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Friday October 21, 2016
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Jolly Pumpkin



One menu, consisting of appetizers, sandwiches, pizzas, and salads, serves both lunch and dinner. (Some portions are smaller at lunch, with prices correspondingly lower.) Entree specials expand the choices at both meals. Although the food is not inexpensive, the quality is generally high, and the portions are generous. However, perhaps because the restaurant is so busy, the kitchen's execution is uneven, occasionally very good, frequently fine, but too often lackluster or unfortunate and sometimes simply forgetful.

Appetizers offered just such a mix of delicious and not-so-wonderful. Grilled oysters with spiced butter were lovely--briny and piquant. Farmer's Fritto, a tempura-dipped fried seasonal vegetable, featured butternut squash the evening we sampled it. Delicately crispy outside, meltingly sweet inside, the squash fries were smashingly good and utterly addictive dipped in the spicy mayonnaise accompaniment. The Truffled Fries were almost as tasty, the aioli on the side simply gilding the lily. As a lover of most things fried, however, I was disappointed by the Tofu Cracklings, thin leaves of tofu which apparently had been dried, then fried, and served with a chili dipping sauce. Drying only concentrated the tofu's intrinsic flavorlessness, while frying gave it the texture of corrugated cardboard. We couldn't find any of the promised cashews in this dish, but we greedily mopped up the delicious dipping sauce. The Gardener's Snackboard, a cheese plate garnished with roasted and marinated vegetables, was not worth the investment. The roasted yellow beets were earthy and sweet, but the cheeses--a cheddar, Swiss, and blue--were hardly memorable, and the marinated fennel was watery and utterly devoid of flavor.

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