Sangria Blanca

Cardwell's at the Plaza, 94 Plaza Frontenac, 314-997-8885

You can play "Spot the Girl with the G-String" at Cardwell's, and you'll win, because there it is, staring right at you, a lacy lavender thang creeping up out of some girl's low-rider jeans. She's sitting, and the thong's climbing (too) high. Ouch, that's gotta hurt. It'll take all your energy to resist sneaking up and giving her a wedgie. You can also play "Spot the Dude with a Closetful of Dockers," but you'll win quickly because half the gentlemen in here are wearing them. The other half are sporting Brooks Brothers slacks that make their asses vanish. Then again, no one's flaunting ass here; this is Plaza Frontenac, after all, home of the flat white butt.

There are a lot of women here, and at least one of them is very very hot, so sizzling that she looks sexy even though her eyes are glued to one of the four televisions lording over the room. Should a fancy restaurant with $25 entrées be showing Law and Orderwith episodes featuring blood, violence and child molestation? Is this a meal enhancer? We've got an opinion on this: probably not. But hey, Cardwell's on the Plaza has an opposing view, and the place is packed on a Tuesday night, so who the hell are we?

We are the table who ordered the sangria blanca. We are the table who got the paper sandwich (true story -- the vegetable sandwich arrived with a sheet of paper nestled amid the fixings). We are the table who ordered the phenomenal Brie, roasted hazelnut and fruit appetizer, and nearly licked the plate clean. We are the table who examined the menu and were overwhelmed by the incredible choices, who were impressed by the chef's consideration for vegans and vegetarians.

The sangria blanca: Spanish white Rioja, fresh citrus juices, brandy and Triple Sec, served over ice with orange, lemon and lime wedgies, served in a carafe. It's one of a few specialty drinks Cardwell's offers -- the restaurant's expertise is wine, and it has an award-winning list. If you're in the mood for something light, something perfect for a humid evening, something that, at $8.50, is a good deal because you get about three glasses of it, we recommend the sangria blanca.

You can chug sangria, which makes it dangerous. Something about it, actually, encourages hearty swigs. Maybe it is its resemblance to lemonade, or the way the fruit mingles with the wine. Maybe it's the plasticized moms and their fresh-faced daughters who make us want to drink fast and hard. Or perhaps it's the joyous atmosphere of Cardwell's at the Plaza, which bubbles with celebration. Or the wood oven, or the horseshoe-shape bar, around which sit gossiping women who occasionally erupt in chirpy giggles. But there's something about the sangria -- and Cardwell's at the Plaza -- that kept us in a good mood throughout.

 
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