Ever since a friend at law school raved about the Volunteer Park Cafe, I’ve been hooked on their breakfast. The decor is laid back: a long communal wooden table in the center and tables for two speckled around it. During lunch and breakfast you order from the counter and pray that a table or a seat is available. Here, you’re likely to find a mixture Capitol Hill’s twenty/thirty something’s and budding young-yuppie families. Menus choices for each course is kept to a minimum. Despite the slimmed-down menu items, I still fret over picking the right item because everything coming out of the VPC kitchen is going to satisfy me.
I could rave about the breakfast, but this is not the time – mostly, because I don’t have photographs (however, the Brie and Apple Panini with Lavender Honey is absurdly amazing). I’m not going to rave about the breakfast because I ate dinner at the VPC for the first time a few nights ago and that, frankly, deserves more attention.
In reflecting on my meal at the VPC, I’m pleasantly surprised with the simplicity and the minimalism of the amount of ingredients used per course. For instance, the daily bruschetta consisted of thin slices of toasted baguette, a smear of pesto, and a topping of pancetta and arugula. Each ingredient possessed a unique task and each ingredient performed its duty flawlessly. Starting with the bread – cut thin and toasted to give just enough substance to hold the toppings together, but not so thick that the toppings become unmanageable. Then you have the combination of peppery arugula, salty pancetta and creamy pesto, which is a trio that should probably be used in every meal imaginable.
The pizza, which in this case was the Bianco, is topped with caramelized onions, chevre, fresh mozzarella, fontina and parmesan. The mozzarella, fontina and parmesan merely provide a base layer for the chevre and caramelized onion to take center stage. Both ingredients are sweet and smooth; however, the chevre possesses a near velvet-like quality while the caramelized onion represent the burst of flavor that awakens this dish.
The only remorse I have as I write this article is the chance that it will inspire more people to eat at the VPC, which of course would make my chances of getting a table at breakfast that much harder.