Thursday, February 23, 2017

Review - Everybody

Last night, I was really lucky to be gifted a ticket to Branden Jacobs-Jenkins' new play, Everybody, at Signature Theatre.  I fully intended on buying a ticket, but with my post-trip-of-dreams budgetary restraints, and the fact that it sold out really quickly, I thought I missed the boat.  Thankfully, I have generous friends who think of me when they can't use tickets they've already purchased.  I'm also thankful I hadn't read any of the reviews yet. I did have to rush around a bit at work, but I was happy to skip out of the office and skip over to the Signature Center in such lovely weather...

I do not know how I missed it, but Everybody is a rather free adaptation of Everyman, that fifteenth century allegory most theater history students have read at one time or another.  You figure you're going to go your whole life without actually seeing Everyman, so it was kind of fun to catch a contemporary version of it, though there are some quotes here and there from an original text/translation.  I think at this precarious time in the world, seeing a play that ruminates on life and death, mortality and morality, race and identity, and self v society has a special resonance. There were allusions and comments on many current events, including the election from hell, that were sitting on top of the timeless topicality of the play itself.

I've seen two other plays by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Appropriate (review HERE ), and War (review HERE ).  Most of the other reviews of Everybody makes mention of how eclectic Jacobs-Jenkins is, how none of his plays are really alike.  I can see that, though I thought this quote in my review of War was pretty apropos of how I felt last night:  "This is only the second play I've seen by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins and it's clear he has a lot to say. I will enjoy hearing more from him in the future. Even if I didn't find War to be completely successful, it's definitely worthy of your time and attention.  It's well-acted, smart, thought-provoking, and very funny in places.  Those types of plays are always worth supporting."

On the whole, I think I liked Everybody more than that, but otherwise, the quote is pretty accurate. I did find the play less successful in some places than in others.  The production is very meta-theatrical, with lots of in-jokes and seemingly off-the-cuff humor - it starts with a gal in a Signature Theatre t-shirt, coming down to the front of the house to ask us to turn off our phones.  At first, you think she's really an employee, but as her 'pre-show' announcement gets longer and longer, then it becomes clear she's part of the show.  She then turns into God, who summons Death (played by a riotously funny Marylouise Burke), then suddenly audience members start standing up throughout the house and they're part of the show, too.  I was nervous they were looking for audience participation, but no, these were the actors.  

photo credit: Monique Carboni
At one point, all of the actors go to the front of house and we're told by our usher friend that what character each actor will play is determined every night by lottery draw (or, in this case, a number from a bingo ball container). We're informed that there are 120 possibilities of different performer combinations and that tonight's may be one that's never been done before.  At first, I thought this was just part of the dialogue and not really true, but I've since read the reviews, and talked to friends who had already seen the show, and it IS true! The actors have to learn the entire script because they don't know which part they'll play until that moment!  Amazing.  That's a whole OTHER level of meta-theatricality that I enjoyed. Part of me wants to go back and see a whole new combination!

I saw him as Everybody last night (photo credit: Monique Carboni)
All of the actors were really terrific and put in quite physical performances as well as smart and funny ones.  Everybody can be riotously funny at times and it can also be very heady and esoteric.  Also sometimes a little dry and almost boring.  But it was also very moving at times, when I started to think about all of the aloneness a person must feel right before they die. But each vignette with Friendship, Kinship, Cousinship, Stuff and Love was really well-written and very sharp. The parts of the play I didn't respond to as much were when the theater went dark and we heard audiorecordings of Everybody (the character) relaying a dream that is just like the play that we're watching.  So it's as if we hear about the scene, then we see the scene, then we hear about it again.  I found that to be less successful than the straight dramatization of the play's action, but that's ok.

The sets and lights were terrific and I also enjoyed the original music in the play.  I feel as if I don't want to spoil all of the clever fun that is in Everybody, but there's so much that made me laugh out loud beside all the other stuff that made me think.  Before I forget, though, I want to mention that there was one moment in the play, one theatrical device, that delighted me more than nearly anything I've ever seen.  I was completely tickled by it. In the back of my mind, I kept thinking, 'why am I so tickled by this?!' but I really was. I sort of levitated with delight and, in that moment, was yet again reminded why theater is so important.  To me and to society.  For moments like that.  I'll remember it forever.

As I said before, I think Branden Jacobs-Jenkins has a lot of things he wants to say and I think he's worth listening to. I definitely think you should try to see Everybody - I've not seen anything quite like it before. I don't intend to make the same mistake before his next play and pray that someone takes me to see it.  We need our playwrights to keep talking and if it takes me buying tickets to keep them talking, I'm all in.  

