Haven Hot Chicken opens in Norwalk

Haven Hot Chicken opens in Norwalk

Haven Hot Chicken opened yesterday in Norwalk, at 596 Westport Ave. The store is in the left end of the store group just to the west of Whole Foods. The grand opening featured balloons and a sandwich give-away, long over when we came to get our dinner around 5:30pm. At that time, it wasn’t all that busy. This is the third Haven restaurant in Connecticut: the others are in New Haven and Orange. The first two feature Uber Eats delivery, and this new one presumably will as well once they get fully open.

This is one of a number of chains featuring their take on Nashville hot chicken, which is this case is breaded chicken breast sandwiches at one of 5 degrees of spiciness:

  • Country – no spice
  • Mild – hint of spice
  • Medium – proper spice
  • Hot – will burn
  • Haven – for the Hot Head

You can just order the sandwich for $12.99, or a Combo for $3.25 more, which includes a side and a drink. We ordered a Mild and a Medium combo with fries, a Hot sandwich and additional sides of their coleslaw and banana pudding, which totaled $54.45 with tax but before tip.

The spice levels

I personally found the mild, so unspicy that you only noticed it as an aftertaste. By contrast the Medium tastes spicy on biting into it, and continues after each bite. I found the Hot sandwich only a little spicier than the Medium, although, remember this is opening day, and things may change as they settle in.

Most Nashville hot chicken recipes call for frying the chicken normally and then spreading the spicy paste on afterwards. However, it is clear that at Haven, the spice is part of the batter. The chicken breast is coated with the spicy batter and deep fried. This pretty much means that these sandwiches are cooked to order. This would be consistent with the 10-15 minute wait for them to fill your order. At the moment that clearly does not apply to the French fries, however. I would expect this may improve as they gain more experience.

The sandwiches that they call “THE Sandwich” are enormous: they have an awful lot of chicken breast in each one. If your appetite is somewhat smaller, they offer chicken tenders (Tendies in their naming scheme) separately or as a slider. Like THE Sandwich, they are topped with coleslaw, a garlic dill pickle and a bit of Rob Sauce. You can also order several sauces separately: Rob, Blue Cheese, House Ranch, and Sweet Sauce.

Finally, they also offer Chicken and Waffles: two Tendies on a Liege waffle with maple brown sugar aioli and powdered sugar. This looks like an interesting combination we’ll try on another visit. There is a side of pancake syrup available, too.

Sides

Like some other nearby emporiums, they give you quite a plethora of French fries, and you might do better to order one sandwich with fries and another with coleslaw, and share.  You can also get a Mac and Cheese side, but it costs $1.65 additional as the provided side, or $4.99 separately.

Finally, they offer just one real dessert, “Banana Puddin’,” that is sweet and huge. Two people or even three could share this hugely filling dessert. The topping at first sight appears to be whipped cream, but it isn’t exactly: its much too thick to be just cream, perhaps with gelatin or other thickeners added.

This is their first day in a new location, and I’m include to overlook their first day issues. We’ll report back to you in a  month or so. Meanwhile, Haven Hot Chicken, welcome to Norwalk.

Shrimp with lobster sauce

Shrimp with lobster sauce

Shrimp with Lobster Sauce

This recipe from Joyce Chen doesn’t actually contain any lobster: it’s just that the sauce is the same one that she served with lobster.  She called this an Americanized Chinese dish.

But it is quite simple to make, and you can have it on the table as soon as the rice is ready. This recipe calls for ground pork. Often you can find it in the supermarket, but if not, you can chop up some pork in a food processor or by hand using a large knife. For black beans, ideally you should use fermented Chinese black beans but we used Goya black beans with sea salt as a substitute.

  • 1 lb raw shrimp
  • ½ cup ground pork
  • 2 tsp dry sherry
  • 2 Tb cornstarch
  • 4 Tb cooking oil
  • 2 slices ginger root, minced
  • 1 ½ Tb black beans, minced
  • 2 cloved garlic crushed and minced
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 Tb soy sauce
  • ¼ tsp MSG
  • ¼ tsp sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  1. Rinse and shell the shrimp and remove the intestinal vein. In these pictures, we used Vietnamese red shrimp, which are not yet cooked, but come already peeled and deveind.
  2. Mix the shrimp with the sherry and ½ Tb cornstarch.
  3. Mix the remaining cornstarch into ¼ cup of water.
  4. Heat the oil in a skillet or wok to high heat and add the shrimp. Cook and stir for about 2 minutes and remove from the pan, and keep warm. Keep as much oil as possible.
  1. Reheat the oil and add the ginger root, garlic and black beans.
  1. After stirring for about 30 seconds, add the pork, salt, soy sauce, MSG, sugar and 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 2 minutes.
  2. Mix in the shrimp and the stirred cornstarch mixture, after heating, stir in the beaten egg.
  1. Serve immediately over rice.
Athithi: outstanding Indian cuisine in Wilton

