Thursday, August 18, 2011

Twenty Manning, part I

Upon the recommendation of AB, I made it a priority to check out Twenty Manning, a seemingly casual-but-upscale neighborhood spot on Twentieth Street just north of Spruce. A couple of weeks ago, I stopped in for a quick weeknight meal with AP for my first go-round.

I really like the vibe of the restaurant. It's got an appealing aesthetic, with lots of wood and white paint, straight out of a Restoration Hardware catalogue. And the menu covers all the new-American comfort food bases, from a small list of "snacks" (olives, fries) to complement the well-edited list of wines, cocktails, and beers to a range of burger options.

The meal started with some slightly unusual bread, warm (just out of the oven?) mini-baguettes tinged with caraway seeds. The bread is truly high quality, and though I'm not a rabid lover of the flavor of caraway, these were good enough to convince me to keep nibbling.

Best with some of their sweet butter

With the help of AP, we dove into the burgers head-on. He ordered the tuna burger, which comes with ginger-soy marinade and avocado-wasabi mayo. He enjoyed the burger, although he noted it could have used a bit more flavor from the marinade. The fries, however, which came in a portion bordering on "metric ton," were a huge hit-- crisp and thin and insanely, ridiculously addictive. Bring a fry-loving friend if you tackle the burger, because it's hard to eat that many fries on your own. (Note: Not impossible, but challenging.)

Burger dwarfed by mound of fries

My choice was the farmer's market beets with goat cheese, lavender honey, and aged balsamic. I was really looking forward to this dish (also on the recommendation of AB), and I was actually a bit disappointed that I didn't like it more. The beets were huge chunks of the red and yellow varieties, tender and flavorful, but their sheer quantity overwhelmed the other elements. After a while, eating a whole lot of beets just gets a little old... and even with the funk of the goat cheese and the tang of the balsamic, the dish was a little tiresome by the end. I'm also not the hugest fan of lavender in my food, and though this was surely not overpowering, I'd prefer non-lavender honey.

So many beets...

Based on first impressions, Twenty Manning was a solid three Offset Spatula joint-- casual, with friendly, accommodating service and decent, well-priced food. Would my second visit corroborate those impressions? Stay tuned...

Twenty Manning
261 S. 20th Street, at Manning

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