Restaurant Reviews

Modern life

Modern is a funny word. As soon as you call something "modern," it seems quaint. The Jetsons were "modern"; so was the transistor radio.

In the last century, John Kellogg had "modern" food ideas--he invented breakfast cereals to support his creed of regularity at all costs. Health at the expense of taste is a great American tradition, because underneath it all, we're Puritans.

Dot, Modern Food, Inc. represents the current modern ideas about food: low-fat, high-vitamin, fresh, lean. Or you could say these are the ideas about modern fashion. They're sort of the same.

Food and fashion mingle at Dot, anyway, in a most modern way--it's a high-tech self-serve by the health club at the Centrum and could easily be a setting in Logan's Run, speaking of quaint and modern.

I know I'm a grumpy old anachronism, but a menu divided into "liquids" and "solids" is too literal for me. So it's hard for me to review Dot, Modern Food without bias. It's a modern idea, but I'm not altogether a fan of food for fitness' sake.

I mean, I know technically that's why we eat, but can't you take this idea too far?

Given that you can, isn't a milkshake (with no milk) made of orange, pineapple, ginger, and spinach taking it too far?

I was skeptical, but the server told me you didn't taste the spinach. She was right--and ginger and pineapple juice taste good together--but presentation is something, after all, and this drink (the "Ben Gay") looks like something that Linda Blair might produce. It should at least be served in an opaque glass. The "Aquamelon" was tasty, too, and lots prettier, though the watermelon and pineapple juices tended to separate like a science experiment without constant stirring.

Anyway, Wylie McAnallen, chef-owner of Dot, knows good food. A respected private chef and co-founder of Cafe Society, she's got an eye on the taste level for every item. So if you're a believer, Dot will surely be heaven.

I, for one, was reassured to find some Diet Coke in the cooler, along with spring water. And some gum alongside the energizing ginseng concoctions (if someone could just discover organic amphetamines) next to the register.

Our food mostly did taste good, too, though we found some things a trifle bland--possibly they had been seasoned sufficiently, but fat is a flavor-carrier, and it could be that our palates are too decadent to receive a purer message.

The grilled chicken breast--juicy and warm--had been fanned out over assorted steamed veggies and pasta twirls, which seemed to need salt or cheese. Mozzarella panini held bright, fresh, licoricey basil leaves with slices of cheese and roma tomato between the cheeks of a crusty whole-wheat roll. I asked for olive oil, but the sandwich was barely slicked.

Turkey sandwiches are made with "real" sliced turkey, not the processed, watery kind; vegetables are fresh, and you can taste virtue in every bite. Even the chips are baked, not fried.

This was a good, light lunch, the kind that would allow you to go back to work and be productive. You might even have enough energy to slip into something Lycra and work out before dinner.

Call me totally un-modern. I missed my fat. We left--in search of real ice cream.

--Mary Brown Malouf

Dot, Modern Food, Inc., 3102 Oak Lawn (in the Centrum, on the fourth floor.) 522-4191. Openturd Monday-Thursday 7 a.m.-8 p.m., Friday 7 a.m.- 3 p.m., Saay 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

Dot, Modern Food, Inc.:
Mozzarella panini $3
Grilled chicken breast platter $6.50
Ben-Gay Combo Drink $


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Mary Brown Malouf