A wrong turn put us behind schedule and when we walked in 20 minutes late, they had already given our table away. They do not mess around at this place where reservations must be made months in advance if you want your choice of seating times. They were able to accommodate us after about a half hour wait.
The space is tiny. Two rooms on two floors, each with a small but fully stocked bar and tables that are small and packed close together. The staff is seasoned and professional and they know their menu inside and out. They also work together to keep the water glasses full and the small tables cleared of unneeded plates.
We started with steak tartare, blue prawns with rooter mayo and fried sweetbreads and pickled shallots. The tartare was a nice sized portion and it came with toasted baguette slices. The steak was delicious and had a creamy texture. the most prominent flavor was onion which was strong and tended to overpower the steak and other seasonings. The 3 blue prawns were fresh, sweet and perfectly cooked but the puffy batter was greasy and soggy. The sweetbreads were outstanding but small. Two pieces about the size of chicken livers left you wanting more.
For dinner, my wife and youngest son split a hamburger. The waitress told them that it would be the best burger they ever had. They ordered it medium well. It came with no pink in the middle and had a nice layer of melted brie cheese. The burger came with a generous portion of french fries. They were fresh, hand cut fries with a nice crunch on the outside. They both enjoyed the burger.
My oldest son had a half order of stringozzi with lamb sugo. The half order was the largest meal we had and it was more than enough to fill any reasonable person. The pasta was perfectly al dente and the bits of lamb provided a beautiful, complex flavor combination with the red sauce.
I had the calves tongue with cold soba noodles. The noodles were delicious. The tongue tasted great but the piece was so small that it was hard to believe that this was an entree. The meat was about the size of a lipstick tube. It was cooked to a hardened crust on the outside and it was tender on the inside.
For desert, we shared a piece of tres leche, a traditional Mexican cake soaked in sweatened milk and cream. This was a nice size piece of cake sitting in a bowl of milk and cream. Wet, silky and sweet. Best tres lechee I've had in some time. My son also had Dogwood coffee. When the waitress put the cup down, she waited by the table until he took a sip. She could tell from the look on his face that something was not right. She asked if it was hot enough because it came from a pot that had been sitting for a while. She took the coffee away and brought a freshly brewed cup and everything was good but it's a prime example of the food serving motto: "when in doubt, throw it out". That first cup should not have been served.
Because this place is in such demand and it's so small, people are packed in here and it gets warm. Patrons often have to turn and lean at their tables in order to let waitstaff pass. A full stomach and a hot room will leave you feeling tired and sleepy before you depart. Also, folks dining near the bar will have their faces confronted with rear ends of people waiting for tables. This can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on the butt in your face and your particular tastes. When making reservations, ask for butt free tables against the wall or window.