last night, we visited sqwires for the first time (thank you, restaurant.com!). some backstory: pretty much whenever we see hummus on an online menu, we consider the restaurant worthy of a visit. we are nothing if not fiends for hummus. well, when a restaurant touts a menu consisting of veg-friendly items like hummus and vegetable lasagna, it moves to the top of the list of places to visit.
nestled in the heart of lafayette square, this converted warehouse is just a block from the park. inside, the layout is cozy and modern, intermingling old butcher blocks, quirky light fixtures, exposed wood ceilings, and (what appear to be) recycled particle board tables. being an old warehouse, you may not expect it to be that 'cozy' but the mood lighting, long benches ornamented by a few pillows, and seasonal dressings really gave the place a warm and comfortable feel. there's a collection of vintage radios, too, which serves as the backdrop to a small stage for local bands. all things considered, it's really a delight for the senses.
the waitstaff was attentive and unobtrusive (a quality we're quite fond of). food came out in reasonable intervals, water was refilled regularly, and dishes and silverware were cleared after each course. one woman who tended to our table we thought could be an owner, judging by her dress, manner, and how casually she moved between all areas of the restaurant. something definitely told us that she felt some ownership about the place, which was nice to see-- we like seeing owners pitching in, especially if they look happy doing so.
our order was carried out without error, and there were plenty of genuine smiles from all who stopped by the table. questions about vegetarian issues ("is there chicken stock in the butternut squash soup?") were handled without reluctance, and it felt like the staff were committed to making vegetarians feel welcome.
we started off the night with a trio of spreads, which included black bean hummus, spinach and artichoke, and eggplant caponata (which contains no fish, according to the waiter). all three spreads were competent and made us optimistic about the rest of the meal. the only thing we would have liked to see is maybe an alternative to pita. we are a little pita-ed out, but at least these were served warm and toasted. our second course was the broiled goat cheese with ozark forest wild mushrooms. no doubt, the dish was delicious, but it was exceedingly rich because of the cream sauce (an unnecessary addition, considering the goat cheese was already strong enough). nevertheless, the mushrooms were insanely good, and we had a helluva fun time eating it. it's just not something we would consider ordering again for at least the next decade-- our consciences couldn't handle that much decadence. to conclude the savory portion of our meal (yes, there's dessert a-comin), we moved onto the vegetable lasagna, which is noteworthy because of its construction if not its flavor. instead of pasta, the dish is composed of vegetable "noodles"--a touch that noticeably reduces the heaviness normally associated with lasagna. beyond this noticeably progressive nose-thumbing at italian traditions, the dish was overpowered by a goat cheese-marinara concoction that wins points for tasting homemade but not for tasting good. to be fair, the dish is not necessarily bad; it just needs some improvement. to wrap up the evening, we decided to splurge and have the pumpkin bread pudding. we're both big fans of bread pudding, and lois gets particularly giddy about all things "pumpkin." simply put: this was top-of-the-line bread pudding. soft (i'm not allowed to use "moist." ever.) when it needed to be, crunchy in all the right places, just the right amount of burn on the bottom, the bread component was perfection. the simple vanilla ice cream blended beautifully with the caramel sauce, too. the only thing we would have changed was to make it more pumpkiny since that flavor was conspicuously absent, but it was easily good enough to justify the inevitable guilt that we both experienced the rest of the night.