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We also devoured the fried zucchini sticks ($6), salty, light as gossamer, with a sour-cream/horseradish dipping sauce. Sublime tequila-grilled shrimp and corn cakes were pricey at $12, particularly since the dish comes with just three flavorful, fat shrimp perched on the corn cakes. But it's still enough for a light meal and would make a full dinner accompanied by a salad. The corn cakes are buttery beyond belief; with the bright tomato salsa, the chipotle, and a bite of the briny shrimp, they'll send warm prickles of gustatory pleasure down your spine.
A palate-clearing caesar salad ($8.50) followed. Crisp, refreshing, balanced -- yes. We couldn't detect the "roasted garlic and goat cheese" in the croutons; still, the parmesan was indubitably the real Reggiano. But sometimes a salad is just a salad.
We had only raves for our entrées, which even during encores the next day, eaten cold, never made a misstep. There was that lobster quesadilla ($27) and the night's special, a "wild" Tasmanian salmon ($26) simply poached in white wine and butter, nestled in a bed of sautéed spinach and served with slim, crunchy green beans and broccolini. The fish's bright, deep-pink flesh was a far cry from the usual pallid, farm-raised American version. Tasmania has a solid salmon-farming industry; the fish is healthy and complexly flavored due to the country's unpolluted waters.
The yellowtail snapper, crisply pan-seared with roasted peppers, garlic, tomatoes, wild mushrooms, and ginger ($24), is a long-time favorite with Armadillo denizens. It was melt-in-your mouth fresh, lightly crusted, divine. So were sliced rounds of leg of lamb ($28) served pink and tender as filet mignon, with just a hint of the grill's smokiness and the echoes of a rosemary marinade, plus a quartet of sides: mashed potatoes, baby green beans, broccolini, and a tiny heart of baby bok choy. A good lamb is hard to find; this one didn't put a hoof wrong.
You pretty much have to try the chocolate fritters ($6.50) for dessert. These lively little buggers, dusted with cinnamon, squirt a couple of tablespoons of liquid dark chocolate when you fork them -- they'll keep you up half the night on that cocoa buzz, so plan your activities accordingly. An apple tart served with vanilla ice cream ($6.50) was more bombshell than we expected: like an apple cobbler, gooey on the bottom, crunchy on top, with cinnamon crumble. If you expected credit for choosing a "healthy" dessert, forget about it.
We haven't had a better meal in many, many months. We figure once word gets out, we'll need some combination of luck and daring to snag a table. So if you need to get hold of us over the next couple of weeks, we're the ones doing the marathon at the corner table over there. Could you pass that triple order of fried goat cheese?