While Michael continued his quest for a Capitol Hill parking spot, I took my place at a charming table decoratively turned out from ribbons of corkwood. Scenes of long ago Russia filled the walls, despite the fact that in its current incarnation this spot, now called Olivar, is a Spanish restaurant. I perused the menu and the specials listed on the blackboard, thinking that I could at least steer us in the right direction once Michael arrived.
First up was sangria, quickly followed by a tray of sliced baguette served with green olives in a pool of seasoned oil, just waiting to be mopped up by the bread. Bright an peppery, the olive oil really hit the spot. Out simple salad of greens, lightly roasted tomatoes, and shards of fresh garlic croutons was also pleasantly spicy and perfectly dressed.
The next dish provided the only disappointment. Don't get me wrong, the sauteed mix of mushrooms was excellent, again just a little spicy and perfectly cooked. The oversized gougere they were served in , however, cleverly appearing on the plate like a carefully mussed burger, was lacking in flavor and just too dry. We ate up the mushrooms eagerly, thinking they would have been better served alongside a few simple slices of fresh bread or toast.
For my main dish, I chose the herby risotto, a bright jewel green pool that came topped with a poached egg just waiting to be poked so it could ooze into the rice below, a dollop of cool, rich tomato quenelle (and honestly, I have no idea what "quenelle" means, but it was tasty) to be stirred into the warm dish, and a lacy Parmesan crisp. Mmm... I didn't miss seafood, my typical restaurant choice, at all with this dish, although by the end of it I was more than full. Michael, on the other hand, enjoyed one of the evening's specials: ribbons of fresh fettuccine with oregano, served with a sort of Spanish take on cordon bleu made of thin pork cutlets with Serrano ham and manchego cheese, breaded and fried.
Full we were, but since this was actually my birthday meal (yes, I am loathe to admit to turning a year older), dessert seemed in order. A lovely warm semolina lemon cake served with sour rhubarb compote and some sort of unidentifiable sorbet that brought it all together made for a sweet end to the meal.