Steak isn’t surprising, it’s just a good example of its ilk: a chewy cut, flatiron, with plenty of beefy taste. On the side, celery root puree is rich and a great match for the beef, and the roast potatoes one night have a perfect crust created by the chef’s finishing them in a cast iron pan over a high flame, then in the oven. The handful of green beans on the plate mean you actually get to eat your vegetables here, a concept that seems an afterthought in some kitchens, even those restaurants charging in the $20 to $35 range, where it seems like a square meal is due. Roast chicken is juicy and coated in five spice powder (this half-bird could feed two), and though star anise dominates the juices that pool and run into the garlicky mashed potatoes, it’s great with the poultry and with the potatoes.
Two fish entrees are lighter and more inventive. Delicate fried fluke, dusted with semolina, salt, and pepper, is flaky and tasty for the first several bites. Wait more than a few minutes, though, and the hot plate it appears on continues to cook the fish, leaving it dry. This entree, too, comes with plentiful sides, a bit of carrot puree, and a pile of grill-finished asparagus. Salmon, glazed with sweet hoisin, comes with mushroom risotto that still has bite, to go with its creamy, black tea-tinged sauce. This dish, like the bolognese, is a winner.
But alas, at dessert, the hits stopped coming. After such a great meal, I am looking forward to working my way through the sweet side of things, a handful of pies. (There’s also a creative, rotating selection of ice cream and sorbet: beet, which tastes like it sounds (a bit weird) maple-thyme, which was out the night I ask for it, and lobster-chocolate, that we all agree seems like a stunt.
What could be better than a dessert menu of pies? Not much—unless the crust is no good. Like the pot pie, all of the sweet pies have chewy, thick crusts that put up a fight with fork, knife, and, if you got that far, incisor. Deep-dish servings are generous and fillings, in general, very good. Not too sweet, pecan-caramel has broken pecans rather than pretty halves, but the flavor is brown sugary and nicely nutty. Mousse-like peanut butter-chocolate pie is rich but again, not a sugar bomb. The custard pie, heavier than the others, sits too flat in its deep dish, but, faithful to its obviously fresh ingredients, is a pure marriage of eggs, milk, and honey.
But who needs dessert, anyway? Enjoy one last bite of your pasta or fish, finish with coffee or a glass of rose, and toast your good fortune at landing a seat.
It’s going to be hard to get one.