BY ELENA MANCINI
In a tree-lined neighborhood where there is no shortage charming, character-filled nook-style eateries, The Place delivers both culinary substance and romance with a sophisticated and well-executed Med-New American menu and warm, unhurried service.
An intimate, cavernous space with arched walls and candle lighting makes this delightful restaurant “the place” of choice for a first date or an anniversary celebration. However, in the mild-weather seasons, a table in its covered sidewalk terrace is the way to go.
The menu is seasonal and balanced, offering entrees that feature fish, poultry, pork, pasta and vegetarian varieties. The flavorful, expertly-executed Med- inspired interpretations of many familiar comfort food favorites: such as roast chicken, pork tenderloin and hangar steak ensure that dining at this original, trend-defying restaurant an all-around pleasurable and satisfying experience.
At my most recent visit with a friend, I enjoyed the chicory, endive and lady apple salad. It was an abundant mixture of fresh, mildly bitter greens topped with roasted almonds for texture and a light, zesty vinaigrette dressing.
The light, clean and satisfying flavors of the salad inspired me to proceed with the vegetarian moussaka. The choice evinced a very clear instance of an inventive adaptation of a popular classic. In spite of being a meatless entree, the dish was hearty and championed a delicious contrast of subtle and spicy, acidic flavors.
The thickly-stacked layers of yellow squash, potatoes and eggplant topped with a delicate layer of gouda bechamel placed over a bed of toothsome okra in a tomato-stew combined a distinctive medley of tastes and textures that harmonized and lingered happily on the palate.
My dining companion ordered the pan-roasted chicken breast. Prepared in sherry wine jus and set on a bed of steamed French beans, herb-roasted potatoes and cipollini onions, it also proved a satisfying choice.
Although we had each reached our individual limits, we were determined to not forgo dessert. Thus, we opted to go sinful and split a portion of the warmed triple chocolate cake, which was optimally warm, creamy and not overly-sweet. Served with a scoop of cinnamon ice cream, my palate was humming.
Our Place is an excellent choice for unhampered quiet indulgence. It offers an up-to-date cocktail list (with $14 average price) and a respectable wine list with numerous by-the-glass choices (oscillating a few dollars above and below the $10 mark). It’s not a top of the list option, if you’re on a tight budget, but the tabs are eminently reasonable for what you get: quality food in a memorable setting.