Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sunday Night at Amis

 Egg Tripe

If I could do Amis over, I'd order like this:

2 "Verdure" plates or salad
1 pasta to share
1 dessert to share

It's not because the plates aren't affordable. They are blindingly budget-minded. It's because we incurred so much olive oil in each preparation that we were overly satiated. Puddles of it were left behind on each scene. Just how much does the kitchen go through?

I will say this now. Marc Vetri has one of the finest vegetarian-able restaurants in town, with Osteria. Don't let a first glance at the culinary contract there fool you. They are beyond capable of pleasing all diners. A meal there will usually fall in at well below $100 for two.

I expected Amis to be the lower-priced, lesser-dressed concept. It certainly feels that way. For two drinks, five dishes, two desserts, and two coffees, we came in at $84 without tip. Very reasonable. We would have had a similar, slightly less expensive meal at Osteria, however, and that remains our first Vetri choice.

Now, to the points of eminence.

I want to emphasize how casual this place is. Now imagine you take a relaxed atmosphere and overstaff it. Or staff it right, if you agree that there should be one person in the restaurant that is dedicated to replenishing flatware. And Collin is right, the water service is on point.

My Campari & grapefruit juce with basil, in a short, appropriate glass, made for a pleasant aperitif.  Out came eggplant caponata with charred bruschetta for a period of happy crunching.  For pasta, we decided on tonnarelli with pecorino and black pepper. They will gladly prepare the rigatoni with eggplant fries, without the fish. We split the plate of oil and cheese-entwined, precisely-cooked noodles. It was such a simple, complete dish that rose above everything else on the table. You absolutely should try this, although it is likely the most fattening thing you will eat all year.

For something inventive and completely bizarre, we continued with the egg "tripe": an omelet with bread in the middle and a sweet tomato sauce. Just you look at this thing. It would have been fatteningly fantastic dish of the year had we not decided that with the pasta.

Fried artichokes
The fried artichokes, which you can also partake in at Osteria, were executed well, yet set in a small ocean of oil and herbs. Unnecessary. I could take that oil home and use it for the rest of the week or my next set of savory blondies. I could.

The polenta with brown butter was very creamy, but came topped with what amounted to an inch of brown butter surfing above. All you taste is butter, which some people are more than okay with. I am not interested in much butter. I like a dab applied in the "here and there" route. People who put butter on their pancakes, after already cooking them in butter, need a new plan.

And even though I was harping on the oil (my god, it was EVERYWHERE) like I'd never eaten a fried falafel with fried egg and cheese before (I most certainly have), I still agreed to an olive oil torta with quince butter and whipped cream. I also sampled the chocolate/prune/pistachio salami for good measure. There are now two vegetarian chocolate salami in the city to choose from. One has figs, the other has prunes. Don't ask me to choose, I fully support them both. You go and love the pasta, enjoy the check, and put this on your list for occasional indulgences. I will be at Osteria admiring the vegetables.

Amis, 412 S 13th St.

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