Why can’t I get past the starters at The Kitchen (see also here, here)? It isn’t because the mains don’t appeal—given half a chance I’d bathe with chargrilled mackerel in cumin yogurt & chimichurri & towel off with a flank steak, being sure to get the onion-anchovy gratin between my toes. It isn’t because I mean to eat lightly—that would be a tad self-delusional at this point, eh? I’m not entirely sure wherein the answer lies, but I’m sure I don’t care so long as the excellent small plates keep coming.

Okay, I’m fudging the answer slightly in the case of my most recent meal there—due to a snafu involving poor friend Mo & Project Angel Heart’s Dining Out for Life 2009, some of the apps I snarfed (& she, rightly bummed out, long story, merely picked at) actually came compliments of the chef-owner. But not all of them: the salmon rillettes with pickled onions & grilled bread, for instance, were my own smart call.

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Made with, if I’m not mistaken, lightly smoked salmon, the chunky spread was way funky—piscophobes beware. Me, I got down with every last schmear.

The freebie that followed, a special that evening, was basically your classic bistro salad—frisée + Dijon vinaigrette + poached egg—but with pieces of what I believe was the same salmon as appeared in the rillettes in lieu of of the usual lardons, along with big cubes of new potato.

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Since I’d already had my share of salmon, meanwhile, I focused more on the bowl of roasted veggies drizzled with tahini-tempered harissa—a rootsier rendition, what with parsnip, carrot & red onion, of the vegetable antipasto I’d had once upstairs.

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The same basic sauce formed a broth, sprinkled with just-wilting baby spinach & parsley leaves, for the housemade lamb sausage—which, evoking North African merguez (albeit in milder, juicier fashion), was along with the rillettes my fave of the eve.

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Although, if I had a sweet tooth the size of my savory…what? way past tooth, pretty much my whole mouth—the amazingly light, fresh, hot, sugar-sprinkled funnel cake à la mode would probably have taken the cake. When a cake takes the cake, what happens? Does it enter the 4th dimension or something?

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If you’re thinking, hey, that’s dessert, not a starter—says you. With another inch of room in my tum, I’d have followed it right up in the app roster with those creamed mushrooms on toast in truffle vinaigrette. Next time.

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