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Bouillabaisse

Elaine(Snutteplutten) | Dec 11, 2004 10:00 AM

Ate there last night, and, well, I still miss Helen's. It has potential, however, and perhaps will smooth out into more than a convenient neighberhood option.

The front, where we sat, is quite cozy - the kind of place where you inevitably end up talking to your neighbors (about how much we all miss Helen's!). They've left the open kitchen, so you can watch your food being assembled which is fun, but the cooking fish smell can get a little intense. The back, which they created by enclosing the courtyard part of the garden, looked more tranquil. And they promise to serve in the garden come summer.

Entrees are 15-18, apps 6-7 (for the person who asked) and to answer my own question, it's byob at the moment, which is nice.

My meal suffered from underseasoning. I had a special appetizer, which was billed as a roasted beet salad. It turned out to be a bunch of roasted beets on lettuce without any dressing, herbs, or other seasoning. While the beets were fine, I couldn't see munching my way through a plate of plain lettuce, so I asked for some dressing. They gave me a funny look, but provided a vinagrette, which helped a lot. I had the "fish of the day", an enormous piece of poached salmon, billed as coming with a shallot and white wine sauce. There were a few overcooked shallots atop the salmon, but nary a hint of white wine sauce. Very very pedestrian. If a piece of salmon is going to be that unadorned, it had better be some line caught wild specimen with silky ruby flesh - not your run of the mill chunk of PCBs.

Also the bread was awful - a soggy nearly crustless rendition of a baguette! I don't know where they get it from, but with Mazzola's right up the street they could do much better without trying very hard.

All that said, my companion had a gorgonzola and poached pear appetizer which she said was delicious, if more like a dessert than an appetizer. The garlicky dipping oil for the bread was quite tasty. The service was friendly, enthusiastic and surprisingly accomplished for a brand new place. (Although I don't get why they make the servers wrestle with that huge chalkboard - the bulk of the menu doesn't change from day to day, and they still have to narrate the "specials" verbally. It's a bit of a gimmick, and in those cramped quarters, I'd suggest switching to printed menus.)

I'll certainly be back, since I live 50 yards away, and I hope the kitchen finds a more distinctive footing.

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