CLOSED:Watercress [5/5]
5 (100%) 1 vote

You all may remember back in October when I took a short sojourn to take a certain exam? Well, in mid December I received a very official letter telling me I had passed! Clearly this is something to be celebrated with a nice dinner out. But of course there was Christmas, and then there was life and so it was mid January before we managed to get our celebrating done properly.

We chose to try the new Watercress location at Bridge St. We had tried the downtown location with mixed opinions some time ago and the hubby wanted to try this one. Located just across from the Monaco theater, they have taken the old Dolce spot and toned down the glam, turning up the relaxation.

We had made reservations in advance so we waited just a few minutes before being seated. (Wait times were running nearly an hour so I would suggest reservations). Once we were seated, we began poring over the menu where the Sweet Potato Gravy Fries caught our attention. We made the totally healthy and unbiased decision to skip salads and order that instead.

With that decided, we moved onto selecting the remainder of the meal. I had heard the server mention a special with salmon that featured the gnocchi in pesto, so I settled on that. My husband opted for the Fillet Mignon with Sautéed Haricot Vert, mashed potatoes, and a Creole Worcestershire Butter Cream sauce.

We placed our order and settled in with our drinks, taking in the lovely light jazz music and studying the aged wood panels installed on the walls. We chatted and relaxed and were just getting around to wondering where our appetizer had gotten off to when it arrived.

As you are probably aware, if you have read this blog for any length of time, I have something of a love affair with french fries. Not coincidentally, I also have really high standards for my fries. Sure I’ll eat your standard diner fries but I don’t get excited about them. These are totally excitement worthy.

In a elegant, southern version of Poutine, the sweet potato fries are covered in a gravy made with Andouille sausage and topped with sharp white cheddar and bits of green onions. The fries were lightly sweet, the sausage gave just a hint of spice, and the onions lent a tangy crunch. The smooth texture of the gravy, the melty cheese, and the crunchy-on-the-outside-soft-on-the-inside fries had a nice balance. The entire dish was wonderfully complimentary with each piece working in total harmony.

We finished our fries and continued our happy chatter. I watched the parties seated near us–happy couples, families and friends celebrating birthdays–and smiled at their obvious happiness.

When our meals came out, I was surprised to find myself facing a bowl full of shrimp. Given family allergies to shellfish and a strong dislike for the texture, shrimp is something I generally avoid. At first, I thought I had simply missed the fact that shrimp came with the dish as well, but upon closer inspection I realized there was no salmon. Our server had run off to grab an extra plate for the shrimp tails so when she returned I inquired about the missing salmon. Talk about mud on my face. There had apparently been TWO specials that night. One was “the special”, the other was “the catch of the day”. I had heard the catch of the day but had asked for “the special”. Which was, as it turned out, a very gorgeous looking bowl of shrimp over pasta.

I hesitated, not wanting to make a fuss, but not really wanting to pay for a high dollar meal when there was a good chance I would dislike it. Our server saw my pause and asked “Do you not like shrimp?” I regretfully shook my head and she whisked away my plate to get it corrected. I was incredibly impressed with how gracefully she (and the kitchen) handled the mistake. She accepted my confusion and worked things so that my meal was less than 5 minutes late. I wouldn’t have minded waiting since it was my own mishearing but the fact that the kitchen was able to catch my meal up so that my husband and I could still eat together? Outstanding customer service.

The salmon was medium rare, nearing sashimi territory, but marked with a beautiful sear. The seasoning was simple, just some lemon, salt and pepper, but it paired well with the strong creamy pesto sauce. The gnocchi were soft but not mushy and had good company in the crunchy bits of bacon and adorably tiny stalky mushrooms. The mushrooms I found surprisingly agreeable, with their mild flavor and long stalk they felt and tasted more like asparagus than mushrooms. Small springs of greens rounded out the dish.

The hubby was thrilled with his meal, citing his steak as the best he’s had in Huntsville yet. The entire dish was simple and classic. The most surprising flavor came from the Creole Worcestershire Butter Cream sauce which had the zip of Worcestershire sauce and the melting creaminess of a butter based sauce.

For desert, we were intrigued by a lemon meringue tartlet. Lemon curd is piled into a crispy butter crust, topped with torched meringue, and drizzled with peach pie coulis.

The curd was smooth, sweet followed by tart. The crust was crunchy like shortbread and coarse in the way of graham cracker crusts. The meringue was thick and full, leaning towards the taste of toasted marshmallow. The peach coulis was the standout ingredient, sweet, fresh and liable to make you want to lick the plate. Taken together, the desert was well balanced, lightly sweet and creamy with a bit of crunch.

I was greatly impressed with Watercress. Their ambiance was relaxing, the pace leisurely, and the service prompt (and forgiving!). The price point is a bit lower than other fine dining spots and they include sandwiches and soups as lower price point items even on their dinner menu. A commitment to local ingredients means that you know your veggies are in tip-top shape when they go into your dish. And the sweet potato gravy fries are not to be missed. That trifecta (relatively affordable, sustainable, and at least one dish worthy of a bucket list) makes them an excellent choice for a fancy night out or even a quick drink and nibble before catching a movie. One thing is for sure, the hubby and I will be back.

Total for the meal: $73.45 (Includes: one appetizer, two entrees, one dessert and two soft drinks.)

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