My housemate and I decided to give this place a try this past Friday, as it was her birthday, and, it being a day of the week, we knew we were to be hungry.
Having heard conflicting reports (including, even, that very night from a couple at the Grafton for a post-dinner drink who complained of the poorness of their steak frites and roasted chicken), we were a bit reticent, but the night proved enjoyable. The decor is as I like a bistro, rustic and woody and cramped, though I could have done without the group of Lincoln Parkers milling around the coat rack awaiting the remainder of their party remarking with gusto on all the dishes that passed their nose, and the service was great, though I could have done without the incessant water service (I think I can stand to tilt my head back a single degree in order to drink from a glass a millilitre from overflowing). the food. indeed, the food proved good. a glass into our cotes-du-rhone (28 dollars, and a bottle to which the server actually steered us), we were served two buttery discs of foie gras, cum a quince compote of sorts that complemented the richness perfectly, i thought. so, too, did my housemate. mussels next--typical belgian ale steamed, and the flavor of the mussels was not in any way inhibited by garlic or things of this nature, which i think is great, though i do enjoy the noticeably more intensely flavored mussels at Hopleaf quite a bit, perhaps more. My housemate's salmon was served as the long center-cut strip of which I am fond, with a lumpish mass of "carmelized eggplant," which, to my taste, was reminiscent of suckling the teat of a cough drop goat, or, not good. orange infused yogurt was a pleasing complement to the fish. my rabbit was served with a darkly roasted bone-in leg and thigh, or whatever part of the rabbit you are usually served with its bones, with a succulent white sliver of what i presumed to be loin bisecting the top. cabernet reduction and wilted spinach. it was very good, though, it seems to me, everytime i enjoy rabbit it is agressively seasoned, too much nearly. (does anyone know if the composition of this particular meat lends itself to rapid or increased absorption of salt?). also, as in most cases in which i have eaten rabbit, it was paired with a smoked pork product--bacon in this case--which was a great component to the flavor of the dish but may have added some unnecessary extra salt to the dish.
so, good experience all around--our waiter, whose name i was never offered, and of which i was never quite motivated to ask--was exceptional. so, ask for that waiter, the one whose name you will not know. he was a mite short, a little heavy, and spiky-haired. we skipped dessert, had some palatable espresso, and decided it was in our best interest if we left the premesis when we heard a gussied-up soccer mom ask what the mushroom ragout was, pronouncing it, indeed, as it is spelled, as in "would you wring that rag out?" then we booked it to the Mutiny for Chicago's legendary The Junk, and indeed their swan dive of a show proved that a box set will be coming out none to soon. but god bless their souls for making my ears bleed whilst i filled my already pleasantly French-full stomach with loads upon loads of Old Style.
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