We ate at Rivoli last night.
It was warm out; I wore my olive green sueded button-down shirt over the black lycra-blend skirt, black microfiber knee socks and my black sneakers, the rose quartz dangly earrings, and my black leather jacket.
Rahul, after a lot of silly deliberation with his navy and brown sport coats over blue jeans, ended up just wearing a nice light blue dress shirt tucked into his jeans with the braided brown leather belt, and the black leather jacket over it.
Seated with a not-quite-satisfying view of the garden--I could see (well-lit) ferns and camellias and white African violets that made me think of Jen's Secretary's Day flower arrangement from Uncle George, curved around the rounded stone patio, with some big tree--fig maybe--arching overhead. Cats wandered around--Rahul saw a black one, but I could only see a long-haired tortoiseshell cat cleaning itself in the middle of the patio. The table next to us had a birthday; the waiter sprinkled metallic "Happy Birthday" confetti over the table, and I kept sneaking glances at her big bouquet of candy-striped tulips laid on the chair--white with thick pink stripes, probably two dozen of them.
The bread was OK--the crust was too chewy and thick for my taste, although the inside was nice and wheaty--the whole served with a little dish of butter and a little dish of kosher or sea salt.
We started with some really delicious portabella mushroom fritters--meaty and juicy and thick inside (just big slices of the cap) covered in a crunchy, salty batter, with capers and shaved parmesan scattered on top, on a little bed of dressed arugula, and lemon aioli to dip it in.
Rahul had mushroom, ricotta and chard cannelloni with roast pepper vinaigrette, fonduta, roast shiitake mushrooms and fried sage. I tried a bite--wasn't that impressed; the texture of the filling was dissatisfying to me, too chunky, with too strong & wild a vegetable taste from the chard. It was pale, almost flabby-looking, with a white sauce (the fonduta) on top and the red pepper puree underneath. The shiitakes just sat on top of the cannelloni.
I had grilled Gulf shrimp with white corn pudding, oven roast tomato, snap pea and cucumber ragout , shrimp butter and basil aïoli. It was really good. The ragout was a little weird--didn't quite seem to go with the rest; the whole thing was served together, which I hadn't expected--a sea of shrimp butter and aioli (pale yellow with green commas and pools here and there) with a few saggy cherry tomatoes scattered around with tiny discs of cucumber and little julienned pieces of peapod, the corn pudding on top in a big molded mound, and the grilled shrimp scattered on top and around it--a little smaller and drier than I would have liked, but delicious nonetheless. The corn pudding was amazingly good (Rahul didn't like it that much, though, although he loved the sauce)--yellowy and browned from the oven around the top edges, but creamy and rich and light and eggy inside, with a strong sweet corn taste and kernels (but no distracting kernel husks) well-mixed into the pudding.
I wanted the buttermilk and Meyer lemon panna cotta with strawberries and whipped cream for dessert, but they were out of it, so we went without and just went home, where we had a harrowing evening clipping guinea pig nails.