Last minute reservation, made on Thursday for Saturday, 5:30 p.m. seating. The place is nondescript, in a small office complex, with only dark blue draperies to separate the kitchen from the dining room.
Very interesting menu. Wait staff knowledgeable, friendly, enthusiastic, attentive. Quick to make recommendations. Mediocre supermarket French bread set a sort of lackadaisical tone...I think it's important to take care with bread.
We started with fried calamari and grilled tandoori lamb. The waiter advised that the calamari were a favorite, and in fact they were among the best I've ever had, very lightly drizzled in a creamy wasabi dressing, over a bed of shredded savoy cabbage and carrots that was sort of a slaw but almost devoid of dressing. Wish there had been a bit more flavor in the slaw.
The lamb was grilled rare, flavorful, accompanied by an extremely tart salad of eggplant with pine nuts and raisins, over a pool of an odd curry sauce that may have been stirred up from a shaker of commercial curry powder blend.
Entrees were skate and cioppino. I'm not a huge skate fan, the slightly gelatinous texture of this dish puts me off, but my companion assures me that it was excellent. The fish was pan-fried, dusted with chili powder and lime, with a very mild jicama and orange slaw on the side.
Cioppino was unremarkable. A very mild tomato water with little of garlic or other herbs bathed a chunk of salmon, maybe some tuna, a few baby shrimp, four or five cherrystone clams, and two scallops.
Nice dessert list, slightly unusual. My companion went for the sour cream apple pie, in my mind one of those old Philadelphia Restaurant Renaissance desserts. This edition proved exceptional...sweet and tart, creamy, light, with a crisp cookie crust.
By 7:30 the place was packed. Bottom line? Slightly uneven execution of a very ambitious menu, pretty good value for the money, nice service, not much ambience. Alison was there and cooking, and she was gracious in visiting all the tables.