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Black Cat Bakery: Dinner Gets a Night Life at the Neighborhood Café

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It was pretty much love at first bite--but at breakfast time--at the Black Cat Bakery on Fairfax, thanks to their savory and crave-worthy Bibimbap-Style Farro. With a menu of satisfying morning and midday eats, as well as tantalizing pastries, the restaurant has recently expanded their hours, and offerings, with the addition of dinner service and its selection of old school favorites re-tuned for contemporary palates.

Chef Nicholas Coe says that his menu reflects a number of dishes that may have been all the rage at one time that he delights in giving a new spin and chance to be enjoyed. "Some of the thing I like are things that were once fashionable," he says of dishes like Burgundy Beef, which is an updated bœuf bourguignon. Global influences infiltrate the dinner dishes, like the Lamb prepared Uzbek-style with mint yogurt, jeweled saffron rice with pistachios, and favas, or the Thai shrimp salad emboldened with spice tempered by cool tropical fruits like mango and papaya and creamy avocado.

Coe gives a nod to the cuisine of Eastern Europe with his Boyar's borscht, which is not the hot pink bowl a diner might expect, but rather a celebration of colorful root veggies swimming in a beef consommé, topped with sour cream and the vital and inviting aromatics of dill and parsley. Even Julia Child gets a shout-out; Coe is using her recipe for the chicken liver mousse he pairs with a golden raisin and red onion relish and the fresh bread he sources from local artisanal baker Bread Lounge.

"Basic dishes have so much integrity," explains Coe. Though some of the dishes, particularly those revered in the classic French canon, are labor-intensive as initially conceived, at Black Cat Bakery, those basics are made with contemporary preparations and ingredients. That Burgundy Beef, for example, is New York Steak cooked with lardons and set on a sop-up-able sauce paired with braised and roasted veggies.

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Diners who make their way to Black Cat for dinner, which is served Wednesday-Sunday, can hopefully take advantage of the "neighborhood spot" feel the restaurant is creating. As a bonus, pastries are always half-off after 4 p.m., so if you don't save room for the desserts on the dinner menu, like the Apple caramel pie or the Coconut Black Rice Pudding with mango, you might want to grab a muffin or cookie to go with your morning coffee.