I have eaten several lackluster (to put it charitably) meals at Palladin (why I keep going back is a long story but...) and was not particularly looking forward to my lunch there this week. I even warned one of my dining companions not to expect much.
Much to my surprise, my first course - a rich coco bean soup with tangy chewy bits of duck prosciutto and an ethereal chicken quenelle floating in the middle - was OUT OF THIS WORLD. A friend was similarly blown away by the roasted corn soup.
For my main course I'd ordered the ahi tuna burger (on the they can't f**k this up theory). To my delight, the burger was perfectly done, and lightly bathed in an herby and mushroomy glaze and accompanied by crisp frites to scoop up the extra glaze with.
I was wondering aloud what had happened here - and scarfing down every bite of my winter fruit tart in a buttery crust with a delicate caramel sauce and just the right amount of whipped cream - when one of my dining companions started shouting "that's him, that's him, that's Palladin" as a tall european looking guy came out of the kitchen. (My friend then did a big groupie routine, but Palladin was very gracious).
The best part - besides the blissful unexpected surprise of having a great lunch - is that the three-course prix fixe lunch is only $20-something dollars. This restaurant has deservedly been slammed, but if you can manage to get the staff to divulge the dates maestro's presence (I don't know if you can), it can be an fabulous working lunch or pre-theater treat.