Thursday, January 25, 2007

Three Latest and Best

Bao, Sweetbreads, and Fromage Fort at L'Explorateur: Was it the amuse boche with house-made fromage fort? Or the sweetbreads with green tea and bone marrow ice cream? Or was it the perfectly delicious short rib bao I can't stop thinking about? Maybe it was the fresh oysters, the perfectly roasted chicken or the cassolet. Or the David Bruce Pinot Noir? Or possibly it was just the fact that Neal Brown was cooking.

Mo's Knows Wine: Enjoyed a lovely winter evening last week at Mo's, A Place for Steaks rummaging around their wine list and settling on a bottle of Duckhorn's Paraduxx. Really, you can't go wrong with anything from this well-known winery. Perfect with Mo's snacks and lively Friday night bar scene.

Hot Jazz at the Chatterbox: Can anything be better than front row seats at this downtown institution for a few hot sets of jazz? Possibly the funky crowd and decent beer list. On the right night when everyone is having a great time, you can almost forget you're in Indianapolis.

Two-Minute Warning: Over the years, I've had a love/hate relationship with Scholar's Inn on Mass Ave. I love the funky decor, the huge curved high back chairs, and the bar. I love half price martini nights when I'm in the mood for fun girly-tinis. On the other hand, I can't stand most of the food which involves the typical salty, gloppy favorites like their crab dip. Most of the really high end innovative appetizers and entrees from their early days have evolved into lower-end customer favorites. Sadly, they're not my favorites. While the crostini sandwhiches are fine at lunch, heavier dishes like the pasta and hot sandwiches are just big messes. The crab melt on polenta was loaded with sticky melted cheese over dried out polenta that had solidified into a gooey mess by the time it arrived at our table. Dinner entrees aren't much better. However, there are a few things they do pretty well. The burgers looked good (we didn't order one) and the salads are terrific, an especially good bet for lunch. My recommendation for dinner? Skip the fish and stick to small plates. They do a pretty passable brunch on Sunday mornings, but beware the "seafood surprise" specials which always make me think Bourdain's brunch warnings from Kitchen Confidential. Dining room service isn't really top notch, but the bartenders are good. And a secret? Half-price on all bottles of wine on Monday night. They are have a carry-out license so if you order two, you can always take one home.

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