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laurie | Sep 18, 200502:14 AM     1

beats expectations. after a hellacious parking experience (nearby lot at hoff & 16th...be persistent and try again in 10 min if they tell you they are full, which we failed to do) and a 1/2 hr wait for our table, FOH guy Michael made us forget all that had transpired and settle into our experience.

Then, the food really wowed us, which nobody expected (after hearing "good but not great" reports). I admit I love salt so maybe I dug the intense flavors, but all 4 apps and all 4 entrees we tried were well received.

apps:

beet salad
iowa salad
maverick salad
crab puffs

all fantastic - we passed them around until they ran out. bread also solid

entrees:
sea bass-so often too mild to be interesting, was served atop a fricasee of late summer veggies but had a flavor very much it's own

steak frites - at about $26, the only entree > $20 and did not look all that appetizing smothered in a brown butter sauce but was cooked PEREFECTLY med rare and was amazing, with solid frites.

duck - it was duck, so good

monfish wrapped in bacon (a special) - seems to be coming a classic pairing, for good reason

desserts

cheese course (humbolt fog, a bandage wrapped american chedder, served with roasted "bronx" grapes...yum, and wheat fruit toast)

carrot cake (great)

profiteroles (didn't get to try-maybe this is a good sign)

tab; $55 per person, before tax/tip, with 1 bottle of wine (around $50)

i know this may not be the biggest bargain when compared with other choices (eg: went to citizen thai last weekend) but i have to give kudos to 2 owners, constantly on the floor, who show great passion and pride in the food, service and overall experience that they deliver to, in this case, a very appreciative 4-some. And as a punctionation to prove the point, we've got reservations for brunch tomorrow :)

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