Of the three restaurants now open (the Bocuse will open shortly) this seems to be the best for some reason. The building itself is a bit gaudy and American Decorator Tuscan, but it still provides a comfortable space to dine in. As elsewhere at the CIA, the service is generously sufficient, although some of the students have not quite settled down into their jobs.
The only weak point of the meal was the amuse. It was elegant looking, consisting of a sandwich of balsamic tulle (thin and crisp) enclosing a radicchio mousse. Conceptually it was great, but was strongly sweet, to the point that I was impatient for bread to arrive to get the sweetness out of my mouth.
For starters we had an escarole/ricotta focaccia, cold cuts, and pheasant ravioli, all of which were good. The escarole was very tasty, and had a bit of pine nut and raisin in it - perhaps a touch more would have added to the interest. The ravioli were tasty and nicely cooked, topped with some fried sage. They were also notably better than the thick, chewy ravioli we got at the St. Andrews Cafe on campus here. Main courses included grouper over saffron fregola - delicately flavored and nicely cooked. I has a grilled salmon over lentils, which was cooked rare as I requested, and had a good crisp skin. The lentils were good but didn't move the dish much one way or the other. Our son had the quail stuffed with sausage. It was boned out and wrapped in bacon, so it was easy to eat and quite filling. Dessert included a tiramisu as good as any, a fairly straightforward chocolate lava cake, and a little cheese plate with pecorino, parmesan, and creamy gorgonzola. With coffee, two glasses of good wine (Nebbiolo), a prosecco-blackberry kir, and their standard service charge (no tipping) and tax the pros-fixe total came to only $130 for lunch for the three of us, which is a real bargain and better than you can do nearly anywhere.
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