Athithi: outstanding Indian cuisine in Wilton

Athithi opened in the Gateway shopping center last fall and we have found it a delightful addition to Wilton’s restaurant scene. The menu features a wide variety of classic Indian dishes and a few other regional specialties. Note that the Dine-In menu and the Takeout menus are slightly different, because not all of their dishes travel. However, the menu is extensive and everything we have tried has been excellent. The restaurant features two Michelin star experienced chefs: Executive Chef Hemant Mathur, and Chef Chandru Krishnasamy, who along with Executive Manager Prince produce an outstanding experience. The word “Athithi” means “Guest” and we assure you that they treat their guests very well.

We first visited in November, before they had their wine license, and I went last night to brough home an excellent take-out meal. They clearly have that license now, however.

If you dine there, you will start with crispy naan bread served with two dipping sauces: a green one: mint chutney and a red one (coriander chutney), that is warmly mild and spicy with notes of cinnamon. They are good on your bread and on whatever entrée you order.

We tried a couple of interesting appetizers: the salmon and crab cakes ($14) served on an elegant little dish with a suspended sauce dish of green chili aioli.  The other was Ragda Chaat ($11): potato cakes with white peas, tamarind and mint chutney. You could share the salmon-crab cakes, and you definitely can share the Ragda Chaat as it is a substantial portion.

For our main courses, we ordered Rogan Josh ($22), a lamb stew with Kashmiri red chili, and Chicken Korma ($20), chicken cooked in a rich and creamy cashew sauce. Note that for your entrees you can specify mild, medium spicy, or spicy. None of them are going to burn your mouth, though. The medium and spicy are only slightly different. In medium, you can taste the spices, and in the spicy version the spice taste lingers in your mouth between bites.

We found the Rogan Josh with tender pieces of lamb the be an excellent choice, but I’ll have to admit that my wife’s Chicken Korma in cashew sauce won the night for us. It was delightful.

Finally, the menu lists four desserts, a Mango Cheesecake, Kulfi Falooda, Shahi Tukda and Moong Dal Halwa. They are probably all delicious as one of chefs has specialized in desserts. We know what mango cheesecake would be, but Kulfi Falooda? It’s a kind of ice cream sundae, made with Indian ice cream (no eggs), sweet basil seeds, corn starch vermicelli and rose syrup. Sometimes chefs add nuts or dried fruit as well. This version was absolutely amazing and I’d order it every time, except that I know the other three desserts will be great as well.

Take-Out

I went back last night to try some more dishes while my wife dined elsewhere. I ordered Punjabi Samosa ($8), which is a common Indian street food, described as a crispy turnover stuffed with spiced potatoes, chick peas, and green peas. Without trying the main course, I can attest to the winning greatness of this snack.

For my main course, I order Chicken Biryani ($19) served with mint yogurt.  Indian chefs obsess of making perfect biryanis, where each grain of basmati rice should be separate. The spices may include saffron and garam masala. I ordered mine at the top level “Spiced” and found it smooth and aromatic without being overly aggressively spicy. Like everything else, at Athithi, it was excellent.

I didn’t order a dessert, because the takeout menu doesn’t include any, but there was this extra cup of something beside the mint yogurt sauce.  It was a complementary rice pudding!

Welcome to Athithi and we’ll surely come back many times!

How to make a Patty Melt sandwich

How to make a Patty Melt sandwich

A Patty Melt is the classier diner version of a cheeseburger, and you can find recipes galore. Rather then using a standard hamburger bun, the Patty Melt used bread, usually rye, and they generally use Swiss Cheese and top the burger with caramelized onions. The version published by The Seasoned Mom even suggests adding Russian dressing and sharp cheddar.

The Food Network version from Ree Drummond adds Worcestershire sauce and Simply Recipes adds apple cider vinegar and suggests mustard.

But the one I really liked the best is the Serious Eats version by Kenji Lopez-Alt. In his version, he adds American Cheese as well as Swiss, both made up of a number of torn up slices of cheese.