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Weekend in D.C.

Every time I go to Washington D.C., I wonder why I don't return more often.  The city is compact, beautifully European, and has great food.  I haven't been there since 2014 - when I was sent there last weekend for a writers conference, I jumped at the chance to go.  It was a tiring weekend, but a fun one, too.

It was a little hard to prep for the trip, though; the weather in D.C. has been insane!  It was 72 degrees the day I took the train down there, then the temp dropped to the low 30s for two days, then went back up to the 50s.  Packing became very difficult.  I ended up taking a rain coat, thinking I could layer and not have to carry my winter coat around on the warmer days.  It was not the right choice.  It didn't matter how many layers I had on, I could never make that rain coat warm enough.  Oh well, lesson learned.  Thankfully, my hotel was only four blocks away from the convention center, so I guess a brisk walk was good exercise.

I went down to D.C. the night before the conference started, since the first session was at 9am.  Happily, I rode with a former co-worker on the very convenient Acela, and we spent a fun evening hopping from here to there in the city.  We ended up at a restaurant I visited a long time ago (maybe ten years ago?) and where I have always wanted to return: Jaleo.  A tapas restaurant, Jaleo is one of Chef Jose Andres' first spots in the States.  It's been there for a while (since the early 90s, I think), but it has gone through some renovations since I've been there. It's now a trendy, buzzy-looking kind of place, but the food is still to die for.

I tried to make a reservation, but apparently we were there at the end of Restaurant Week D.C. (wait, WHAT?!), and so Jaleo was booked solid.  My friend and I decided to stop there anyway, to see if there was some room at the bar.  And there was - hurray!  We ordered a glass of sangria and three plates of tapas: the pan de cristal con tomate (bread with tomatoes), which is one of my very favorite things to eat anywhere ever; the croquetas de jamon iberico (fancy ham fritters); and the espinacas a la catalana (the most amazing spinach dish ever). The sangria was bright and fruity, with a depth of flavor from a little brandy, I think.  It was delicious and perfectly paired with all of our plates. The pan de cristal con tomate was wonderful - the bread was crispy yet light, and the tomatoes were sweet and tart at the same time. The ratio between the ingredients was perfect.  We could've just eaten ten or twelve orders of that and left happy.  But the croquetas were also SO good - tender and deep-fried, but also really filling with the dark, deep rich iberico ham.  We actually left one behind because they were so filling.  But the espinacas (spinach) may have been our favorite dish.  Again, it had everything - it had some sweetness from the sherry vinegar and the raisins, crunch from the pine nuts and raw apple, and bitterness from the sauteed spinach.  SOOOOOOO perfectly yummy, I feel like I should be able to make it myself, because it's deceptively simple.  But the proportions have to be perfect, so I think I'll just wait until I get back to Jaleo again.  And there's no way I will wait another ten years.  We also stopped at a gelato place on our way back to our respective hotels - I got a combination of cinnamon and caradmom gelatos - really really good together.  Fragrant, rich and a little bit sweet from the cinnamon, it was a perfect ending to a fun evening with a fun friend.

You know, we do a writers conference every other year at my job, and I thought a conference with 70 sessions and 600 attendees was big.  Clearly, I had no idea what I was talking about. The conference I just attended had 12,000 attendees and 550 sessions! It was insanely enormous!  It was hard to decide which sessions to attend, since there were so many happening at the same time.  As a newbie, I made the mistake the first day of going to a session in every time slot, without finding time to eat or regroup.  That made for a really long day, beginning at 9am and especially since the keynote address didn't end until 10:30pm.  But being in rooms with so many passionate smart people was pretty invigorating and I think I learned a lot.  I was so inspired by the keynote speaker, Azar Nafisi - she was charming, delightful and she gave a funny yet rousing and poignant speech.  I've purchased a couple of her books since I got back and am looking forward to reading them. You should Google her, she's amazing.

One of the best sessions I went to was actually a reading of work by trans and gender nonconforming writers.  The three writers - one poet and two essayists - were all terrific. They did the readings of their own work and they were so talented, as both writers and readers.  Each piece was beautifully rendered, all so moving and touching, yet also with humor.  The poem on bathrooms was a rallying call to arms, yet so sad and scary; the short story that basically told a skewed version of the movie Pretty in Pink, with the Molly Ringwald character as trans; and the other short story about a camping trip was also just beautiful and true.  I'm so glad I went to the readings and I wish I had gone to more readings while I was at the conference.  There really is nothing like hearing an author read their own work - the authenticity is always staggering to me.

