This past weekend was an eventful one for me, as I crossed quite a major threshold. I have officially moved from ingenue to woman of the world (29 to 30 if that was not clear).
And I was feted in a manner appropriate to the occasion. As is our birthday tradition, Zenia and I, who share a birthday, took each other out to a decadent dinner just prior to our party on Friday night. The lovely gentlemen at Blue Ribbon plied us with free champagne and nibbles, and then, suitably lubricated, we convened with friends in the west village late into the night. The remainder of the weekend consisted of lazy brunches with those I hadn't seen in much too long, art exhibitions and museums, and some blissful alone time with a good book. Heaven.
The weekend was bookended perfectly as Paul had made dinner reservations for Sunday night to celebrate the blessed day of my birth. I am always excited to have quality time with my beloved, but I was particularly thrilled because he had chosen a restaurant I had never heard of. Now Paul is quite up on all things cool and new and cutting edge but I am most certainly the food maven in the relationship. So the fact that I had no idea where he was taking me could have meant either that it was very good or very bad.
As I suspected, the restaurant was very, very good...and new and cool and cutting edge.
The Smile didn't look like much from the outside
but the inside was warm and inviting. It just reeked of high quality, clean tasting honest food.
The place is quirky. By day it is a store selling various pieces of clothing, tea and high quality soap with a cafe in the back. It is closed in the evenings with the exception of dinner on Sundays, which The Smile began serving a couple of weeks ago. As with any hip (or in this case, hipster) spot, a bit of Facebooking is involved. In order to secure a Sunday evening reservation you must join their Facebook group (The Smile) and request one.
If this sounds a bit affected and you are put off, do not be. One of the best aspects of this place is the relaxed and friendly vibe it cultivates. Paul and I were greeted by and taken very good care of all night by a warm, friendly pretty young woman in a long prairie dress. The place is BYO, and the price quoted for dinner includes three courses, tax and tip so you will never be surprised by an exorbitant bill.
As for the food? Of course it is no Per Se, but it is very good, and is the type of food I would be happy to pay for. I find so often that I go to restaurants and leave thinking why on earth did I just pay for something that I could recreate more successfully at home? I could not make that argument here.
The trio of savory Mediterranean influenced dips were fresh and interesting (a bit too interesting...we filled up on them too early in the meal!), and my gazpacho was quite spirited. It deftly avoided that salsa/tomato sauce trap that so many versions fall into. Main courses were simple and satisfying, and desserts were perfumed and lovely. Plus which I was so happy not to see the ubiquitous molten chocolate cake on the menu!
So quickly, join the Facebook group and take your dates, first or otherwise, there while it is still a hidden gem. And prepare to be lauded for your knowledge of underground dining.