Thursday, February 14, 2013

Date Night - EDo

After setting the bar pretty high with my first date night in Nob Hill, the pressure was on to make sure a second date night in the same week would hold up.

Luckily, I picked a couple of winning local businesses that helped me deliver another great night out. Last time, I stayed within the Nob Hill area. This time around, I moved things a little further down Central Avenue to EDo.

That's East Downtown. I know the EDo label hasn't really gotten around and I'm not convinced it ever will, but nevertheless, it's home to several excellent local businesses. For some of the best burgers in ABQ, there's Holy Cow, you can get great pizza at Farina Pizzeria, and I often get my coffee fix at The Daily Grind.

But for a date night, I pulled out the big guns and booked a reservation at Artichoke Cafe. I even did it through a nifty little app on my phone.

But first, each date night starts with...

The Gift

It doesn't get much more local than The Octopus and the Fox. I've grown to love this store over time so it was a no-brainer as to where I should shop for a gift while in the EDo area.

As luck would have it, they already had a selection of valentine-ready goods on standby. They say the best gifts are the ones you make yourself. I say the second best are the ones handmade by someone else. There are plenty of locally-made, handcrafted goods to choose from. And with the quirky selection available, you might find one that truly speaks to the quirky relationship you share with your significant other.

Because, really, who wouldn't fall in love over a heart-shaped hand warmer?

The Meal

Just a block away from the OctoFox sits Artichoke Cafe. This place has fancy written all over it, from the linen napkins to the extensive wine list. And to be honest, you'll end up paying for it. The bill (including dessert) rounded up to around 80 dollars. But we both had some amazing food and an unforgettable evening so it was definitely worth it.

When dining at Artichoke Cafe, you've gotta have some artichoke, right?
Remember, scrape each petal. Don't bite it!
To be fair, the low lighting made for some terrible picture-taking but I'll also say that presentation was not the high point of our entrees. Fortunately, the flavors more than made up for it. I had a juicy chicken breast with crispy skin sitting atop a square of yummy polenta. My date chose Veal Scallopini Picatta that came with some super-delicious gnocchi.

Chicken Breast with Polenta
Veal Scallopini Picatta
The Dessert

We opted to stay put for dessert and I'm really glad we did. As we were browsing the dessert menu, our waitress mentioned the ice cream options. There were standards like chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry, but one stood out in particular.

Bleu cheese and apple ice cream.

It was just too strange not to try. Thankfully, my date was an adventurous diner and more than willing to give it a taste. As a backup, just in case the odd combination didn't go over well, I also ordered plain old chocolate ice cream. It turns out, that wasn't necessary.

Oh my gosh, you guys. I would have never thought Bleu cheese and apple would make for one delicious ice cream flavor. Granted, you'd have to be a Bleu cheese fan to begin with, but once you've got the creaminess of the cheese mixed with a hint of apple, everything just works. I'd highly recommend you give it a try. Don't be afraid. Your bravery will pay off.

Come to think of it, that's pretty good advice for dating, too. Or maybe not. Look, I'm not here to offer dating tips, just a little date night help.


The Octopus and the Fox
514 Central Ave SE 
Albuquerque, NM 87102

Artichoke Cafe
424 Central Ave SE
Albuquerque, NM 87102
Artichoke Cafe on Urbanspoon


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