Bottom Line: They put themselves out there. Go.
Whenever a chef cooks from the middle of his restaurant, and his wife greets you at the door, you really shouldn’t criticize. It’s about as polite as blogging about the food served when your friend XYZ invited you over to dinner.
(That, of course, is the secret behind this restaurant…you think you’re at a friend’s house for dinner and yet somehow you want to hand over your VISA before leaving.)
This is the sort of restaurant to which you can wear your high heels, and then wave your hammer chop around by the bone without anyone scowling. There might be oysters, but only if they’re fresh. There are a few constants, like the chicken livers and the shrimp bowl, but the rest of the menu rotates around what’s fresh, what’s good, what’s now.
We go for a late lunch when we are hung over, or after we have been forced to attend some stuffy business function where the food is as uptight as the guests. New Year’s, family in town, third anniversary. The air sounds happy and the conversation smells good. The waiter will talk to you about his favorite place to buy Ukrainian sausage.
I’m not going to say that every meal has been perfect. There have been some small problems with consistency, mainly when Chef Alex and his wife Danielle are absent. Soggy frites and underdressed salads, that sort of thing.
But on the whole, this is the sort of spot that resists culinary dissection. If they make my martini with vodka instead of gin, I forgive it. If the crispy beef scraps are a little less crispy… meh… so what. The food is, on the whole, excellent. But more than that, Alex and Danielle are standing in the middle of it all , facing their guests with their food, perfect or imperfect. We see that they are people who care about what we eat, and who welcome us into a space which is, unabashedly, theirs and ours at the same time.