By Amy McCarthy
By Scott Reitz
By Scott Reitz
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Alice Laussade
By City of Ate
The solution to the saline would have been another glass of wine. Tramontana has a nice variety of California whites and Spanish and Italian reds, all in the $30 to $90 per bottle range. Even another glass (or four) of water would have helped. But our waiter this night was also the maître d' and occasionally the busser of tables. When he wasn't taking orders, serving them or seating people, he was answering the reservation line that rang loudly at the bar. (Neel says one way he makes a profit is by keeping only six employees—three in the kitchen, three servers, not all of whom work nightly—on the payroll.)
Our tongues salt-swollen, we stumbled home and gulped directly from the kitchen tap.
A few days later, we do late lunch at Tramontana. A nearby table of dentists, all men, is offered the "special," made-from-scratch chicken and dumplings. When it's our turn to order, we're told the only special is seafood crepes. While the tooth jockeys tuck into their comfort food, we stare down at a plate of soggy pancakes wrapped around a gray mush of indistinguishable provenance (surely not the lobster and crab we were promised). The mess is swimming in a shiny pool of meunière sauce. Over that is a brown Amazon of cold balsamic vinegar. One bite and that's all she wrote. "I've been selling these all day, and everyone else loves it," says the waiter-maître-d'-phone-wrangler, jerking the plate off the table.
The replacement, a bowl of mushroom bisque, has the consistency of warm flannel but not as much flavor. The cold seafood salad—spring mix under a commercially prepared chili-mayo sauce—offers some satisfactory nibbles of lobster, crab and shrimp, but too many unpleasant intrusions by bits of shell. Like biting into fingernail clippings.
Promptly at 2 p.m., when lunch service ends and roughly 20 minutes into our meal, we are handed our check with no offer of dessert or coffee. We decide to find cupcakes and java at a nearby pastry shop, and we head out into the brisk winter breeze.
Tramontana, named for a north wind that blows into Italy, could use a breath of fresh air too.Tramontana 8220 Westchester Drive, 214-368-4188 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Tuesday-Friday (no lunch Saturdays), 5:30-9 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, closed Sunday and Monday. $$$$