Thursday, December 08, 2011

It Was a Dark Knight: Dinner at the Knight Cap

Nestled between a dive bar and a strip club and across from the minor league ball park, The Knight Cap, in their own words, are purveyors of Liquids and Solids for Beefeaters. It says so. Right on their sign.

Walk in, and you are enveloped in a tiny dark cave of overstuffed vinyl booths and table top candles. The ambiance suggests a dive bar all dressed up for a big night out. Everything is clean, and in good repair, but shows no other indication of being touched since the place opened in 1969. In short: this place is a bucket load of awesome.

There are maybe a dozen tables, and a few stools at the bar. Despite its pint size, we were still greeted warmly by the maitre d', who took our coats, the bus boy, who placed the napkins upon our laps, and our young waitress, who very, very slowly told us about the innovations the bar was capable of. I thought she was fantastic, but my table compatriots were wishing for a little more speed.

Disclaimer: pictures on this post are of suspect quality due to the dark-of-night interior.

We asked for a wine list, and received a scrap book. I'm not making this up. On some pages there were wine labels with prices and notes. On others, cut out pictures of wine bottles entire. And here's where things start to get a little interesting: the scrap book is full of really fantastic wines. Stag's Leap. Cakebread. Jordan. Silver Oak. Mt. Veeder. Page after page after page. All big names, high productions, but these are not wines you expect when you walk in the door.

The food is similarly ambitious. We started with crayfish hush puppies. A little under-spiced, and a little over-dense, but engaging anyway, clearly fresh, with big chunks of crayfish, and a serious crunch. The gelatinous sauce that accompanied them had a little kick to it, but was too goopy to take seriously.

The soups that followed the hush puppies were, to me, highlight of the meal. I had a gumbo, rich and spicy and fabulous. The spice wasn't subtle exactly, a giant wallop of louisana hot, but the texture and the flavors in the gumbo were just dead on. Andouille sausage for the win.

The salads - and I use the term "salad" loosely here - were not as impressive. More accurately, this was a plate of crumbled bacon atop a small lake of dressing, alongside cucumbers. I love my dressing and my bacon as much as the next guy, but this was overkill.

The menu is classic fancy when it comes to entrees - mostly variations on lobsters and steaks. Not cheap, but not all that far off from other places in town that go for this kind of fare. Filet Mignon was a beautiful cut of meat, well prepared and completely unadorned. The texture was a little grainier than some of the silky smooth filets I've had before, but it was tender and cooked a perfect medium rare. By this point, I was too stuffed to finish the potato or the mushrooms that arrived on the side, but they made a nice visual.

I've had better steaks, and far better salads, even, on occasion, better gumbo; but this food, spiced with the historical brilliance of the experience, is among the best I've had in Lansing.

Knight Cap on Urbanspoon

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