For our most recent sometimes-monthly-depending-on-whether-we-have-babysitting date night, we went out with a couple friends to dinner and the orchestra. I know, we were gone for six whole hours.
The orchestra, as always, was fabulous, but as I’m not a music critic, I’ll leave the discussion of Stravinsky to others. I don’t know if I qualify as a food critic either, but I’m going to write about our meal anyway.
This time around we went to Public Square to visit Pura Vida, another restaurant with a fresh and local philosophy. Pura Vida, meaning ‘pure life,’ offers a “unique and inspired atmosphere” with dishes that “live for today,” according to Chef Brandt Evans. The atmosphere is indeed unique, with a modern feel, but not overly industrial. Lots of natural light, but also a revolving color scheme from amidst the hanging drapes on the ceiling (which is why some of the pictures have a blue tint and others are more reddish; Pura Vida, you really messed with my white balance).
The menu is a mix of cuisines, with spins on your standard home cooking-type foods but also a little Asian and North African thrown in for good measure. Plenty here to suit all tastes, and the vegan/vegetarian offerings far exceed what we normally find, both in quantity and originality.
For starters, we split some corn fritters topped with a spicy mayo and pickled onions and the African peanut stew, one of the menu stalwarts. The fritters were just the right combination of crunchy and chewy, and the stew was unique and full of peanut and curry flavor.
S and I both ordered entrees from the daily specials, so you probably won’t see them on the menu. S tried the bacon-wrapped pork medallions, resting atop polenta cakes and a black bean-hominy hash. A hint of heat, and delicious all the way around, with a little Southwestern flair.
I tried lobster and ricotta ravioli, served with a full lobster tail, spring peas and Brussels sprouts, all under a lobster-sherry cream sauce. I rarely order lobster unless we’re in Maine (which has happened all of two times), but in this case the lobster overload was worth the splurge (I know; local = fail). Plenty of chunky meat in the ravioli and the sauce, and it all tied together wonderfully.
Our stalwart companions ordered the chicken and waffle sliders and the chicken-fried cauliflower, one of the many interesting vegetarian options.
And for dessert, since we couldn’t pick just one, we tried the s’more hand pie (a lovely concoction of molten chocolate baked in a crust with homemade marshmallow on top, salted peanut caramel sauce on the side, and a bowl of marshmallow gelato) and the strawberry rhubarb crisp (crispy, and loaded with chunks of tart rhubarb, not overly sweet like a lot of strawberry rhubarb desserts; and a side of vanilla gelato). Both winners.
Pura Vida earns 5 1/2 stars out of 7. The food was all delicious (as was the presentation), service was good (a couple minor hiccups, but all quickly corrected), and prices generally range from about $18-25. We’ve been trying to make it for a while, and our first time here did not disappoint!