Thursday, May 1, 2008

Thursday Quinn's.

I often wind up at Quinn's on Thursday evenings. They open for dinner at 5, which means I can swing by after Pilates for a burger or fish-and-chips or their gnocchi with oxtail before heading home. Already I have eaten there so often it seems like I could walk there with my eyes closed, find my way through the door, past the bar, to one of the tables downstairs or in the upstairs mezzanine. The menu is full of familiar things, the tasty homemade pretzel with cheese sauce, the wild boar Sloppy Joe. It feels like this wood-lined, airy space with large windows onto the street has stood on this street corner for as long as I can remember, even though it has only been about six months since my first dinner here. I wonder if I should try something new, or if I should go back to one of my old favorites. Then I notice the rabbit pot pie on the menu, and I feel myself waver. My server tells me that it is fantastic, and she is so enthusiastic I believe her.

The rabbit pot-pie arrives in a white ramekin on a long, rectangular plate, the pie capped with a biscuit that is like no other biscuit I have ever seen. Less like a biscuit and more like a golden puff of air. Sprinkled with sea salt, it dissolves into golden flakes as I bite into it, and I turn instead to the savory rabbit stew beneath. It is a little like the rabbit shepherd's pie I had at Lark recently (only at Lark the pie was topped with mashed potatoes instead of biscuit), the same creamy sauce that seems to have a little mustard in it, only here the rabbit is cut into chunks instead of shreds. I wish I had some bread to dip into the sauce, or perhaps another biscuit, but I am distracted by the baby vegetables arranged like a still life on the other side of the plate. There is a spear of asparagus and some cauliflower florets and baby carrots and what appear to be radishes, gently roasted until just crisp-tender.

Meanwhile the dining room has been filling up with other diners, steady regulars and newcomers, and the din rises, as it always does. I have finished my rabbit pie but don't feel like something sweet; instead I order a pretzel. I love their pretzels, soft and chewy, sprinkled with coarse salt and served with a cheesy beer sauce, or a beer-y cheese sauce. I break apart my pretzel and eat it, dipping each bite into the cheese sauce, listening to the different threads of conversations around me, invisible to others, tucked into my corner table. I have a book but leave it unread in my bag; I don't need it. I can be alone with my food, and be happy.

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