Che Figata Italian Bistro – June 2019 - #199 (dt)
7.21 – 7.5, 7.4, 7.25, 7.25, 7.25, 7, 7, 7

A discreet deception on the Karneses’ part (meeting at their house at 6 pm, us anticipating an hour drive), found us, after only a half-hour drive, at Reed Street, Coxsackie—a part of the world that most of us rarely venture to despite its proximity.

Che Figata, as one might suspect, has a menu steeped in Italian flavors, rounding out with a few cosmopolitan choices and some burgers to throw in. Our choices for the evening:

All were deemed very good to excellent, with perhaps one quibble. Three take-home boxes were needed. Broccoli was the vegetable of the evening.

Complementing the entrées was a Caesar salad which we all enjoyed. Almost as obvious was plateware—a distinctive 6” x 3” white rectangular. Also distinctive was the garlic that some claimed to taste for a day or two.

The Notars ordered the aranci (arancini?) plate—three inch-and-a-half balls, one of spinach and mozzarella, one of Corro ham, and the third with mozzarella and peas, accompanied by a small gravy boat of marinara—and shared with the table. An excellent starter.

The wine menu was mostly Italian, with appropriately Italian choices, and we quaffed two bottles of a Barbera d’Asti Superiore that the five red wine drinkers enjoyed. And a good value, besides. Two diet sodas completed the order.

Two metal baskets of crusty Italian bread, wrapped in linen, arrived in the comfortable 5-10 minute range. These were accompanied by two small ramekins of softened butter and a small plate holding the olive oil bottle, the latter appreciatively noted a couple times. And a small plate of mixed olives completed the early nibbles.

Dessert would eventually beckon. A printed short list of a half-dozen awaited. (‘Tis interesting how many restaurants have a narrated-only list; this writer prefers a written list to ponder.) Selected:

All were deemed a fitting end to the dining excursion.

Service by Courtney was excellent for the evening. However, the first three minutes of our standing at the podium waiting for someone, anyone, to acknowledge us was an act of faith on our part that we would be attended to.
Courtney had a good sense of timing for the small details, was attentive to our requests, checked back appropriately without being cloying, answered all our questions smoothly and knowledgeably, and shared a modest sense of humor that served our evening well. We learned that she recognized a few of us, have graduated from C-D in 2012, although none of us could place her. Retiree brains?
Water glasses were set out, with two carafes of water supplied, refilled when emptied. Ken’s coffee was poured and re-poured in good stead. Take-home boxes were requested by three of us, and boxes were given to us to fill. (So…. which do you like better—self-boxed, or server-boxed?)

Ambience was enjoyable. A 50 x 30 open space greeted the visitor, with the 25 foot bar on the back left side. Two large plate glass windows allowed seating by the window and our group of eight took up one of those spots – nice view, although the 7 pm late-June sun had Chay leaning with the eye-protecting shadow from the door frame.
            Otherwise, twenty tables and booths of fours awaited filling. Past experience has shown a full house means ear-filling noise. This evening found only us, one table, and a bar of five as we started; several other tables were full as we left. Noise levels were low, allowing a group discussion if we so chose.
            The pleasantness seemed to have captured my brain because any sharp recall of other details eluded this account.

The evening’s tab for the evening came to $94 per couple. And off we drove into the last minutes of the early summer dusk—a rare event for our time schedule. We had passed about two hours in Coxsackie.

Topics for the evening—in the car and at the table—covered our usual range: meanness, a possible need for a rule about meanness at the DP8 table, recognizing long-time teaching colleague Bob Piano and his distinctive voice at the bar, guessing where the Karneses’ car would turn, talk of Damon Baehrel and a $400 tasting menu at his restaurant, the Notars’ Father’s Day tasting menu at Deer Mountain Inn costing $300+, the right taillight directional feint from the front car in West Coxsackie, Ken offering a couple times to share in sharing food (not!), everyone home for now, questions about the new relationship in the Teator family, the Notar house-flipping progress, the Karnes end of year party (taking several moments to review and savor), changeable summer weather, the doings of our children, the Monteverd grandchildren, boating, hints of winter plans, the Teator Philly trip coming up soon, the DP8 calendar for the summer, DP8 #200 next month and how to celebrate, not a single day in July in common to handle a midday brunch celebration, the scenic view of the Hudson River from the Coxsackie park, sightings of fawns, and other topics that did not have enough Velcro to stick.