Dax' suggestion to a Theater District-bound poster to check out Dedo jogged me to revisit: I've also thought it a hidden gem food-wise, but rather sorry-looking for a hip new place. I'm happy to report that management seems to be working on updating the room.
The bar has much better lighting now, including some funky, cool table and hanging lamps. In the dining room, they've ditched the ugly service station near the fire exit, added a curtain at the kitchen entrance, maybe upgraded the shades on the hideous wall fixtures, but best of all, hung cool oil paintings all around (presumably by a local artist, shades of On the Park). Overall, the effect is much, much nicer, more worthy of the food.
Speaking of food, they start us with a new-to-us spread with bread (white bean, fig, and fennel): odd but delicious. Perfectly-dressed little green salad with excellent Gorgonzola on one side of the table. Dense and creamy duck liver pate' on the other, rich and heady, great to adorn with the accompanying stewed figs, squiggle of Dijon, and dollop of dressed baby greens. But I don't like toasted bread with my pate'; this seems like an odd American trope to me. I beg for something untoasted, and they have to scrounge, but come up with some sliced-up fresh foccacia brushed with olive oil that probably goes with the bar-menu burger. Much better!
Entrees consist of a terrific, slightly smokey tasting pork, seemingly slow-cooked and falling apart, on soft polenta. The Artic char is likewise wonderful, reminding me of what wild salmon really tastes like: no bland, mushy farm flavor. The puy lentils and chunks of beet are a fitting underpinning.
We have room for little more than a small plate of superb homemade chocolates for dessert: the two caramels are our favorites (are they slightly salty?), one milk and one dark.
Add a coffee, an LBV port, and a $30 bottle of Cali pinot noir, and the check with tax is an even $100: a steal. Attentive, friendly service, though a nudge is required to keep the waiter from filling wine glasses to the brim.
This place keeps getting better. Word of mouth seems to be drawing in many more diners at primetime on a Friday night than our last few visits. Here's hoping this place sticks: it's a perfect mid-priced Chowhound venue.