Generic kid-pleasing meals

September 29, 2010

It’s not been a significant week in the kitchen. It has, however, been a tough week at school for NS, and at work for me. So I took him out to eat Monday night (Buffalo Wild Wings; sigh. How many ways can we sauce pre-fab chicken?), left him on his own with meatballs last night, and babied him with homemade mac and cheese and frozen fish filets tonight.

We can’t always be blindingly creative. Sometimes we can’t be creative much atall. We can generally write somewhat creatively about not being creative, but sometimes we bomb on that one too.

However, lest you think I have been suffering in a culinary wasteland this week, let me hasten to inform you differently. In fact, I had dinner at Brave New Restaurant in Little Rock last night. Those of you with a working familiarity with Brave will know what this means. For the rest of you, Brave is consistently one of the best three or four restaurants in Little Rock. And while last night’s dinner was far from the best I’ve had there, it was still the best restaurant meal I’ve had in I-can’t-remember-when.

Peter Brave has been restauranting in North Little Rock and Little Rock for years. He had a restaurant in downtown NLR, the name of which I can’t recall, but when he moved across the river, he located in an office building that looks out over the river. With a cool balcony for which last night was perfect. And wonderful food, centered around fresh, local ingredients, mostly simply prepared but with touches of lavishness that just make them sparkle.

I went with my friend Sharon and her sister Lana, who were in the Rock for a meeting the next day. Sharon is a foodie like me, so when she asked where I liked to eat these days, Brave was one of the first that came to mind. Plus, it’s been a good while since I’ve been there.

I tend to go with the specials at Brave, because they’re what looked good to Peter at the market that day. So I went for the scallops, in large part because I was intrigued by the notion of a cranberry beurre blanc (Peter does love him some beurre blanc). The scallops were wonderful, the beurre blanc not as cranberry-ish as I’d imagined it might be, but still good; it’s hard not to have a good beurre blanc unless you just don’t prepare it well, and that is Not A Problem at Brave. Sharon had the seared ahi tuna; I swapped her a scallop for a sizeable chunk of tuna, and I’m still not certain who had the better entree.

Lana had a beef tenderloin. She did not share. In fairness, she may have offered; but after two martinis and nearly half a bottle of red wine, I can’t say that I recall if she did or not. Sharon, you are NOT a good influence on me when it comes to drinking and me having to drive a freakin’ hour back to Little Rock. I’m just sayin’.

Speaking of drinking: martinis at Brave now come in a martini glass with a curvy stem, like this one:

except it’s not blue. And they’re hard as hell to pick up by the stem and drink without sloshing the Most Excellent Martini out of the glass, which I most assuredly did NOT want to do (I contemplated licking it up off the table, and decided that was a bit over-the-top). So I asked for, and got, the second martini in a highball glass. I may never use a martini glass again, except when I want to feel like Dorothy Parker.

Anyway, it was a wonderful dinner. Much better than lunch at the Flying Fish after the meeting today, when what is usually a good salad turned out significantly lackluster. I had the grilled shrimp salad;  the shrimp were badly overcooked (to the point of being leathery), and completely unseasoned, and the balsamic viniagrette was not a very good one.  Hushpuppies were excellent, though.

And tonight I had popcorn and a Diet Coke. Just wasn’t in the notion for real food. I may follow that up with some Raisin Bran or some yogurt. And since I have enough mac and cheese to feed NS again tomorrow night, and he’ll be perfectly fine with that, I can make the pasta e lenticche that I’ve been wanting to try because I’ve got these damn lentils that need to be used up.

And with that, friends, mama ‘n ’em, and all the rest of y’all, I’m calling it a night.

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