Scutra – Happy Valentine’s Day!
Marc and I decided a couple of weeks ago that we wanted to do a Saturday night Valentine’s celebration, to avoid the actual Valentine’s Day crowds. In an effort to keep it local, we decided to go to Scutra, a high-end eatery in between Arlington Center and Arlington Heights. From the outside and sandwiched between an office building and a liquor store, Scutra seems relatively unassuming. We have heard great things about this restaurant from friends, and one glance at the online menu convinced us that we should definitely try it out.
We arrived to the restaurant about 20 minutes early, because our doggie was unrelenting with his barking. The hostess (who I think was one of the co-owners, actually), asked us if we would like to be seated at a table close to the entrance and the kitchen, or would we like to wait at the bar until our particular table was ready. We opted to hang out at the bar, until it was time. The bartender was very friendly and super chatty, and though I wanted just a glass of wine, he talked us into checking out the cocktail menu, and told us about the night’s specialty cocktail, Cupid’s Kiss (or Cupid’s Smooch, Cupid’s X, Cupid’s Bacio….you get the picture). Marc opted for a gin-and-juice combo, and I tried the Tickled Pink, a champagne concoction that was garnished with a cute little blueberry.
Shortly after our drinks were served, we were seated. The restaurant’s decor is trendy, with soft lighting, comfy “woven” chairs, and comfy cushions. The tables were close together, but Marc and I still felt pretty exclusive, and didn’t have to strain our voices to talk, like in some area restaurants. In all, it was an extremely comfortable and pleasant atmosphere. Most of the diners were older (probably 40+), but we didn’t feel or seem out of place at all
One of the things I had been told about Scutra was that the waitstaff is extremely knowledgeable of food, and is eager to help you at every turn. This was not an exaggeration at all. Our server was kind, and happily answered our questions about our dinner selections. I ordered their baked onion soup à la bierre, topped with a baked brioche crouton and Gruyère cheese. I am happy to say that this soup was far and away one of the best onion soups I have ever had in my life. It was complex, wine-y, flavorful, but also salty and rich. It was all I could do NOT to pick the bowl up and take a sip! Marc started with the mac and cheese ravioli with lobster pieces and lobster brandy sauce. Normally, Marc is not a fan of lobster-in-pasta (because it can easily become overdone), but the server ensured us that this dish would certainly not disappoint — and it didn’t. The lobster in his pasta was tender and succulent, and according to Marc, a wee bit underdone (which was JUST fine with him).
The second course was just as great. I ordered the bourbon-glazed pork chop with cranberry jus, sage spaetzle, and braised apple cider cabbage. Normally, I do not love large cuts of meat, but this dish — especially the sides! — completely called out to me. I’m glad I ordered it. The pork chop was succulent (particularly the bourbon glaze!), and worked so well with the firm spaetzle. I enjoyed every single bite. Marc ordered the special, a veal chop served over mashed potatoes with broccolini in a porcini mushroom sauce. He loved it (and even tried to tell me that his meal was better than mine — scoff, scoff!), and wished for additional bread, in order to sop up the leftover sauce.
Completely stuffed and satisfied, we decided to forgo dessert, though I would have taken another bowl of the onion soup, without a doubt!
I have no doubt, also, that we will be heading back to Scutra at some point in the future, perhaps for special occasions or during a Consortium Weekend. I can’t wait.