Context. We went on a Saturday at 5;45 with a reservation for two. We arrived early, around 5:30 and were the first ones there. We were seated promptly. We were there until seven And the place was packed when we left.
Atmosphere: it's a small, cozy, casual place with wood tables and a wood seating banquet against one wall. Several tables are semi-communal, but they seemed to seat those last. There is a good sized bar to the right when you come in and a couple of tables near the door that looked like they would not be comfortable whenever someone comes in. I would describe the decor as barn casual. The kitchen is semi open with a lot of prep and cooking behind done right in front of diners. This is an efficient crew, cooking, plating and getting the food out quickly. There is one large table in the back but most tables sit tw or four. The banquet seating is wood so it is not soft. There are pillows for the back.
Service: service was excellent all around, generally reserved but our waiter was quite friendly and very informed about the dishes. Our coats were taken when we sat and a water bottle was immediately brought and water glasses were regularly filled. We asked lots of questions and the waiter was informed and patient with us.
Food: the menu features about five "bites", including dried porcini doughnuts, the already mentioned sardine chips. Radishes with browned butter, brandade. We tried both the doughnuts and chips. The doughnuts are fried dough balls with a light dusting of porcini powder. The flavor. Is mild but yummy and you get about ten doughnuts which is plenty for two. They are served with a warm goat cheese dipping sauce which would only be I proved wi some chopped mushrooms or truffle oil added. We also ordered the sardine chips because reviews indicated they were great. There are four potato chips, each with a whole sardine fried into the chip. They are served with a strong horseradish dip. They are very fishy.
There are three other sections to the menu, one with salads and small apps; another with four or five pastas; and a third with mains. From the apps, we had the dinginess crab Louis salad and the beef tartare. The salad was fantastic with chopped greens and too much Russian dressing. I asked for lightly dressed but if that was lightly then I'd hate to see heavy. Next time, I would ask for the dressing on the side. The dressing comes in clumps on the salad but it was still too much. It's a flavorful dressing so if you are into dressing you will want it. The salad is tipped with a wafer thin cracker that seems dot be a mixture of cornmeal and sugar and flour, very tasty. It's not a small salad.
The beef tartare comes with hummus, pickled daikon radish and pita bread. I is a small portion of tartare, but all you really need. There is a small spoon of hummus and then four pita slices. Tartare was very good.
For our mains, after much discussion and description from our friendly waiter, we decided on the rabbit lasagne and the sausage with stuffing and kale. Both dishes were very flavorful, incredibly rich and I'd eat them both again! The rabbit is shredded between light layers of a home are lasagne noodle with a coconut milk sauce. The piece is about the size of the average fist. The sausage was a large portion, so much we had to take some home. There are three pieces of sliced sausage, three smaller pieces of sliced stuffing and a purée of kale and pomegranate as well as some very tasty fried kale leaves. The stuffing is incredibly rich and I would guess there was some serious fat in it.
The dessert menu looked good with cheesecake, caramel panna cotta and ice creams. We were too full to take advantage
Drinks: we had two cocktails and a glass of wine for. The large, diverse menu. There are about six specialty cocktails which tend to emphasize more traditional type drinks, not those sweet, syrupy ones. Tere are two wines on tap, about ten beer choices, about ten white and red wine choices by the glass and maybe forty bottles or so. We tried a wonderful manhattan Like cocktail with rye, black walnut and orange, really lovely and balanced with a touch of bitters. And, a cocktail made with butternut squash liquid, a local gin and something else. Very unusual, not sweet, but balanced. The waiter recommended it and I was glad to try it. I told the waiter I wanted a glass of red with some nice fruit and he gave me a frappato that wasn't on the menu but was perfect with strawberry notes, light and a nice compliment to the rich rabbit.
Final comments: we had just been to aq and really liked it but we liked this place better. Service was more friendly and organized, portions were significantly larger and all the dishes were extremely well executed and flavored. We will be back.
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