After working hard the past few days at opening the coffee shop, during which my nerves have been tested, we decided to go out for dinner last night to unwind. Well, that and we didn't have any food in the house. We didn't want Chinese or Asian and were thinking of pizza, but we can make pretty good pizza at home. We have a pretty solid rule of eating out at places whose food we can not replicate at home because what's the point if you can do it better.
We chose La Villa, a French restaurant, with a good wine list, bar, and pricey but excellent food. This meal was maybe my first in China that in no way tasted Chinese. You would know what I mean if you lived here for awhile. Even the cheeseburgers and pizza that are served in western restaurants usually taste vaguely Chinese. Not at La Villa though. The food we were served would pass as decent French food in any city. We started with cocktails (buy one, get one free)--Turner having a martini (obviously with olives) and me with a White Russian. So far so good, except we forgot the camera so my words will have to suffice.
On to the food, for an appetizer Turner ordered a Caesar salad and I had French Onion soup (which could have been the death blow right there). Both were very good! The salad had anchovies and real bacon bits (not from a can) and my soup tasted fairly authentic, if lacking in pepper. We decided to split a main course, saving our stomachs and wallet for dessert. There were many choices, ranging from goose livers and snails to salmon and lamb chops (there was even a pasta section for those suspicious of French food). We ordered a goose leg confit with mushrooms and peppers and parsley sauce. The presentation was great, the taste was comforting, and the potatoes garlicky. Mmm, mmm, good.
After another round of cocktails, we had to order dessert and choose a blueberry cheesecake from a range of choices like a Normandy apple tart or chocolate cake. Our cheesecake looked beautiful but lacked some flavor. It also had a strange fruit roll-up like top, tasted like fruit snacks. Overall, the dessert was good, but not the best part of the evening.
Even the inside of this restaurant took you out of a China for a few hours. It is housed in a stand-alone house (a rarity in a Chinese city) from the German colonization back in the early 1900s, so it has old doors and windows. The decor is eclectic but not over-the-top, with seating options from large dinner tables to overstuffed couches and coffee tables. A downfall of choosing the couches is that it is very difficult to leave after having a satisfying meal and a couple drinks.Service was perfect (both our appetizers actually came out at the same time!!) and attentive. Also, the waiter spoke English and understood the cuisine he was serving and the atmosphere the restaurant was trying to preserve.
All in all, the best foreign restaurant I have eaten at in Qingdao.
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