Oscar-Caliber Nosh

Movies are for popcorn, lots of yellow-oiled, oversalted puffed kernels in a bucket the size of a Freightliner with a side tank of Coke. And some Twizzlers and Goobers to chew on as the credits roll by while you try and figure out what the hell David Lynch's Mulholland Drive is all about. In this environment, anything more sophisticated than a Twizzler will tie your mind in knots.

But this is what Angelika Café, the restaurant attached to the Angelika Film Center in Mockingbird Station, does. It mucks your head with food. Not that this stuff would brain twist you under normal circumstances, but when it's combined with those movies...

In addition to a regular menu featuring entrées that could hold their own in most any midtier New American restaurant, there is a listing of things called screen bites, sort of the gourmand's version of Jujubes.


Angelika Caf

Take Angelika's scallops twined with pancetta for instance. Skewered scallops are tightly swaddled with Italian bacon, mixing mouthwateringly vivid brininess with delicate sweetness. There were also skewers of lemon chicken ingots that were as juicy as they were tasty.

Among other flick noshes are the Asian dumplings, firm, supple and greaseless pouches stuffed with pork (I imagine) with a ramekin of soy for sloshing. A pinch of greens was inserted in the center of the plate, providing visual interest for the eye as well as roughage for the being.

On the regular roster is a peculiar appetizer called garlic-stuffed fried olives. These kalamata-ish ovals were covered in a crisp golden casing that was virtually greaseless. But the garlic stuffing wasn't powerful, and at $6 the served portion worked out to a buck apiece; that's more than Raisinets.

Fortunately other offerings had a better price-to-joy ratio. A chicken breast folded over smoked gouda and bacon resting on a bed of Napa cabbage and apple was delicious. This made for a rich dish that was held in check by the tender cabbage leaves and the racy apple bits.

Shiitake mushroom risotto was creamy and smooth without being gluey, though it was perhaps slightly undercooked.

Grilled salmon lounging on a bed of spinach sopped with pesto was dense and moist, yet the cappelini haystack seemed cumbersome and extraneous.

The brisket slipped between a halved baguette was delicious with beef slices that were moist, chewy and lushly smoked. The only drawback was the application of "West Texas" barbecue sauce, which was stingy, leaving the bread relatively dry.

But dessert captured those loose threads of dissatisfaction and bound them in a warm knot of apple spice cake that waded in a puddle of rich caramel sauce. It offered a nice clean singed flavor that gave some backbone to its unctuousness. The only thing that could make this dish better is perhaps a dollop of Devonshire cream.

And maybe some popcorn. Just think what this little cafe could do with popcorn if it put itself inside the mind of David Lynch for a moment.


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