Our recipe is a small variation on Lopez-Alt’s recipe, where we speed things up by using our electric griddle. Lopez-Alt suggest just using a cast-iron frying pan, but this limits you to one sandwich at a time, where on a griddle you could make 4,6 or even 8 sandwiches at a time! And making the caramelized onions is way easier on the griddle.

Ingredients for 2 sandwiches

  • 2 hamburger patties (about 4.5 oz)
  • 6 Tb butter
  • 4 slices rye bread (swirled)
  • 3-4 slices Swiss cheese torn into pieces
  • 3-4 slices American cheese torn into pieces
  • 1 medium to large yellow onion, sliced
  • 4 oz water

The whole trick to making these sandwiches is grilling the inside of the bread on the griddle to keep the bread from becoming soggy.

  1. Heat the griddle to hot (375˚ F)
  2. Melt 1-2 Tb of butter and place the 4 slices face down in the butter until they are brown, Don’t toast the other side yet. Remove the bread to a warm plate.
  3. Make two somewhat oblong patties, weighing bit more than 4 oz. (This is  a great use for a little kitchen scale.)
  4. Melt 2 oz of butter, and cook the patties until they are brown. Add more butter and flip the burgers and let them brown until the patties are at about 140˚ F inside. Remove the patties and keep them warm. Leave and meet juices or residue on the griddle.
  5. Add 2 more oz of butter and add the sliced onion. Cook the onions until they soften. Add an ounce or two of water and cook them down. This will aid  in browning, and incorporate any meat residue with the onions.
  6. When that water cooks down, add another ounce or two and cook the onions down again, until the are soft, brown and caramelized.
  1. Lay out the 4 bread slices, browned side up, and add pieces of torn up Swiss cheese to two of the slices, and pieces of torn up American cheese to the other two
  1. Place the burger on the American cheese and the browned onions on the Swiss cheese.
  2. Carefully close the sandwiches, and add about 1 Tb butter to the griddle. Toast the sandwiches on that side, and remove them.
  3. Add another Tb of butter and toast the other side of  the sandwiches on the griddle in this new butters.
  4. Remove, cut each sandwich in half and serve at once.

You will have melty American cheese and softly melted Swiss surrounding your delicious burger. Serve with French fries.

Seven Layer Cookies

Seven Layer Cookies

Seven layer cookies

You can make these simple cookies in little more than half an hour, and the ingredients are pretty easy to find. Note that when we say “Eagle Brand” condensed milk, we mean the thick, sweetened condensed milk that Borden’s has made for years, not the thin unsweetened evaporated milk you might use in sauces.

And, while you can use any butterscotch chips you can find, the Nestle ones taste pretty artificial. Trader Joes and Whole Foods and other specialty grocers have better varieties. You can also order them from King Arthur Flour. This time, we discovered that you can buy crumbled Butterfinger candy, and we used that for the “butterscotch” layer..

  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick) melted
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips (here we used Butterfinger crumbles)
  • 1can Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
  1. Preheat the oven to 350º F
  2. In an 10 x 13” pan, arrange the ingredients as follows
  3. Pour the melted butter into the pan, and tip to see to covers the entire pan bottom.
  4. Sprinkle in the graham cracker crumbs, distributing them with spatula or spoon if need be.
  5. Add the coconut, chocolate chips and butterscotch chips one after another.
  6. Pour the Eagle Brand condensed milk  over the entire surface.
  7. Add the chopped nuts.
  8. Bake for about 25 minutes and cool.
  9. Cut into bars or squares once cool, and store in a sealed container.

Not only are these bars delicious, so are the little pieces left over after carving, which invariably are snarfed up  by the cook!

Terra Fresh: our tomato tests

Terra Fresh: our tomato tests

In the above photo the right hand tomato was from a Terra Fresh treated plant, but it was picked a but later than the redder one on the left.

If you read much online gardening social media, you probably were bombarded with ads for Terra Fresh. This product claims to prevent tomato diseases and increase you yields of tomatoes by as much as a factor of two.

The selling on the website is very aggressive: once you access the site, it makes it hard to leave because of “Wait, don’t go” pop-ups. The first thing they show you is “Lifelong Gardener” Lex Case. He tells you that this is an “All natural blend of plant extracts that wildly increases the microbial population around your plant.” Other places, they refer to these as “phytochemicals,” which also means “plant extracts.“ Whatever you do, don’t click on “CC,” the closed caption options, because it appears to be nonsense from another plane; “…Express love with me in breathe easy social operation…”

Other than that you can’t look anywhere for more information, because terrafreshhome.com has only one main page and no menu. You can, of course order bottles of Terra Fresh, but there is no more information about what the bottles contain.