I bought a lot of books while I was at the conference - not only are there sessions going on, but there is also a bookfair, filled with hundreds of tables of publishers, editors, journals and other programming interesting to writers.  I bought some books at publishers' tables, I got a new Jane Austen mug (score!), and I got some swag for a handsome work pal who loves the Paris Review. One of the sessions I attended the first day was by a not-for-profit called Voice of Witness, which (according to their website) "promotes human rights and dignity by amplifying the voices of people impacted by injustice. Through our oral history book series and education program, we foster a more nuanced, empathy-based understanding of human rights crises."  Their session was amazing and I immediately wanted to buy all of their books, which are anthologies of the transcriptions of the oral histories.  So I kept going back to the bookfair, hoping to find someone from Voice of Witness at their table, but every time I went, the table was empty.  I will definitely be buying some of their books from their website, but it was disappointing not to be able to talk to someone and share how excited their presentation made me.  Oh well. 

From the important to the not-so-important: I also skipped an evening sessions one night so I could have dinner with yet another former co-worker.  He and his wife treated me to an amazing dinner at Convivial.  This was another small plates restaurant, but the food was more of a Mediterranean mashup. We were told by the delightful server that we should order two plates per person, which seemed like a lot of food (and it was - by the time plates five and six came out, we were pretty stuffed), but it was so nice to be able to try so much of their food in one outing. They have an enormous menu, so it took us a few minutes to decide our food direction, but once we decided, we were really happy. We ended up with escargot in a blanket, which were tasty, of course - very garlicky little snails in wonton wrappers; latkes with celery root and cured lamb - AMAZING; leeks dijonnaise, which were deliciously soft and mild and yet tart from the dijon mustard; socca, which from my Italy trip I knew meant chickpea flour pancake, topped with beets, oranges, shaved fennel and green olives - delicious, especially on the crispy socca edges, though I did feel like the beets could've used the tiniest bit more salt; pickled rockfish with watermelon radish, passionfruit, green papaya and avocado - good heavens, this was one of the most delicious blasts of acidic yumminess I've ever had! Wow, is what I kept saying as I was eating this. We also had 'main' courses of grilled durade, fried chicken served 'coq au vin' and braised rabbit with spaetzle, which was my second favorite dish of the night.  But, really, everything was so delicious, as was the sticky toffee pudding and maple ice cream we got for dessert. We didn't need dessert, but hey, when in Rome.  Or D.C.

I had a great time in D.C. - wonderful food, interesting work, fabulous friends who I don't get to see enough of.  I need to make that train trip a more regular stop on my magical tour...

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Preview Thoughts on The Glass Menagerie

I know that I have already mentioned, repeatedly, that The Glass Menagerie is one of my very favorite plays.  I adored the last Broadway revival with Cherry Jones (you can remind yourself of that review HERE.).  When I was just looking over that review, there were a few comments that stood out to me after seeing last night's newest revival.  I'll make mention of them below, though these thoughts won't go into too much detail because I saw an early preview - the show doesn't even open for almost a month. Although the script won't be changing, maybe other things will.  So I'll only talk about a few things, and, of course, there will be a robust mention of my seat neighbors, who could've been the worst group of people I've ever been surrounded by in a theater...

I'm a big fan of Sally Field, always have been.  I freely admit that when Norma Rae or Places in the Heart (or Murphy's Romance, for that matter) is on tv, I stop to watch.  I was lucky enough to see her in Albee's The Goat and I thought she was fantastic - I was actually pretty blown away by her.  She did Glass Menagerie at the Kennedy Center soon after that and I could kick myself for not going, everyone I know who saw it said she was wonderful. I'm also a big fan of Joe Mantello - his performance in the revival of The Normal Heart is one of the best I've seen. The fact that he's my age (ish) doesn't bother me at all for the character of Tom - it's stated right up front, at the top of the play, that this is a 'memory play.'  So, as far as I'm concerned, Tom (as the narrator) can be any age, as long as he gets the feel and the language right.  More on that later. I've also been very impressed with Finn Wittrock in the few shows I've seen him.  And, I was thrilled to read that they cast an actress with a disability as Laura.  I thought that would lend some real authenticity to the production.

Concept and staging spoilers are coming, so if you don't want to know how this revival is being presented, you should stop reading now.  You have been warned.

