Winter is in full swing and changing seasons mean changing menus. Out with the pumpkin, in with the citrus, kumquats and comfort food. Today, Black Eye Capitol Hill rolls out a new winter menu with some savory dishes, cocktails and desserts worth going out of your way for. Chef Alex Figura, most recently of Lower48 Kitchen and who consulted on Black Eye's opening menu, is now in the Cap Hill kitchen full time, leading the creative twists on some old-school favorites like lasagna, grits and pork belly buns — while new flavors behind the bar have been a fun challenge for the entire staff. When every bartender has a creation of their own on the menu, coming up with new drinks is truly a collaboration of talents. And don’t skip dessert! The thoughtful details Black Eye is becoming known for find themselves from beginning to end of your dining experience, leaving you with sweet winter flavors that will make you swoon.
Working on your winter body? The lasagna is the dish for you. Beef and pork belly Bolognese, fresh mozzarella and a sweet and sour compote make this traditional Italian dish more than just a comfort-food staple. Melty mozzarella warms the soul while a savory Bolognese sauce fills you up. This is co-owner Steven Water’s favorite dish on the new menu and one that chef Figura was inspired by from a version his father makes.
Meeting friends? The steamed buns are a fun and interactive take on a traditional bao bun — a build-your-own pork belly adventure. Accompaniments include ginger scallion sauce, comeback sauce (a Southern specialty), fresno chile confit, pickled green tomatoes, pickled red onions, caramelized onions, sour kraut and pickles. It’s a great nosh to share with a few friends over cocktails; everybody gets what they want, and nothing they don’t. You want spice or crunch? You got it. If your squad rolls with a veggie, the buns are still delicious sans pork belly and heavy on the pickled flavor blasts.
Feeling adventurous? Try the grits, which aren't as rich as your traditional plate of cheesy heaven, but offer a slight tang from the pickled shiitake mushrooms. But make no mistake, this reinvented southern staple still leaves you with a melt-in your mouth, lose-track-of-time feeling. Both oyster and shiitake mushrooms make an appearance, and when combined with the subtle warmth of chili oil, it’s sure to warm you up this winter.
If you're feeling the lure of the bar, stay a while; the new cocktails have been thoughtfully crafted with winter, and you, in mind. There's not a single drink above $10 on the menu, a rarity in today’s craft cocktail scene. What you'll find: liquid vehicles for creative flavors that go down easy. A few of the new drinks include Love and a Question, A Repeating Dream and The Cobbler and Stork. Note the literary references—each of the cocktails are named after famous poems. While each cocktail is unique and incorporates flavors you might not expect, A Repeating Dream is a must try. Diplomatico añejo rum, Angostura amaro, brown-butter extract, vanilla syrup, egg white and shaved nutmeg make this drink the embodiment of winter. It’s creamy and light at the same time and the subtle flavor from the housemade brown-butter extract makes the drink so smooth I'd say it melts into your mouth — if it weren't already a liquid.
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For the sweet of tooth, skip the savory and head strait toward the confections. The Meyer lemon tart and stout sticky toffee pudding are both unlike standard versions of the desserts found elsewhere. Details like peppered whipped cream balance out the sweet citrus of the tart while Black Eye espresso found in the sticky toffee compliments a flavorful and moist stout bread pudding with housemade ginger ice cream.
When you walk into Black Eye Cap Hill, you walk into much more than a place to grab your morning coffee. You walk into the intersection of a perfectly conjoined cocktail bar, restaurant and coffee shop. The three moving parts operate seamlessly around each other, giving patrons cocktails, food and coffee — morning or night. The staff is cross-trained to do everything and it’s evident that everyone pitches in where they are needed. It’s like a family run restaurant, except nobody’s related. The vibe is a combination of metropolitan New York in the '20s and Cheers (where everybody knows your name) — and it’s incredibly charming. With Figura on board and the promise of more seasonal menu changes, Black Eye will have no problem keeping itself fresh.