There are many new restaurants now, places I've been wanting to try. But first I head back to Lark. In the city where I grew up and where there are still restaurants who remember my parents but not me, Lark is the one place that is completely mine. I ate there several times with my parents, but after they moved to Taipei and I moved to the neighborhood, I started going alone, striking up conversations with one of the owners and all of the servers. I became a regular. One of these conversations led to the Whole Beast dinner one spring evening two years ago. That dinner led to more adventures beyond anything I could have imagined. My life as it is now began that night.
J. is late, stuck in traffic. The dining room is empty and quiet; white linens, dark wood, wineglasses gleam in the sunlight that streams through the front windows. I'm in one of the booths that run along the south wall of the restaurant, and as I wait for my friend I hear M. recite the specials. I hear the words "crispy trotter cakes" and my ears perk right up. J. arrives, and we order the crispy trotter cakes, along with several other dishes. We have a simple green salad, a plate of burrata with pine nuts, basil, fava beans, and the best croutons ever. I love burrata.
We have landjäger, a kind of cured sausage served with two kinds of mustards, and the main event, the crispy trotter cakes. The cakes have the perfect crunchy crust, all meltingly tender pork inside, with a luxurious foie gras sauce sprinkled with porcini mushrooms. I almost asked for more bread to mop up the sauce, but I am distracted by the rösti potatoes. I am glad J. is here with me. I would probably die if I tried to eat both trotter cakes by myself, and I only ever get burrata or rösti potatoes when I come here with other people. By now the dining room is full, and I am glad. The last year or two has been hard for the restaurant industry, and while new places seem to open every week so many other places have been struggling.
But for now, all the tables are occupied, and we are eating dessert. J. has Meyer lemon ice cream, and I have a rhubarb-rosé 'consommé' with coconut sorbet with pistachios and mint. It sounds improbable but turns out to be light and refreshing, and I love it.