The ingredients are not “organic,” (which is only a marketing term) but are “all Natural (which doesn’t mean anything either.)

A single 16oz bottle costs $29.95, but there seem to be discounts of 10% you can apply. If you try to order just 1, you’ll get an Email urging you to order at least 3.

We bought just one. You get a 16oz bottle with about 1 oz of brown liquid in it, to which you add 15 oz of “purified water,” whatever that means. Then for each plant, you dissolve ¼ tsp of this solution in 1 pint of water and pour it around the roots.  They suggest every 2-3 weeks: we actually did it more like once a week.

We planted 14 tomato plants in our garden this year, and among them were 3 Amish Paste tomatoes, grafted to stronger stems to make them more disease resistant, and sold by Totally Tomatoes or Vermont Bean Seed (these are the same company). We decided to treat one of the three Amish Paste plants. We also grew 3 large tomato plants of the variety “BW,” produced by Prof Harry Klee’s lab at the University for Florida. His group has developed tomato varieties with excellent flavor, based on extensive consumer panel testing. We also treated one of the BW plants with one pint of the Terra Fresh solution weekly.

Tomato diseases

We followed instructions from several gardening experts, and removed the bottom leaves from each plant, and any that would touch the ground. Since the season was so dry, we saw no evidence of early or late blight on any plants, but of course Septoria Leaf Spot showed up about the time the plants set fruit. Treatment with Daconil helped somewhat, but we mostly just removed each leaf the developed spots as soon as we “spotted” it. The first plant to develop leaf spot was #4, which in fact was one being treated with Terra Fresh.

Harvest

This was a difficult season for gardening in Connecticut because we had a very dry summer, with only about 0.5 inches of rain in August, which slowed down ripening. In addition, even though our garden plot is fortified on all sides, including roof netting, thirsty raccoons began attacking the plants in late August. It is now the last week of September, and while there are still plenty of green tomatoes on most plants, ripening is much slower., as we decided to cut off the experiment in report the results.

Amish Paste

For the Amish Paste tomatoes our 3 plants had the following yields:

  • Amish #2 – 17 tomatoes, 125 oz
  • Amish #4 – 13 tomatoes, 77.5 oz *
  • Amish #6 – 10 tomatoes, 71 oz.

The plant marked with the asterisk(*) was treated with Terra Fresh and was far from the winner.

BW large tomatoes

  • BW #1 – 11 tomatoes, 136 oz
  • BW #13 – 9 tomatoes, 114 oz *
  • BW #12 – 4 tomatoes, 40.6 oz (partial shade)

Again, the Terra Fresh plant(*) was not the winner, but somewhat closer to the winner than the Amish Paste plant was.

So despite Lex Case’s extensive and aggressive advertising, this product doesn’t seem to do much positive. It may actually have retarded the growth a bit.

BW1 – not treated
BW 13 treated with Terra Fresh

And finally, among the paragraphs of nonsense on their sell-page, you will find:

One of our founders lost his son to cancer a few years ago. We are convinced that he got sick to begin with due to the chemicals we are bombarded with every day. We started Terra Fresh to be a part of the solution to that problem.

Terra Fresh

This is an appeal to emotion and gullibility, since he never identifies any actual causality in the unfortunate young man. It is just nonsense, much that we may feel for the unnamed “founder.”

So we still have most of the bottle if someone wants it. We don’t think the experimental results were very positive, though.

The Nantucket Hotel and Resort

The Nantucket Hotel and Resort

The (relatively) new Nantucket Hotel on Easton St is group of buildings that aspire to being Nantucket’s Grand Hotel.  We spent 5 days there recently and want to tell you some of the really nice things about this hotel as well as a few omissions.

Connection between buildings

One way to tell a Grand Hotel is by the room price, and this hotel is suitably expensive.  The hotel has 44 rooms of various sizes and layouts. The smallest room is the Islander Junior, with 225-260 square feet and  a Queen sized bed. The next one up is the one we rented, the Carriage Room with a King Sized bed and 260-280 square feet. This room rents for $550 a night in early June and $800 thereafter. In July, it is $1225. But, by mid-October, the rate is back down to $425.

 The bed is very comfortable, and the bath and shower are spacious, but speaking as a writer, I note that the room lacks a desk. In fact, you have to go up about 5 more grades to get a desk, or even a second chair.  I would note that there are tables with chairs in the game room and on the front porch as well as in the Business Center. The larger bedrooms and suites have a kitchenette, while our Carriage Room has but a simple, rather retro-looking  fridge.

