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.
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.)
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.
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...
261 S. 20th Street, at Manning