You should also be warned that there is only one line to enter the theater, whether you have your tickets already or not.  So if your tickets are at will-call, maybe arrive an extra couple of minutes early.  They seem quite committed to the 'no latecomers will be admitted/seated' policy.  I was also a little taken aback by the sign in the box office that said this revival is presented without an intermission.  I don't think I've ever seen the play in one act before, but ok. When I got to my TDF seat in the mezzanine, I was a little nervous to see just one cafeteria-style table on the stage, along with a smaller coffee table type thing. The rest of the stage was empty and we can see the blank walls of the back of the theater.  It looked like we were seeing a setup for a table read of the play.  Hmmm.  I just prayed this director wasn't going all Ivo van Hove on me (I think you can probably remember how unhappy I was with the Arthur Miller revivals that van Hove directed last season, though my opinion was the minority). That kind of production is rarely my cup of tea.

I found this photo, unattributed, on the 'net. I will remove if asked.
And, I'm sorry to say that this one wasn't completely my cup of tea either. Although this director did not completely strip Glass Menagerie of all context, there was very little to indicate time or place, which, hello, I think a Tennessee Williams play needs. This play is purposefully set before WWII, at a moment of great upheaval in the world and inside that St. Louis apartment. Having nondescript but contemporary sets and costumes just invites confusion, in my opinion.  Though, if I'm being honest, there were moments that I was completely and totally on board, that the poetry and lyricism in the language needed no adornment and I was thrilled as I so generally am at a production of this play.  So I guess I'm a bit torn about the production as a whole.

Where this play differs from my least-favorite recent van Hove, The Crucible, at least, is that this acting is superb.  All four actors are doing fantastic work.  At the moment, though, they're not necessarily doing it together or at the same time.  In my review for the last revival, I noted "...they are working as a unit and this production seems more an ensemble piece than usual." That is not the case with this current revival.  I'm thinking, though, with more performances under their belt, they will develop more chemistry and more of a cohesive whole.  There were moments of great chemistry and great openness, but it wasn't sustained throughout.  Of course, the strange cuts and transitions probably didn't help.

Joe Mantello is a truly world-weary, filled-with-regret Tom, and he brings wonderful shadings and irony to his line readings.  He had a nice rapport with the Gentleman Caller and you can see a tender rapport building between him and Laura, but it's not quite there yet.  Madison Ferris, as Laura, is making a fantastic Broadway debut.  She has muscular dystrophy and uses a wheelchair or is seated on the floor for most of the play - the ease with which she moves about her space is at odds with the unease of how she sees herself, and she is playing Laura with a clear-eyed strong, though flat, affect, in that she's the only realist in the play.  Tom and Amanda may talk about how Laura lives in her own world, but Laura is the dominant person in her own world and she calls the shots.  It's a different interpretation for me, but I really enjoyed it.  And watching her relax and getting into sync with Finn Wittrock's Gentleman Caller was such a pleasure.  The scene may have been less gentle and poetic, but more bald and stark.  It worked for me.  And Sally Field did not disappoint.  She was a funny, terrified, awful Amanda, all grasping hands and shouting at people as they walked away, but she was also tender and loving towards her children, underneath her fear.  I think that this ensemble will be amazing once they perform more together in front of an audience. And I will say that the affection they showed for each other at the curtain call moved me more than most of the play did.  Sigh.

Oh, but I hope they never have to perform in front of an audience like last night's.  Well, at least like last night's mezzanine audience.  How can I even begin?  The couple in front of me, who had clearly spent their Valentine's Day pre-theater time consuming lots of alcohol, were doing an Abbott and Costello routine for each other pre-show.  He asked her if she had ever seen the play before, she said no, he said it was one of his favorites, it's really funny. Then they proceeded to make out through much of the evening. The couple behind me, when they saw the slip of paper in their program that said there would be no intermission, were outraged that they wouldn't be able to leave at intermission.  So, ugh, this is what they did instead.  During the dinner with the Gentleman Caller, when the lights go out because Tom didn't pay the electric bill, the lights go out everywhere in the theater, too. While the characters were looking for matches for the candles on the table, for some reason, this couple (they were in the last row of the mezzanine) decided it would be the perfect time to get up and leave.  In the pitch black darkness.  And, I kid you not, one of them fell off the little step ledge into the aisle and the other fell over the back of the mezzanine railing!  There were yelps and thuds and the area around me was all abuzz with noise.  I guess the disturbance wasn't loud enough to reach the stage, but I still wondered if they would stop the show while all the racket was going on.  No. We all just missed the beginning of the Laura/Gentleman Caller scene.  Grrr.  Then, near the end of the show, during the quiet when Laura and Amanda are sobbing after Tom's exit, then Tom comes back in for his last, rueful monologue, someone's medical alert beeping kept going off. BEEP BEEP.  Then quiet.  Then Siri's voice saying, "I didn't get that."  Then people yelling at them to turn off their f*cking phone.  Then the people responding 'it's a medical alert!' Then BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP.  And I didn't really get to hear "blow out your candles, Laura," which really just ticks me off.

