Not all of the menu, though, lives up to the sleek simplicity of the cosmopolitan decor: some dishes need pruning and tweaking, a greater refinement and deftness in the combining of flavors and textures. One evening's pork chop, though marinated in a gingery tamarind sauce, had been grilled dry. (The lean pigs we breed in the U.S. have made pork loin a difficult cut to keep juicy.) The soba noodles, tossed with Asian slaw and peanut dressing, which I had assumed would be chilled, surprised me--in a tasty if sticky way--by being warm. A friend's special pasta, sauced with a very mild Thai curry, was too bland for her but featured wonderful, plump mussels. Lamb chops, nicely grilled to medium rare, highlighted a mishmash of flavors--rosemary and thyme mingled with a gelatinous chili-soy glaze, roasted potatoes, and sauteed Brussels sprouts. A third friend's Chilean sea bass, though beautifully plated and nicely seasoned, was less fresh than it should have been.
Fortunately, we were there on a Wednesday night, an evening, along with Mondays, when wines under $70 are sold at half price--a real deal. We experimented with three lovely bottles, suggested by the knowledgeable staff and new to us, from Melange's extensive collection, housed in a striking contemporary glass partition along one side of the dining room. A trio performing in the bar added a celebratory backdrop to our long, leisurely meal, making us all feel as if we had slipped on those strapless sandals.
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