Restaurant Week: Acacia

I’ll be out of town this weekend, so tonight was my last chance to take advantage of a restaurant week menu here in Richmond. I suppose I took the easy way out going to a restaurant I’ve visited before, but any opportunity to eat at Acacia is tough to pass up. Besides, with a frequently changing menu and prices that keep me from being a regular, it’s not likely I’d be eating something I’ve had before.

So let’s get right to it. ‘Cause this meal was THE JAM.

First course: duck confit with gnocchi, swiss chard, cranberries, and pomegranate molasses. I’m pretty easy to please with duck confit, and this didn’t disappoint. The chard was tender but still a pleasant bright green. But oh, the gnocchi…

I’ve eaten plenty of gnocchi in my short life. I’ve made some crappy gummy gnocchi of my own, I’ve eaten fantastic examples in New Jersey, New York, Florence, and hell, even at Acacia. But these gnocchi were the most pillowy-soft, perfectly cooked nuggets I’ve had. It seems they’d been in the pan with the duck because they had a fine browned exterior and smacked of the savory essence of the confit.

I had mixed feelings about my main course, if I’m totally honest. I ordered the rib eye, a cut of which I’m not too fond. It’s generally a little fatty for my taste, but it was cooked perfectly and tasted delicious. But I ordered this course for one of its accoutrements: the bone marrow pancake. This fluffy, rich, buttery disc was the most delicious thing I’d eaten in a few months. How something could be so light yet so lip-smackingly unctuous I cannot fathom. I would have eaten a short stack had I the chance. Worth the price of admission.

My dessert was the cherry sherbet with black forest cake. Now somebody’s already complained about the size of this offering and, taken on its own, yes, it’s smaller than Acacia’s desserts I’ve had in the past. But I’ll say two things about it beyond how delicious it was. First, after a meal this size, the portion was just right for me. I was able to eat and enjoy the entire dessert without stuffing myself. Second, the execution of this dessert was nearly flawless. I say nearly because I think the sherbet had been sitting on the plate a bit, having melted about 30% by the time it reached my table. But the cherry “paint” on the plate, the little chocolate pebbles, moist nuggets of cake, and the sweet flavor of the sherbet were a delight both visually and on the palate.

So yeah…incredible meal, incredibly satisfying. I don’t have to sell Acacia too hard in this town.

I’ve been fortunate to have experienced a trifecta of great dining experiences during my first year participating in Richmond’s restaurant week. I hope that next year I can hit up at least two places – places I’ve never been – and keep a good thing going. They can’t all be hits, but adventure always comes with at least a little risk.

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