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Restaurants & Bars 4

Lunch at Cicada (longish)

David Kahn | Apr 13, 200201:07 AM

I had lunch today at Cicada, and the place left me with the same impression I've had every other time I've eaten there. The food was good enough, but just that -- not sparkling or inspired or wonderful -- just good.

First of all, let me say that the space this restaurant occupies is extraordinary! The amazing art deco architecture, the gold leaf ceiling, carved wood, and the big, open room are fabulous. (Also, as an amateur blacksmith I have to say, the original, hand-wrought deco iron work found at this restaurant is some of the nicest I've seen in this city).

I love a good Caesar salad, so I started with one of those. It was nice but not particularly memorable. My friends had vegetable soup, spinach soup, and an arugula salad with hearts of palm which looked to be the best starter of the group. Of course, there was the obligatory basket of mixed breads on the table, all of which were fresh and tasty enough, but again, nothing I won't have forgotten by Monday. (For some reason it reminded me of, and made me miss, those delicious warm cheese toasts they used to serve at the long-gone Scandia on Sunset.)

As an entrée, on the strength of the waiter's recommendation, I had the seafood grill, which consisted of one whole giant prawn, a tiny piece of swordfish steak, and a slightly bigger (but still small) piece of salmon fillet, served with sautéed spinach and mashed potatoes. Although the prices at the two places are about comparable, it was definitely not the Water Grill (where just about every meal I have ever had has been stunningly good). As I said, good enough, but not even in the neighborhood of great. The best meal of our group looked to be the oso bucco ordered by one of our party -- I didn't get to taste, but was assured it was delicious.

We had a Sweet Lady Jane's cake back at the office, so nobody wanted to order dessert. Given my tepid reaction to everything else I sampled, maybe it's just as well.

All in all, in spite of the fabulous setting, I came away slightly disappointed, just like every other time I've eaten there. (In fairness, I've only ever gone there for lunch -- maybe the kitchen's A-team is reserved for dinner.) I'd be interested in hearing other hounds' thoughts about this restaurant -- am I missing something, or is this place a great location in search of a chef to match?

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