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My friends liked most of what they piled on their plates: cinnamon-apple French toast, serviceable cheese blintzes, cheesy bacon hash browns, and an eggs Benedict that wasn't outstanding but passed muster. There's an omelet station, too, but patrons don't have to stand there and listen to Donny Osmond wailing "Go Away, Little Girl" (or something equally milk-curdling) while waiting for the eggs. There's a tidy little form to be filled out at the table, and the server — an aggressively chatty actor, in my case — does all the work.
Dinner is a much more interesting experience, though I might have missed something more exciting by not dining on one of the nights — Wednesday through Saturday — when live entertainment is in the lounge. On those evenings, various musicians and combos play the greatest hits of the 1970s, with a wild-and-crazy DJ taking over every Saturday. Having grown up listening to those songs, I don't particularly want to hear them again. Especially while I eat.
The dining room was so dimly lighted on the Tuesday night I dined, I could barely read the menu. It's one thing to pay tribute to the 1970s, but it's another thing entirely to dine in the gloom of the Middle Ages. Another table must have complained before I could, because the lights magically turned up at some point. Our charming waiter, Mica (who briefly made desserts for the restaurant and then didn't), fussed over my friends Becky and Queenie. They were instantly his converts, even when he forgot to bring out Becky's wine or rolls for the table or, finally, the check. "Isn't he wonderful?" Becky asked.
Hey, he looked like a young Rick James, and that was good enough in this setting. And on a cold night, good enough can be a welcome relief. The soup, a rich potato concoction, was served white-hot, and a glitch — the kitchen was out of trout — was solved without hassle. (Salmon was made instead, in the manner of the trout: blanketed with a sheer skrim of lemon-dill cream sauce.)
Becky hesitated, unable to decide between cheese tortellini and jambalaya — "It comes with jalapeño hush puppies," she whispered, as if that might be a good thing. She chose the pasta, tossed in a fine sun-dried-tomato "pesto" defeated by shrimp that had been sauteed with enough garlic to ward off an entire dance floor of vampires. She loved it, even if tortellini — with anything — is the "Disco Duck" of the pasta world.
Maybe it was the music — nothing good ever happens when I hear Evelyn "Champagne" King's "Shame" — but I chose wildly and unsuitably that night. I saw "prosciutto-stuffed chicken breast" on the menu but didn't read the description carefully enough to see that the meat was "encrusted in Italian crumbs and fried." Fried is an understatement. The cream-cheese-and-prosciutto-stuffed bird was served under a rocky armor of bread crumbs. I was glad I'd filled up on that baked brie, because eating enough of the chicken would have required a pickax. My friends raved about their meals and felt that I should have known better than to order a fried chicken breast in a restaurant that wasn't, you know, famous for fried chicken. A good point.