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Thursday October 30, 2014
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Small Plates, Big Ambitions

 

continued

Though the dining room wasn't nearly full during my visits at weekday lunch and dinner and Saturday dinner, my eavesdropping on other tables uncovered repeat patrons. I spied an elderly couple praising the truly hot coffee they had come for, a party of four relishing premium California red wines by the glass, and a half-dozen or so singleton male diners (some with laptops open), clearly traveling businessmen. Whether typing away between forkfuls or cradling stemless wineglasses and gazing into the distance, they seemed content. I noticed several of these solo diners also ordered the dishes I liked best: the aforementioned sliders, a light but flavorful chicken Caesar wrap at lunch, and a great Mediterranean meatloaf dinner perked up with pancetta and parmesan and served with a side of real mashed potatoes. Comfort food with a bit of flair is what many a traveler needs most.

Unfortunately, except for that yummy meatloaf, the full dinners I sampled didn't sustain the appeal of the small plates. Gummy fettuccine made a mess of pasta primavera, veal scallopine could have used a good pounding, and the heavily advertised Spanish paella was bland and dry, as if overcooked or under-loved. Though real saffron threads were discernible, along with strips of calamari and white-meat chicken, it wasn't anywhere near as special as paella should be. We ordered it twice just to be fair, but it was even drier the second time.

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