Square One (closed)
There are more restaurants on this foodie block of Cota Street than all the other businesses combined; I haven’t even been to them all. But I’ve been going to Square One since it opened for dinner service several years ago. When I first started attending First Thursdays downtown, this was my last stop of the night, where I’d sit at the bar and have a dessert. The desserts averaged about $8, and I’ve told by others that this was the most affordable work of art available on First Thursday. Chocolate espresso pot de crème, market strawberry shortcake with fresh mint, doughnuts with espresso crème anglaise – there are usually four or five seasonal desserts available at any given time. Eventually a friend would join, then two, sometimes groups, but I most often go with just one guest and we can sit at the bar. I stopped in last week with Jonah for a snack and dessert.
Shishito peppers have been popular in Japan for years, but I only got into them last year when my mother grew them in her vegetable garden, and the crop was so abundant she shared with me and any acquaintance who would accept a bag of the little peppers. This year, I’m seeing them at the Saturday farmers market. Traditionally, they can be prepared in a wok or on a grill until the skin scorches lightly, and served with a little salt or a dash or soy sauce and eaten like finger food. At Square One, these peppers are coming from a local biodynamic farm, and they’ve been beer battered and fried, served with aioli. I’ve seen them twice on the menu at Square One recently, and ordered them both times, $6. These aren’t spicy, but I have had a few zippy ones from my mother’s garden.
Oysters on the half shell were a special that night, not on the printed menu. We only had one each, served on a bed of ice, with microcress and a slice of lemon. I called them creamy; my friend said it melted in his mouth. They were $2.50 each.
Then it’s time for dessert! That’s actually why we wanted to be there. They had homemade bacon ice cream. The time I was there earlier, they had a selection of sorbets and ice cream, three scoops for $8. They can mix and match sorbets with sorbets and ice cream with ice cream, but they can’t mix the sorbets with ice cream, so at the time I got the sorbets (which were amazing) and now I was back for the ice cream.
I got a scoop of strawberry, of mint chocolate chip, and a scoop of the bacon ice cream. It might not come as a surprise that this combination did not go very well together, but I wanted to try all of them. Now that I have, I’ll be more selective next time. I most enjoyed the bacon ice cream for its interestingness, and the mint chocolate chip for simply being good. The mint was also fresh mint, which was a refreshing change to mint extract that I’ve had in other mint chocolate chip ice creams.