So maybe the horrible audience didn't help with my overall enjoyment of the play.  Maybe I would've liked it more if I were closer, since the play relies on the dialogue more heavily than usual.  I don't know, maybe I'll go back, which sounds stupid after my complaints. But I would like to hear the last lines, for pete's sake, and to see how the cast coalesces and I'd be really interested in getting closer to that different interpretation of Laura and seeing how it really works.  I'm so happy the producers gave such a wonderful opportunity to an actress who might not normally have it.  I'll be interested in hearing other's opinions as previews continue...

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Winter Restaurant Week 2017 - lunch #3

I'm a bit behind on the blogging, sorry.  I had to go out of town for a work event, and was swamped before I left, so I didn't have to time to blog before this.  I'll try to catch up with things over the next few days (I also saw a couple of shows recently and had two wonderful meals in D.C.)...

I happily squeezed in one more Restaurant Week lunch before heading out of town and I happily combined it with a happy birthday lunch for a handsome work pal.  Lots of happiness abounded.  I wanted to make sure the place I chose would make my handsome work pal happy, so I went with the old tried and true steakhouse.  But I chose a new, upscale steakhouse, to satisfy us both.

from Charlie Palmer Steak's website
After going to Aureole last year, I've been on the email list of all of Charlie Palmer's restaurants. He opened a new one, Charlie Palmer Steak, a while ago, but they just moved to the Archer Hotel on 38th Street two weeks ago.  I thought it would be a good choice for a birthday lunch. Our booth was rather close to the entrance, and in a corner; I did wish we were a little further inside because I couldn't really get a good look at the interior decor from where we were seated, but when I poked my head around the wall, everything looked modern and sleek, with strong navy colors and mirrors.  I would see a little bit of the exposed kitchen later...

Our server was a charming fellow and gave us a rundown of the dishes.  For the first course, I chose the braised short rib with a red wine reduction and parmigiano-reggiano cheese.  They make the pasta in-house and it is DELICIOUS! The pasta was dense and chewy, in a good way, and the short rib filling was so tender and meaty, it was terrific.  I also loved the deep flavor in the red wine reduction - it clearly had been reduced for quite a while because it was quite thick and potent.  It was a wonderful first course and I even had enough to share.

For my entree, I had a hard time choosing between the chicken and the fish, because both dishes sounded incredible, but our server told me the chicken is one of Chef Palmer's specialties, so I chose that.  I also was quite keen to try the polenta side dish.  So the dish is called truffled chicken, and it was served on top of the creamy polenta, with a mushroom fricassee, and surrounded by chicken jus.  Oh good golly, it was delicious.  The chicken was prepared first via sous vide (cooked in a water vacuum thing that always looks cool on Top Chef), and then sauteed to get deliciously crispy skin on top.  The chicken underneath that crispy skin was so tender and juicy, it was great.  I didn't get a lot of truffle flavor, which was ok by me.  A little truffle goes a long way.  The polenta was so rich and creamy, with maybe a hint of cheese?  SO yummy and contrasted beautifully with the chicken.  The mushroom fricassee was a terrific contrast as well.  It had a very dark, rich, meaty quality, and just a tad crispy, to offset the soft polenta.  This was really a great dish and I can see why it's one of Chef Palmer's signature dishes.

The server came out to chat with us during the main course and I mentioned it was my handsome work pal's birthday, because, hey, you never know.  Our server also mumbled something about the chef being in the kitchen today and everyone was on their best behavior.  I said, 'hello, wait, did you say CHEF PALMER IS IN THE KITCHEN RIGHT NOW?!?!' I admit it, I go fangirl crazy over great chefs.  So our server pretended to give me a tour of the dining room, said 'look at how nice our kitchen is and...oh, wow, is that the chef? Hey, meet the chef!'  Chef Palmer was very nice, shook my hand, asked me about my meal and other restaurants where I've enjoyed Restaurant Week.  I don't think I acted too crazy, but who knows?  It was a real treat, though, at least for me.  My handsome work pal was maybe the tiniest bit embarrassed.  :)

For dessert, I got the cheesecake "pudding" because I thought it sounded yummy and I also ordered it because my handsome work pal got the other dessert offering.  It's always nice to share the wealth.  Our very nice server also brought another special birthday dessert for my work pal, complete with candle and chocolate-sauce-scripted-happy-birthday.  It was very sweet of them to do.  Our desserts were both very good and I think if graham cracker crumbs were on top of anything, I'd eat it.

