Last week my eating club went to Token's on Hampton at Arsenal. I have been passing by this place for years, curious about it, and finally we took the plunge. Tokens has a real eclectic feel. The lighting is dim/romantic and there are unusual trinkets and destination art strung throughout. The effect is cosy. The menu was presented, and was reassuringly short. Service throughout was very personal and it was obvious that the server took real pride in the food and her work. Children would probably be welcomed here, but I wouldn't advise it. It might ruin the mood for some nice couple. The only negative nonfood note is that although I did not smell cigarettes while I was at the restaurant, I did smell them quite horribly on my clothing after leaving. The wine list is nonexistent, but the martinis were nicely made and an average house wine is available.
Bread was standard Hill Italian. Herbed butter was a welcome distraction. The lobster bisque as an appetizer was a real knockout. It was flavorful, intensely creamy and had appropriate small pieces of shellfish at the bottom. Salads were decently-sized and overly dressed, but had a nice (pre-bagged) mix of lettuces. The poppy seed dressing was great, the Caesar was probably a doctored bottle variety with plasticky parmesan.
Main courses were a mixed bag. I was told that my scallops would be sauteed in butter, but they appeared to have been sauteed and drowned, nay, asphixiated with two sauces, one of which was a red pepper sauce, which I utterly despise. The scallops themselves did not seem to be at the peak of freshness. Served alongside was a "medley" of vegetables -- zucchini, carrots, purple cabbage and roasted potatoes. On a much better note, the chicken Florentine was fabulous! The chicken breast had crispy grill marks, but was not overdone. The innards were a luscious mix of creamy yellow cheese and freshly cooked spinach. Steak filet was also gorgeous -- a big hunk of meat with wild mushrooms perfectly cooked. It was, ahem, "fraught with flavor" to quote the eater. The reduction sauce was also excellent. Both the steak and the chicken also came with the aforementioned "medley."
Prices are high at Tokens. The steak, for example, was $22.00, although it did include salad and said medley. If I went back, I would probably bring my own wine and order one of the couscous dishes. This place was good and now I know where to go for Chicken Florentine, but not necessarily a destination restaurant. Oh, and for the nit-picky, the bathrooms were clean but decorated in a hideous manner.
On other fronts, I tried two new places this week. Atlas Cafe, the old Sunflour place in Debaliver, was tiny and a little precious. It has a very small menu, so if you go there, be sure to check out the menu outside and see if anything tickles you. The chicken wrapped in Savoy cabbage and stuffed was exquisite.
Also, Artie's cheesecake place is finally open in the Central West End, near Maryland and Euclid. Cheesecakes are heavenly and I am truly looking forward to trying some of their lunchy items, like chicken salad with pecans and Michigan cherries. This is a welcome alternative to the standard eateries in the CWE and possibly could be the next post-dinner place to go eat your dessert. Ah, how I pine for Cyrano's.
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