comes down the secret hallway with our cake in hand.

Cakes...and ale. Get it?

Think Reese’s cup in a cake and it was well worth the calories. The meal starts and ends with a bang.

That’s a Wrap!
From our Date Night experience, we must conclude that C&A does live up to the hype. It is probably the best meal we have had on Date Night and it’s going to be hard to top it. Stay tuned throughout the year to see if we can continue to find food this good.

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