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B44 and after

Pancho | Sep 24, 200401:42 PM

Thursday night I took business friends to B44. For $126, including tip, the 3 of us got:

A couple of pots of hot water for tea
Two glasses of sherry (fino and amontillado)
One of tempranillo
Tapas: cod cheeks, soup, lamb brochette, tiger shrimps, grilled sardines, fresh anchovy/pear/cheese
1 b44 paella, sans squid (request)
2 decaf coffees
1 mel y mel dessert.

We ate inside from 7:15 - 9:30; while the outside tables were full, inside, there were scattered deuces around us and 1 8 top the whole evening.

The 4 cod cheeks lacked the amount of garlic that had made them and their sauce irresistible in past visits. B-

The soup was pureed asparagus with 'black' olive oil drizzle. Unmemorable. C+

The lamb brochette was 6 3/4 inch cubes with accompanying humus/pimento dips. Reheating it before serving made the meat tougher. C

The 4 grilled sardines were large, fresh and hot off the grill. Their garnish was mostly pickled cabbage... B

The fresh anchovy/pear/cheese combo came with less-ripe (crunchy) pear slices and an olive oil drizzle.

The paella came 10 minutes after ordering, making me believe that it had been pre-cooked. A crunchy rice crust indicated that it had been under the broiler a bit too long. The portion size was adequate/small. 3 whole shrimp, 8 Manila clams, chopped chicken and chorizo were the mix-ins. C

Dessert was excellent: fresh farmer's cheese with walnuts and honey and sherry on the side. Yum. A

The waiter and the busboy did not seem to be communicating, despite the relatively small crowd. One tried to clear half-full plates. The other overlooked bread/water re-stocks until asked.

The check returned without a credit card. The waiter said (quickly) that this had not happened to him in 5 years and watched while I emptied my wallet and my pockets. We all looked around the table. Ten minutes later, another waiter brought the card from another part of the restaurant without explanation or apology.

The memory of several excellent lunches (including the cod cheeks and the anchovies) sent me there. I won't return for dinner. Watch your cards.

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