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Tuesday November 24, 2015
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Small Plates, Big Ambitions



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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