Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Let's eat: Tiara Cafe

Tiara Cafe, the most recent project from Fred "62" Eric, has something for everyone: for me, stylish interior and salad/sandwich menu that isn't run of the mill; for L, today's lunch companion, pastry.

L is the kind of person who reads the dessert menu before she decides on an entree...and bases her selection on how much room she needs to leave for dessert. She is not the only person I know who does this. So far as I know, none of them are yet seeking professional help.

So L ordered a "Fresh'wich": grilled shrimp, apple, papaya, and greens wrapped in rice paper (says the menu, although the waiter mentioned soy. Hmm.) Notwithstanding the questionable use of an apostrophe, L was happy with her choice, which came with a nuoc mam based dipping sauce, a very green sauce, perhaps full of cilantro.

While reserving the right to order dessert, I don't hold back on the main course. Oh no. I had what essentially aimed to be a Cuban sandwich, or media noche, made with duck, which the menu bafflingly describes as "Press'wich with smoked and roasted duck media noche" -- oh no, there's that apostrophe again. But calling it a whatever-wich AND a media noche, is rather like calling them "The La Brea Tar Pits", n'est-ce pas?

OK, enough semantics: How was the damn sandwich? Great: the "smoked" duck is better known as duck pastrami, and the roast duck was tasty, as well; the cheese was Monterey Jack, which melts well. One quibble: the menu mentioned "jalapeno butter pickles," which would have made this a proper Cuban sandwich -- not quite proper, but in the neighborhood. But...my "Press'wich" lacked pickles! Somehow I managed to consume all of this largish and, to be honest, rather caloric sandwich.

My iced tea came with a glass, lemon, and a full wine bottle of tea, a nice touch for someone like me who likes to refill her glass when she feels like it, thank you very much. Likewise, my water-swilling companion got her own bottle of the local product, straight from the tap.

And all at once, time for dessert. L ordered the berry cobbler, which comes a la mode, and BARELY offered to share with me. She was obviously planning on hosing it all down herself. So I got her. I ordered my own cobbler. For several minutes after dessert arrived, the table was silent, the only sound the scrape of our spoons on the ceramic plates. All was well.

Tiara Cafe's motto is "Eat healthier more often and diet less." Well, yes, but there's also a burger on the menu, and fries as well (those are for the next visit). It's a good fresh menu, including prepared salads, take-out, and delivery. Tiara Cafe is in the New Mart Building (it's labeled as such; even I, a total spazz downtown, found it) on Ninth Street between Main and Los Angeles. Street parking or find a lot.

Verdict: I plan to go back for the burger and who knows what else; L is clearly anticipating a long-term relationship with the dessert menu. And I am available to discuss punctuation marks with Fred Eric whenever he has time.

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