Oh what a night. I was happy to be going to Campo. You see, it is right next door to Jonathan’s and the entry to the parking lot has two really nice sculptures. They look really great in the street light!
Campo is located in an old house on Beckley. The décor is modern handcrafted, if that is even a style, but more a way of life to me. The beautiful original wood floors were refinished. The bar stools are made out of scrap wood. The bar looks like reclaimed barn wood turned on edge to give serious dimension. Dishes are all white, but miss matched along with the glasses and silverware. Lights over the bar are large red lightly woven baskets.
Our plans tonight were to grab an early dinner, since I had an early lunch, and then check out the lights downtown. We are the first patrons to arrive at Campo. I hate being the first person anywhere! Ok, now get over it, it was my choice. But it is ok, and now the place is starting to fill up!
Service and Atmosphere
Our waiter for the evening is Hunter. Hunter has a great personality…and so does the bartender. Sorry, I didn’t catch his name. Just let me say now, what a handsome staff they have. And not I am not talking about just being good looking, their personalities are handsome, too. The energy and vibe they have was really pleasant and made Campo feel very warm and comfortable.
Hunter takes a moment to explain the “Drink” side of the menu, pointing out the Campo Cocktails. Now I am not a cocktail kinda gal, but my goal tonight was to be adventuresome. So I order the Campo Pisco (11.00). This is a treat for a cocktail; it is made of Pisco (a 60-100 proof brandy, made by distilling fermented grape juice.), Rum, Lime, egg white, guava, and Jamaican Jerk Bitters. Now the Jamaican Jerk Bitters alone with the lime and egg white is why I ordered it. It did not disappoint. A little sweet, very light with the egg white and just a hint of tang with the lime. It was so good when I finished, I saved just one sip to finish after my meal. Terry ordered the “Bear in the Woods” because it sounded different. While I am sure that cocktail fans who like bourbon might really like this, I don’t. I like my bourbon neat, don’t mess with it! If you are more of a beer or wine drinker, like we usually are, don’t worry. They offer a variety of carefully selected micro-brews and a boutique selection of red & white wines.
The menu is sort of French Country meets US comfort food.
We ordered the Chorizo Fritters with an oregano aioli as a starter. These fritters are crispy on the outside, warm and moist on the inside, with just the right balance of Chorizo. They taste so good no aioli is needed. But should you choose to use a little, it has great flavor.
Now remember I said I wanted an adventure. What I didn’t expect was to get one here, but Chef McCallister gave me one. The main course was an adventure, filled with some serious creativity, and I haven’t even gotten to desert yet! This menu is so creative, I want to try everything, NOW, not when I come back next time (at least that was what I hoped). Poor Hunter wanted so bad to help me pick something, but the man is scary…his choices were my choices (OK, maybe we both have good tastes). I even looked around for a dart board, thinking I could just put the menu up there and throw a dart. Now, Terry is in the same boat and can’t decide what he wants either. He eliminates pasta so that takes it down to 6 items. I know he is not going to order the Charred Octopus, that leaves 5, he is not in the mood for fish, so that takes it down to3, my guess is either the Pork or the Meat & Potatoes. He is still waiting for me to decide, so he can decide. I finally pick the Barnstable Oyster Pasta and he chooses the Meat & Potatoes. I have to admit, I am getting a little giddy in anticipation of my Oysters. OMG! Look at this! The sad thing is that you cannot smell it. If you could, you just might melt from the smell alone.
It has a smokey lime aroma coming off of it. The broth is full, but not thick. Honey, I hit the mother lode! The Oysters are perfect and so fresh! Pasta is fresh and the broth is lightly coating it, so the fresh pasta flavor comes through. It has a hint of pancetta, which is subtle but adds more depth. OOOH Baby! I am in heaven, OK Chef, you are not being my friend, I am trying to concentrate on the food, and my mind keeps wandering off to pure enjoyment. You are messing with my pay check here! FOCUS, FOCUS, try Terry’s Meat and Potatoes.
Terry’s thought on his dish is that “This is what Knights might have eaten at the Kings table. But I think it is better.” Rich bold sauce. Tender braised spare rib (sans rib, something no self-respecting knight would appreciate, so he had to use a fork instead of hefting it by the rib bone) surrounded by potato gnosh, crunchy baby carrots, delicate snap peas and garnished with a picked onion skin that add a dash of rich, ruby red color. As much a treat for the eye as the palate, the first bite melts in your mouth and the pleasure lingers, inviting you to take your time and savor every bite.
“Dessert Menu?” Yes, please. Gosh after, that I am not sure I need desert but you have to at least look at it. Tonight they have, Deluce De Leche Panna Cotta, Quince with candied Chestnuts, Persimmon Hazelnut Tart, and a Cheese Board. It takes me all of two seconds to choose the Persimmon Hazelnut Tart with BROWN BUTTER & Vanilla Ice Cream. And a pot of French Press Coffee of course. Persimmons, how often do you see persimmons on the menu? Persimmons bring back childhood memories of going out and finding trees along the fence line. Mom would pull the truck up next to it so I could stand in the bed of the truck and help pick persimmons. Brown butter on this tart just sealed the deal. Brown butter is one of my favorite flavors. I can eat just fresh pasta with brown butter and be VERY happy. Now the tart arrives.
I am looking all over, where is the brown butter???? What is this light and fluffy white stuff? OMG,OMG,OMG! It is brown butter!!!! Brown Butter, how can that be, it is fluffy like sifted powdered sugar but lighter. Stop … concentrate on the tart. Dang it chef, you are messing with me! Tart has a lovely crust, lightly sweetened, not soggy. Mmm, does it have some hazelnuts in it? Then they layer sliced persimmons with a light glaze, topped with vanilla ice cream AND powdered Brown Butter! I just want to politely get up and take the whole plate and find a nice corner where I can enjoy it all to myself. I don’t want to share, I WANT IT ALL! Ok, I have to ask Hunter, How did they make powdered butter? Hunter looks me straight in the eyes, “I have no clue”. Are they trying to hide something?? SO, I ask one of the owners, Miguel, if he knows. No, but I can ask chef. Another waiter comes and he knows,” they put it in tapioca and put it in a blender”. OK, I imagine they got quite a laugh at my puzzled face. I am trying to figure this one out. I use tapioca to thicken things, not make fat light and fluffy. Can this be right? As we are having a cup of coffee (which is very good by the way), Chef McCallister stops by the table and explains that it is not the tapioca that I use, it is Tapioca maltodectrin. You mix it with any fat and it turns light and fluffy. Oh, and Chef is looking very stylish tonight in a T-Shirt from my favorite dairy, Layla Farms in Plano.
Chef McCallister, have you met Miss Katherine of Dude Sweet? You guys think alike, that is, if ‘out of the box’ is alike! I wonder what kind of magic you two could create in a kitchen together.