Part of the game room

While the specs mention a coffee maker, we didn’t have one, but the hotel provides free coffee and tea in the lobby from 7am to 10am each day, which is ideal if one of you gets up earlier than the others. They change your bedding and any towels you want changed every day. And they leave a cute little rubber whale toy on the rolled-up bathmat. We named him ”Fudgie.”

Our whale

The summer Suite rates run from $1425 to $2995 a night and the cottages from $3495 for 2 bedrooms to $5995 for 4 bedrooms. We would note that we rented a 3-bedroom ocean view house in Madaket for 2 weeks for only a little more than that daily rate.

The Staff

The staff is incredibly friendly and helpful for almost anything you want to do. They have several drivers to take you to about any mid island destination or restaurant, and a concierge to make restaurant recommendations and reservations. When I asked for some dollar bills in change to pay for the bus route out to Madaket, they gave us free bus passes. And when I ran out of disposable razors, they gave me some, gratis. When I was getting my spouse some coffee, the carafe ran out, but the waiter was right there to replace it on the spot. We even got a ride to Stop and Shop to buy a case of soda; they even waited for me! And we did get a free ride and pickup to dinner at Straight Wharf and to and from the ferry.

The Breeze Restaurant

The Breeze Restaurant

The hotel’s restaurant, the Breeze, is open for breakfast every day. 7-10, except Sunday when it serves Brunch from 11-2. They serve lunch and dinner every day except Sunday and Monday. On those two nights, the hotel provides a free wine and cheese hour from 5-6pm.

Not enough to replace dinner, though. We have already written about the restaurant, but note that there isn’t any room service.

You can have breakfast there every day, even if you aren’t staying in the hotel, but if you get tired of it, you could walk down to Black-Eyed Susan’s  (now, sadly closed) on India St, or pick up a couple of cruffins or muffins at Born and Bread, at the corner of Centre and Broad streets. In this later case, we brought the baked good back to the hotel porch, where there are nice little tables and chairs, and brought out coffee and tea from the lobby.

The front porch

There is also a Breeze Bar, but it is only open on Friday and Saturday nights from 5-9pm. Late night socializing is not on the agenda.

In fact, the little gift shop carries no snacks of any kind, except a few Pepsis. It is this one omission that takes the Nantucket Hotel out of the Grand Category. You’d need to walk a mile or so to the Brotherhood of Thieves or the Juice Bar to get that snack.

The gift shop has no daily newspapers, but the hotel gets one copy daily of the Times, the Globe and the WSJ that you can read in comfy chairs nearby, but not to take to your room. This is actually pretty nice, since the free coffee and tea are just steps away.

Despite these small issues, this is a lovely hotel that we unhesitatingly recommend. Consider it in your plans.

Tower in moonlight
Nantucket Breeze Restaurant for breakfasts

Nantucket Breeze Restaurant for breakfasts

With the sudden non-opening of Black-eyed Susan’s, the number of downtown restaurants serving breakfast has dwindled to the Counter on Main Street (for takeout), and the Born and Bread bakery. So, you might want to consider a short walk over to the Nantucket Hotel and Resort on Easton St. Their Breeze Restaurant is open to the public, and serves breakfast daily from 7:30-10:00 am, and Sunday Brunch from 11-2. We stayed at the hotel last week and had most of our breakfasts there.

Their menu is limited, however: there are no Danish, croissants, or muffins available, but they offer eggs any way, omelets, 4 variations on Eggs Benedict, pancakes and French toast. They also have granola and Scottish oatmeal.

Eggs over easy

Our first day, we ordered 2 eggs over easy, and they were quite good, although mine seems to have had one of the yolks broken. We enjoyed them in any case. The toast was a single thick slice, unbuttered, but they did provide some wrapped butter pats.

French toast
Scotch oatmeal

We also enjoyed the French toast served with fresh berries and whipped cream, and the Scotch Oatmeal served with blueberries. Both very satisfying and well-presented and served.

Pancakes

But the day we got Buttermilk pancakes, we were kind of disappointed, because the three pancakes in a stack were so flat they couldn’t have been more than ¾ inch high. Clearly, they were using a mix whose leavening had expired.

On the right, you will see the buttermilk pancakes I make nearly every Sunday, to show how much they should have risen. Since the actual recipe has only 6 ingredients, it is silly to be using a mix. And if they aren’t, they should have seen that their baking powder was DOA.  Their pancakes came without the promised “whipped butter,” but the server quickly brought me some wrapped butter when I asked.