All in all, it was a terrific meal and I would be happy to go back and try more food at Charlie Palmer Steak.  I think my dad would like it - the food is tasty and the restaurant space isn't pretentious at all.  Thumbs up from me.  I already miss Restaurant Week and can't wait until the summer version comes my way...

Friday, February 3, 2017

Winter Restaurant Week 2017 - lunch #2

When reading through the list of new restaurants offering specials for Restaurant Week, I was thrilled to see that Chef Jose Garces' new restaurant downtown, Amada, was included.  I adore Chef Garces' Chicago restaurant Mercat a la Planxa, of which there are several reviews on my blog.  I was alerted to his new restaurant in Battery Park City last summer, but hadn't been able to get there yet.  Happily, yesterday was the day (and for Restaurant Week, yet)!

My boss also loved eating at Mercat, so I invited him to tag along to Amada.  It's a bit of a trek to get there, much further downtown and further west than I was expecting, but once we got there, all was well.  It's a lovely spot, very airy and warm, with a nice amount of banquettes and tables that make you feel cozy but not cramped.  We had an end booth, so there was extra space for coats and my handbag; that was nice.  The ceilings are very high, but the sound has a good hum, instead of a loud bounce.  And there was very pleasant Spanish guitar music playing in the background.  The ambiance was terrific.

The Restaurant Week menu is great - there are so many choices, it was hard to decide!  I couldn't decide if I wanted to go all-protein, or add salads, or just stick with grilled things.  Finally, since a tapas meal is served to share, my boss and I just chose different things that we could share and get to experience more of the menu.  For my appetizer, I got the tortilla espanol, which is one of my favorite things, an egg and potato omelet. Yum.  It was served with a delicious saffron aioli.  It wasn't my boss' favorite dish, but that was ok, I got more!  My boss chose the jamon croquetas for his appetizer.  Boy, were they good!  They were small, but stuffed full of ham and cheese, and served on top of an amazing romesco sauce.  SO good.

We could each choose TWO second course plates, which was like hitting the jackpot!  I picked the hangar steak a la planxa, served medium with a wonderful chimichurri sauce, and the garlic shrimp, served with toast points.  Extremely yummy, though I confess to liking the beef more than the shrimp.  My boss chose the chorizo a la planxa and a short rib dish, served on flatbread with horseradish, parmesan, and bacon jam. Jeepers, that was AMAZING.  Talk about having every taste sensation on one plate! Delicious.  The chorizo was good, too, charred and rich, but paled next to the short ribs.  I couldn't finish all my food because I wanted to save room for dessert, but boy was it all wonderful.

When we were ordering dessert, since there were only two dessert choices, we knew we would just each get a different one and share.  My boss wanted 'his' dessert to be the tocinillo de cielo, a heavenly something-or-other with egg cream, vanilla cake, orange meringue, and pistachio, and he wanted 'my' dessert to be the tarta de chocolata, a chocolate tart with cocoa sablĂ©e, coffee and chocolate cream.  They arrived, beautifully presented in small glass cups, but after my boss tried his tocinillo, he wanted to switch. He didn't enjoy the consistency of the orange meringue, whereas I found it incredible.  I was happy to switch. The bite I had of the chocolate tart was also yummy, but the tocinillo was, to me, perfection after that lunch.  The egg cream was rich, the vanilla cake wasn't too sweet and it got a little bit soft sitting in the custard, and the orange meringue was just one of the most delicious things ever, a little bit sweet and a little bit sour and the tiniest bit bitter from the orange rind shavings on top.  I loved it.

So thumbs way WAY up on Amada.  I totally want to go back - the food there is so good and the service so pleasant that it would be worth the cost to go even when it's not Restaurant Week.  Don't get me wrong, I was happy to pay a discounted price for that delicious meal, but it's worth way more.  Maybe for my birthday?  Hmmm.  And I think I may take my mom the next time she's in town...  Two more Restaurant Week visits for this go-round and I'm so looking forward to them both! I also have a couple of shows coming up, plus a trip to D.C. on the horizon, so you'll be hearing more from me soon.  :)