So, if you have been following me lately, you know I am a fan of The Libertine. I have been excited to see they have been pretty well fully booked with reservations a couple of times when I have tried to make a reservation lately (so happy they are taking reservations now). It makes me happy to see a place I really like be successful, even if it means I can’t go that night.
But the other night, we did get a table reserved and went in to try out the latest menu. We started with the artichoke fritters ($8) and the famer’s cheese and olive tapenade crostini ($10). Both were good, but the artichoke fritters were our clear winner of the two. There were 5 little crispy fried balls that were chock full of artichoke and artichoke flavor. There was a distinct lemon flavor as well and a wonderful cilantro aioli to dip in. We really liked these, to the point we had to cut the last one in half to make sure we were exactly even (often hubby eats more than I do). This was something I don’t think you would want to split between more than 2 people. If I only got one of them, I would have been very, very sad.
The crostini was also good, but is something that I actually could have handled a little less of—it would be a good thing to split with a larger group. It was toasted bread slices with substantial dollops of olive tapenade and the cheese scattered around. It was topped with blood orange oil and fried capers. I enjoyed several pieces, but there was something sharp, almost bitter (the blood orange oil perhaps) that made me only want to eat a few, and not lick the plate clean. I loved the fried capers though—that was a nice touch to add some crispness to all the soft toppings, as well as more saltiness.
For our main dishes, we shared the one-eyed jack ($8) and the chicken thigh confit ($16). If you read my first review of the Libertine, you know I love the one-eyed jack, which is bread cooked in fat with an egg cooked into the middle of the bread. There is roasted garlic on top (which we had to exactly evenly divvy up as well) and fig butter on the side. This was once again, executed perfectly. I only use a teeny bit of the fig butter, because I think too much of the sweetness detracts a little, but I love this dish.
The chicken thigh confit was something I have wanted to try since I saw it on the menu. It is nice pieces of dark meat chicken (no bones) served with celery root hash and a little bacon for flavor as well as a nice handful of fresh parsley on top. I liked it quite a bit, but a few of the pieces of chicken had some tough edges—the celery root hash and the divine rich dark stock in the bowl were my favorite part of the dish actually. And this is exactly why I like the Libertine so much, the dishes are thought out with several different ingredients but that work as a team. They aren’t putting a piece of chicken on your plate with a side of potatoes and some wilty veg.
I also like that even though they have changed the menu format somewhat from the opening to reflect a more traditional menu style (there are starters, small plates and large plates), you can still do what we did and mix it up and share what is basically a combination of smaller things. We did also get a dessert this time, which was their chocolate ricotta pie in a jar and was quite tasty—it was like a slightly lighter cheesecake . There was a bit of a crust on the bottom and the chocolate layer and then a creamy top layer. I liked it a lot. It wasn’t overkill on the chocolate and it wasn’t ridiculously large, but still enough to share.
It’s obvious I like this place, and will continue to look forward to future meals there.
38 East Washington Street