Was headed to Emma's for a pre-cinema snack, but it was closed. Not open till 10pm every night anymore, or just a holiday break? We didn't get close enough to investigate, just headed quickly to get out of the cold to the Blue Room. Surprisingly half-empty -- seems everyone was saving their mojo for the Eve -- and we got bar seats, followed by very well-made cocktails, a long tradition here I'm glad to see being upheld.
Excellent crusty, chewy bread with good rosemary-flecked oil to start. We ordered a bunch of small plates, all quite lovely: a lamb kebab with beautiful wood-grilled flavor, minty yogurt sauce, and a perfect phyllo-flaky tart of carmelized onions. A tagine-like (in seasoning), thin slab of swordfish with a savory tomato sauce. A pastry tart with roast winter squash and feta, simple and light and delicious. A good if not extraordinary roasted pear and endive salad. An antipasto with grilled eggplant, brussel sprouts, and rabe, some pickled artichokes, capers, and onions, a giant piece of papad-like cracker bread, and a few slices of excellent salumi.
We passed plates constantly, added a couple of glasses of wine. A great little feast for about $35/head inclusive, made better by friendly service and the element of surprise (getting immediate seating on a freezing night when the restaurant is usually packed). We hadn't planned to, but we were all really glad we got back here.