There’s this exchange in DeLillo’s Americana:

“Do you think I’m handsome?”

“Yes,” she said.

“Do you want to know if I think you’re pretty?”

“Okay.”

“I think you just miss,” I said.

Ditto, Tastes. Hit the uptown branch last night with Beth Partin to be moderately charmed & mildly chagrined by turns, for pretty much the same reasons I go back & forth between digging & deriding the Village Cork. Like its fellow wine bar & self-styled bistro, it’s got quaint looks & quietude on its side. It boasts an eclectic, ever-evolving & not-at-all-expensive selection of wines by the glass—although why, amid all the much-appreciated tasting notes, the list omits vintage is beyond me—& affable folks to serve them. My Fleur de Cap pinotage was indeed lighter than a pinot and deeper than a cinsault; I certainly enjoyed pretending I could tell that the Can Blau blend of carignan, grenache & syrah offered hints of cedar, minerals & baking spices; & I especially liked the carménère, which was apparently violet. Or so I wrote down, period, being rather rosy at that point myself.

But as at the Village Cork, the hors d’oeuvres tend to look a little more like afterthoughts in person than they seem on paper.  Take the serrano ham–wrapped, brie-stuffed dates with balsamic “cream”:

Tdates

It’s a minor quibble that the advertised cream is in fact a reduction; it’s a bigger quibble that deglet noors are just like the cockroaches to the grand tarantulas that are medjools. Bigger, richer, moister dates would have struck a greater contrast to the ham & given the cheese a tad more room to assert itself.

Actually, the stand-alone cheese we selected was, but for the generous portion, likewise underwhelming; honestly, I can’t recall what it supposedly was—a Pierre Robert? a Brillat Savarin? one of those named for some French joker at any rate, the description of which read as though it was studded with bits of strawberry, which it was, if by that we agree to mean just accompanied by cranberries instead. It was also a bit on the dry side, enough so that it seemed a lesser imitation of its type, which is probably why I’m forgetting what that type was exactly.

Tcheese

As for the meatballs with Belgian curry sauce & pineapple,

Tmeatballs

they were actually a treat, the curry sauce being unexpectedly almost honey-mustardesque—but, really, Dole tidbits? If fresh pineapple might be too overwhelming—& it might—how about incorporating a little bit of candied pineapple or even pineapple juice into the meatballs themselves? Or, you know, just letting the pineapple idea go altogether? The canned stuff just smacks so hard of dessert with grandma at the nursing home.

Speaking of smacking, however, the duck liver pâté really was, lipwise. Whether or not it was housemade wasn’t clear, but its quality was, on the mild side but creamy & smooth as could be.

Tpate

Never knowing when enough is enough until afterward, I talked poor Beth into joining me to meet the Director for a nightcap in the upstairs lounge at India’s Pearl, which turned into an afterdinner (you know, like an afterparty, only more belly-distending). While the Director had his usual lamb vindaloo—which happened to be especially, wonderfully on fire last night—I opted for the excellent malai kofta,

IPmalaikofta

really just about the most comfortingly rich rendition of fried potato-paneer-nut–raisin-et cetera patties in creamy curry ever.

And believe you me, some comfort was in order under the circumstances that were one-man karaoke night—the one man being our server, who pretty much tended to the 3 of us, namely his entire audience, between Gwen Stefani numbers. Straight out of some would-be Cassavetes, I tell you.