I had a wine dinner with some friends at Floataway Cafe this past weekend. I was more than a touch embarrassed by the looks we received as we cut a wide swath through the center of the restaurant, toting in our own wine glasses and fifteen bottles of wine. More than a few sips of wine helped the shame subside, though we continued to receive inquisitive glares. I wonder what restaurants which will accomodate our marathon tastings (as the staff at Floataway so excellently did) really think of us in this situation, but I don’t want to get too deep into a future post I’ve been thinking about.
It’s been years since I’ve been to Floataway, my last time being a disappointment as my simple fresh pasta dish was horrendously clumped together.
This time was pleasant, and as stated the service was noteworthy. Our group ordered a set menu to make things simple – a couple of oysters per person, a salad, gnocchi with mushrooms, and a choice of hanger steak or duck breast (all but one got the duck). The pizza was a pass, too thick and doughy in the center, but with excellent smokey cheese. The only other item which didn’t meet the expectation of Floataway’s pedigree were the gnocchi, which were mushy and reduced to mashed potato with a touch of the fork. Perhaps not enough flour to potato ratio, or more likely they were overcooked, which can happen when preparing one hundred individual dumplings at the same time.
The table was in agreement, the most notable dish was the little gem salad. The lettuce itself was great, little gem being relatively firm and snappy, but with a butter lettuce flavor. And it was perfectly dressed, a light coating across all leaves, with just the right amount of salt – a lesson in balance and seasoning.
It reminded me of one course of my meal at L’Arpege – a similarly simple lettuce salad, which was also one of the most memorable courses of the most expensive lunch of my life. The duck at Floataway (and in parallel, at L’Arpege) was cooked quite well – medium rare, with crisp skin – and it was right tasty, but to me, it’s almost more rare to find a notable, simple salad.
I’ve been making more salads at home, and find that flake salt is a must. Large crystals of kosher salt are gritty with overly salty bursts of flavor. Thin sheets of Maldon distribute well and melt on the tongue in a very pleasing and almost unnoticeable way.
Side note – I continue to be fascinated by orange wines. Gravner is one of the kings of the style, but it’s not available in Georgia. The Radikon is available, on a very limited basis, at Le Caveau in Chamblee.