The sausage they offer is chicken sausage, and it isn’t really very sausagey: needs more spices.

Eggs Benedict

There are four varieties of Eggs Benedict on the menu: Regular ($20), Salmon and Kale ($23), Crab Cake Benedict ($26) and Lobster Eggs Benedict ($30). All of them are served on a tough, uncuttable “Portuguese muffin.”

Breeze’s Eggs Benedict
Our Eggs Benedict

If you look at their Eggs Benedict, shown on the left, you see perfectly round eggs covered with hollandaise. We call these “Industrial Poached Eggs,” because they are cooked by steaming in a round mold, which produces little “egg pucks.”

Since poaching means cooking eggs in gently simmering water, these really don’t qualify: not only is the texture different, they don’t cook uniformly. In fact, the whites of their eggs were not fully cooked, while this never happens in traditional poached eggs. These were served with a “lemon hollandaise,” meaning that they added a lot more lemon juice, nearly enough to curl your hair. Here is our recipe for making Eggs Benedict, shown on the right. Theirs were OK, but we’d probably skip them in the future.

You can get a good breakfast at the Breeze restaurant if you skip the pancakes and Eggs Benedict. And, if you want to walk  a little farther, the White Elephant serves breakfast, too, 8-11am.

Is Black-eyed Susan’s gone for good?

Is Black-eyed Susan’s gone for good?

We were surprised that  Black-eyed Susan’s wasn’t open for breakfast this week.  The windows show no sign of life and

  • the web site still says “Closed for the season. See you in April, 2022.”  They missed that one.
  • The answering system says they will not open for Daffodil Weekend. (April 22-24,2022)
  • They don’t answer messages on their Facebook page
  • The equipment behind the counter looks to be cleared out.

The best we can find out is that they lost their chef and decided to close permanently.  This a real shame and hope they find a way to revive this lovely business.

This has been a terrible year for restaurants on Nantucket. We lost 58 Union, Keepers is closed for the season, Boarding House and The Pearl may open next year, and we really need this one to stay!

The depressing interior
In better days
Straight Wharf Restaurant

Straight Wharf Restaurant

Straight Wharf Restaurant

Straight Wharf Restaurant  is one of Nantucket’s absolute gems: an excellent seafood restaurant with four star food and service overlooking the harbor. It is great for special occasions or anytime, considering the prix fixe pricing structure they introduced this spring. For $78, you get the choice of any appetizer and any entrée from their extensive menu.  There are a couple of items with supplemental charges, like their famous clambake, but they are worth it. It is still a terrific bargain. Dessert are extra, but not terribly expensive.

Our service began with a bluefish pate as an amuse-bouche served with excellent crackers

Bluefish pate

followed by some excellent bread and butter.

On this visit we each had to again experience their (shell-less) clambake of lobster, littleneck clams, spicey chorizo, fingerling potatoes (as potato chips) sweet corn (as a delicious emulsion) for a $17 supplemental charge. This is nominally a half-sized portion, offered as an appetizer, but it is still a fantastic (and filling)  dish, as shown in the photo above. This is their signature dish and we’ve had it several times in the past, and it never fails to amaze.

Scallops

For one entrée, we had scallops. Now scallops are usually presented as just sautéed and served with little else. But here, in this outstanding restaurant, the scallops were served on a sunchoke mole`, that is a puree of sunchokes with some unsweetened chocolate added for richness, and served with green beans sugar, snap peas and some more sunchokes, along with a mango and gooseberry salsa and some bits of oranges as well. What a delicious and imaginative presentation.

Salmon with tarragon toum

It’s hard to get decent salmon in restaurants, as it is often dry and overcooked. But this salmon was slo-poached, and incredibly juicy and tender. It was served with a tarragon toum, a sort of tarragon-based mayonnaise, roasted beets, hen-of-the-woods mushrooms, fennel, arugula, garden herbs and a preserved lemon vinaigrette. It was outstanding, and our only regret that after that capacious appetizer, we couldn’t finish it all.

Chocolate cherry tart

Finally,  for dessert, we had a delicious warm chocolate-cherry tart. The pudding itself was actually hot, right out of the saucepan, served with a bit of vanilla ice cream, to top it off.

The amazing thing is that including two cocktails and two sodas, our bill, including tax, was only $289. Compare that to some other restaurants and you’ll know what a terrific deal this was. And the service was warm, friendly and attentive.