My wife and I recently bundled up and had a romantic anniversary dinner on SO Restaurant-Bar’s back patio. There is only one table for two tucked in the rear of the restaurant, so if you are not opposed to chilly temps and enjoy a tranquil setting, consider reserving this spot.
Like many folks, I often view SO as a special occasion restaurant. The prices are some of the highest in town, but the rustic setting is unmatched and the quality ingredients and meticulous, time-consuming preparation involved with many of the dishes make the exorbitant prices somewhat palatable. Chef Copeland has also come up with a “Petite Fare” section to the menu with coinciding lower prices. Wise move.
We started our dinner with an order of Mean Joe Green’s French Onion Soup and Caesar Salad. I have praised this soup before, mainly for its straightforward, traditional take on a classic. My wife enjoyed it so much that she only offered up a small taste. I focused my attention on the Caesar, a well-dressed salad, complete with romaine, buttered croutons, peppercorns, pecorino, and some delightful, marinated anchovies, the latter of which is the hallmark of any truly memorable Caesar. It all paired nicely with my glass of Sean Minor Merlot.
Within minutes of finishing our soup and salad, an order of Crispy Brussel Sprouts hit the table. While not crispy, each sizeable, charred piece lacked any hint of bitterness so often associated with Brussels sprouts. Bacon aioli and a heavy hand of pecorino have a way of doing that.
The Millennium Meatball, one of Copeland’s small plate creative spins, is a fried ball of three-day braised beef swimming in a tomato, carrot, and cognac espagnole sauce. This is a plate best shared for two people as its richness and decadence can be overwhelming after a few bites. In a meal comprised of one hit after another, the meatball was only outdone by our entrée of chicken & dumplings. While this was chicken & dumplings by name, the plate will remind you nothing of the comfort food classic. Pillowy, smoked pecorino gnocchi is a bold substitute from the traditional rolled dough variety, as is the orange sesame broth, a complex liquid imbued with Asian flavor. The tender, sliced chicken breast is as tasty as it is beautiful. My only criticism of the dish, and, for that matter, our entire menu, was its inclusion of braised beef shreds that acted as almost a garnish. Whether intentional or not, the beef had no business residing in the chicken & dumplings. It was a slight misstep in an otherwise fantastic dinner.
We received stellar service throughout the entire meal, which has proven to be the standard of a SO’s dining experience. I will be keeping an eye on the menu to see what’s in store for a chef who isn’t afraid to continually step outside the box and showcase his creativity in a market that I hope is ready to embrace it.
3610 Kavanaugh Blvd
Hours: Wednesday-Sunday 4 p.m.-10 p.m.