Inside this tiny neighborhood restaurant, tucked discreetly in the back of the shopping center at Midway Road and Northwest Highway, regulars enjoy meals that are more special, and often more affordable, than snazzier, jazzier establishments. The list of starters and salads is so magnificent it’s nearly impossible to choose; you could easily make a meal from the left side of the menu. Kobe beef carpaccio—ruby red, paper-thin slices of meat that melted on the tongue—made a bang-up starter, with a surprising sprinkling of crispy fried onions and a miniature mound of sliced avocado. A Southern favorite, fried green tomatoes, had a European spin, thanks to a spoonful of sweet, homemade marinara and shaved Spanish manchego. Spicy arugula, cooled by dollops of French herbed goat cheese, was dressed up with toasted almonds, teeny champagne grapes, and lemon-coriander vinaigrette. Although we adored the rosy, tender lamb chops, made all the more memorable with a zucchini and feta cake sporting a panko crust spiced with cumin, paprika, and tumeric, which gave it a fantastically crunchy, falafel-like feel, the best bite of the night was the star anise and Szechuan pepper-rubbed tenderloin. Its light, bright chiffonade of hearts of romaine, mint, cilantro, sweet red onion, and red and green bell pepper had a spicy-salty-sweet thing going on, thanks to wasabi vinaigrette, soy gastrique, and trebbiano (a white grape) glaze. All that plus a beautiful bottle of Estancia Meritage and knockout service from a handsome, laid-back waiter. With a restaurant this good, prices in the neighborhood are bound to rise.

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