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SEA - PONTI'S / a change of heart

howard | Apr 27, 200602:46 PM

having had a horrible experience at my first visit to ponti's some years ago, i actively avoided it until a few days ago when a friend whose opinion i respect convinced me that one disaster doth not a death knell make and to join him in dinner there to celebrate a visit from my elderly father. arrived a bit early, seated quickly and at my choice of tables. the server was knowledgeable about the wine list and swift at informing us about alterations to the printed menu. my father was careful about not ordering too much and limited himself to a ceasar salad (one of the best i have ever had of this overworked classic) and an appetizer of three small crab thingys; an excellent spring roll, a bit of tangy salad and a cream cheesy wonton whose appeal i have never understood. i started with a calamari so good that i was dipping up the sauce with bread after enjoying the unusual preparation with watercress and picholine olives. our friend choose another ceasar salad and then went on to grilled king salmon on horseradish mash and sauteed spinach; a standard presentation but perfectly done. less standard but equally scrumptious was my perfectly poached halibut in saffron broth on a bed of fingerling potatoes and fennel that had been poached so as to flavor the broth. the dipping oil for the bread - with rather more balsamic than was needed - was standard quality olive oil rather than best extra-virgn but that is all i could find to complain about. desserts of melting chocolate cake and strawberry-rhubarb tart (both served with first-rate vanilla ice cream) only made me angry with myself for having allowed one bad day to make me miss years of such fine provender. i'll be back.....

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