The decor is quite nice, though it feels more like a lounge or bar than restaurant. There's a large white couch and low seating for mingling with friends. We sat in a comfortable corner booth, but the best part was the place was toasty warm on a cold night. And I have to give a thumbs up for the music playlist which included the Talking Heads, Modest Mouse, Cut Copy, and LCD Soundsystem.
The cocktail menu at Antica was solid and contained several drinks I wouldn't mind trying out. Drinks also appear to be $1-$2 cheaper than they would be at some other local cocktail bars. I ordered the Keshia's Love Notes which contained gin, hibiscus syrup, rosemary, orange and prosecco. The drink was really light and herbal with a nice blend of refreshing flavors. Steve ordered the Mexico? More like Sexy-Co (real name- no joke) that contained tequila, Compari, lemon and chile. This drink was smokey and spicy and impressed both of us. I think if I make it back I would order this drink despite the embarrassing-to-say name.
Antica is another one of those "modern take on tapas" places that seem to be popping up all over the pace. Our first small plate was their take on Poutine with french fries, mushroom gravy and ricotta. The gravy was very flavorful and it worked nicely off of the mild ricotta. This was a nice departure from the heavier, more traditional poutine.
Our second plate was deviled quail eggs. This dish was adorable but at $5 I think we should have at least gotten one more egg. The eggs were good- but were missing something flavor-wise. Perhaps a pickle or vinegar flavor would add some nice balance.
And then everything arrived all at once! I specifically asked the waiter to have the chef course our order at his/her discretion and it appeared that they just cooked everything at the same time and decided to serve most of it all together. I really wanted to get an idea of how the chef would prefer to place the flavors, and perhaps only give us one dish at a time, but this is not the place for it (Treehouse and Catbird are).
The Vietnamese catfish cakes with sweet chili sauce were fluffy little balls with a very mild fish taste. It almost reminded me of Jamaican fish cakes. The sweet chili sauce was a really enjoyable accompaniment that wasn't too hot up front, but then the heat slowly ramped-up until your mouth was singing with spice. Next up was the hot quail with white bread toast and cucumber raita. This was an awesome version of the famous Nashville hot chicken, but it was a more mild, refined flavor that worked perfectly with the gaminess of the quail. This little dish might have been my favorite thing of the whole evening.
Next up was the braised pork belly in spiced-rum molasses. This take on the dish was just too sweet and wasn't really my thing. It appeared that they braised the belly and then cut it into chunks, flash-fried it, and then poured a ton of sauce on it. Pork belly is one of my favorite foods, and this way of preparing it just wasn't for me. If you aren't into super-sweet things, you should skip it.
There was a long wait between the pork belly and our last dish, so when our waiter came over to ask if we'd like to see a dessert menu, we knew he had forgotten our final item. I had a feeling that this was going to happen because the waiter didn't write any of our six dishes down. That is a lot for anyone to remember! There is no shame in writing things down so you get it right. Thankfully the waiter was apologetic and our dish came out very quickly.
Our final choice was our only thing off the large plate menu and it was potato gnocchi with scallops and pickled tomatoes in a mushroom cream. For a large plate, this was really tiny (it was less food than both the pork belly and the quail). There were about six pieces of gnocchi and itty bitty pieces of scallop. Chopped-up, very hard to find, pieces of scallop. This is not at all what I was expecting. The overall flavor was very nice, but the dish should have been bigger and contained one or two whole scallops for the price. ($12) I would say skip this and just order something else off the small plates menu.
Overall, I enjoyed my dinner at Antica. The food is good overall but they do need to work on the value-to-price ratio of some of their dishes. The drinks are simply stand-out amazing and I will be stopping in for some more cocktails- if only I can figure out the maze that is Fifth and Main.