I’m becoming a colossal bore.
Seriously. If I’m boring myself this much, I can’t imagine what you must be thinking.
I’m talking about me writing the same old story, again and again. It goes a little something like this: Nice restaurant, well-prepared food, nothing but Risotto for the vegetarian entrée.
At first, it was funny. (Although, admittedly, not that funny.) But now, it’s just getting to be a downer.
Here’s another one to toss onto the pile: Universal Café. It’s everything you could ever want in a neighborhood restaurant. Small and intimate with an open kitchen, their space tells a story of craftsmanship and care. The menu changes every other day: It’s short and sweet, with a clear point of view.
My Mixed Lettuce Salad was perfectly dressed in Red Wine Vinaigrette. There was nothing fussy about it, and that’s the way I like it. Our table shared the Grilled Flatbread with Escarole, Juliet Heirloom Tomatoes, and Fresh Mozzarella. It was lovely. Uber-thin and crisp. And my Risotto (grrrrrr) with Roasted Butternut Squash, Leeks, White Truffle Oil and Thyme carried an uncommon depth of flavor. Subtly sweet, but never cloying.
I’m sure there are some folks out there who wish I’d simply get over it and take the yummy meal at face value. (Believe me. I understand. I have this argument with myself all the time.) But isn’t that admitting defeat?
Here’s the thing—as I look down at their menu, I see ideas and flavors that sing to me. Something braised in red wine with Tokyo Turnips, Carrots and Horseradish Cream. Something sautéed with Baby Leeks, Fingerlings, Mache and Verjus. These are combinations that never show up in Risotto. They just sit on the menu, taunting me. While my fellow diners explore a world of possibilities, I’m chained to the culinary kids table. No matter how delicious the Risotto is, it still lives in the same neighborhood as all its cousins, somewhere near the corner of Creamy and Savory.
So do me a favor. If you know a chef, tell them to branch out. Tell them to try something new. Please. I’ll love them for it. I’ll sing their praises and send all my friends.
And if they refuse, bitch-slap them. For me.