One2One: You Can't Please Everyone.
Our server knew something was wrong at five paces.
"A little too much whipped cream?" he asked with an ambiguous smirk that either indicated he thought we were fools for chancing another course after a disappointing meal or he'd grown accustomed to the kitchen's clumsiness. In any case, he was right about the whipped cream, from which we'd tried to liberate a sundae that was supposed to showcase caramel sauce and shards of fudge brownies.
As we discovered too late, the hurricane glass was crowned with more runny whipped cream than the coffee saucer we'd designated as a dump point for the sugary stuff could possibly contain. Three solid inches of whipped cream became an unappetizing puddle on the table, pooling around the plate's edges.
Beneath the mess of whipped cream, One2One had assembled a fairly decent sundae. But, like all of the Frisco restaurant's most accomplished cooking, it was completely obscured by what the kitchen presumes people want. The whipped cream, the Chilewich-style woven place mats and the lily-livered menu all bespeak an eatery that could have been public-opinion polled into existence.
If the restaurant's generic pall is a cynical calculation, that's disheartening, but if the thoroughly predictable restaurant really signifies the realization of one man's dream, that's heartbreaking.
The man behind the enterprise is Jeff Moschetti.
The standard Hollywood narrative holds that when an artist is finally freed from having to take a boss' orders, he'll strike back with something wildly creative. Remember the scene in Dirty Dancing when the resort owner's son tells Patrick Swayze's character he'd like to do something different with the end-of-season show? Swayze's character is thrilled: He shows the college kid a few provocative steps. His imagination's moving faster than his tongue. But it turns out all the higher-ups had in mind was the pachanga.
So Moschetti's chosen to dance the pachanga. I might wish he'd done something more daring, but that's my personal preference, and one that the office parties and extended families who patronize One2One obviously don't share. They're seeking a restaurant where everyone can find something to eat and it's an easy walk from the front door to a comfy brown leather booth. Maybe providing such a place is the stuff of some chefs' dreams. Who am I to judge?
What I can judge is the quality of the food, which is mostly non-objectionable, with only a few lamentable exceptions. Although I didn't sample anything I couldn't find somewhere else, I had a few dishes I'd willingly order again, including a hearty set of wild-game sausages.
The word "house made" appears just twice on the menu at One2One (which, by the way, swiped its name from the nearby state highway, not a Bell Biv Devoe undercard, as one of my guests theorized). The kitchen claims total responsibility for the avocado ranch dressing on the Cobb salad and the mustard served with the sausage, tacitly suggesting everything else originates elsewhere.
When I asked after the sausage, my server spoke glowingly of the mustard, confirming it was mixed in-house, but he didn't have a clue as to who had made the sausage; after a lengthy consultation with the manager, he returned with the news that the sausage was house-made too. While the condiment—a coarse and pungent paste of vinegar and mustard seeds—was OK, the venison and jalapeño sausages were especially satisfying. Trisected and prettily arranged on the plate, the sausages were meaty and well-seasoned. Although they're offered as an appetizer, the sausages are more assertive and engaging than anything I found on the entrée menu: A meal could easily be made of the sausages, a green salad and glass of red wine.
Then again, a salad might be the unsolvable variable in that particular equation. A Caesar salad, finished with white anchovies, arrived standing upright in a sort of flower pot, but its flavors weren't nearly as pronounced as the presentation promised. The paddles of romaine were wilted and the croutons were bland. An arugula salad featured a sloppy collision of sweetness, its pomegranate vinaigrette jostling up against discs of grilled pears. The fruit did little to offset the heaviness of the cheese that was smeared all over the dish; while the menu lists the featured cheese as a ricotta salata, a dried sheep's milk cheese that's similar to pecorino, it appeared the kitchen had pounded our arugula with soft chevre.
One2One serves two soups: One changes according to the chef's fancy, but the smoked chicken and corn is a fixture. Good thing. The tomato broth is sheer and bright, hazy with just the right amount of smoke. Garnished with diced avocado and a nest of crisp tortilla strips the width of spaghettini, the soup's a lovely starter.
It's very, very hard to resist ordering a pizza. That's because Moschetti has made a fiery brick pizza oven the centerpiece of his open kitchen. Guests assigned to the kitchen bar must involuntarily order two or three pies as soon as they're seated. Human brains have been trained since Paleolithic times to associate flames with deliciousness.
Our hairy ancestors may not have understood this, but that's not a fail-safe proposition. The pizza I had at One2One was a sad affair with a floppy, white flour crust that buckled under a thick coating of rubbery cheese. Perhaps the pizzas topped with smoked shrimp and pesto or grilled chicken and caramelized onions—there are four varieties in all—come across as slightly swankier; the four-cheese pie tastes processed and dowdy.
There's a fair amount of economical repurposing on One2One's menu: There's a ginger beef entrée and an appetizer of ginger beef spring rolls. Since I had liked a starter of chopped pork sliders served on soft Hawaiian rolls, I was eager to try the ribs, which I assumed were the source for the sandwich meat. The ribs were excessively coated with an achingly sweet tomato-based sauce that even a vinegar-rich slaw couldn't cut. An accompanying side of fries was forgettable.
The stars of the turf section—prime rib and beef tenderloin—had an institutional flavor that jibed with their uninventive plating. A cool and chewy prime rib was joined by ivory-hued hash browns and a medley of undistinguished greens. The ginger-singed tenderloin, made mushy by too much marinating, came with a few limp tentacles of broccolini and a pile of potatoes whipped to the consistency of marshmallow cream.
A halibut was nicely cooked, although it was encrusted in salt. The fish, erected in a pool of cream and truffle oil, suffered primarily from undercooked garnishes: Raw purple onions eclipsed the mild halibut, while too-firm potatoes in a supporting corn hash posed a textural distraction.
Still, there are a good number of diners out there who just want meat and potatoes—and don't much care if said taters are too soft or too hard. I genuinely hope those eaters are very happy at One2One, and that Moschetti's happy to be giving them what they want.
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