Dishes at an Exhibition

Lunch is more artful than dinner at trend-conscious Museum

They save the single best dish here for last: a heroic bowlful of blueberry-apple crumble, tart and homey and graced with cinnamon gelato from Dolce & Freddo. "Better than my mom's," I had to admit, feeling like a heretic. It was the kind of dessert that made the restaurant's art suddenly seem more tasteful, its flower-painted screen less garish, its killingly expensive, $7.75-a-glass cabernet not so run-of-the-mill. I could almost forget that our waiter had uttered the hideous phrase "Creamy Dreamy Heather" when touting Museum's house dessert drink.

The waitstaff, clad in the khaki shorts and blue shirts so pandemic this summer, is likewise of a sort that smoothes rough edges. "Needs lemon," I observed sotto voce to my dinner companion; to my astonishment, our preternaturally sharp-eared waiter promptly produced a dish of lemon wedges. At noon, a sweet, attentive young woman, overhearing a carelessly uttered joke about birthdays, pressed a free (and undeserved) birthday dessert on us. So what if she replenished our iced tea without replenishing our ice? She could do no wrong.

Even the perky young host effervescing so resolutely at the front door seemed more endearing than annoying. But the 40-minute upstairs wait for a Friday night table ("We don't take reservations, because we're just such a cozy, cute little place," enthused the voice on the phone) annoyed rather than endeared. Our spirits were not improved by truly wretched Pinot Grigio and hopelessly dated sofas of teal-colored leather. We speculated on the likelihood of this cramped, choppy piano bar becoming a '90s answer to Rascals, the late, great gay watering hole and upscale social mecca. Damned slim, we decided, the occasional ministrations of vocalist Cy Brinson notwithstanding.

Time has moved on, and like a lot of us, the Museum principals -- alumni of the Black Labrador and Savage's -- have not hit on the perfect formula for the moment in which we find ourselves. From our second-story perch, we watched diners gathering on the pretty patio in the thickening dusk. The darker it grew, the more brightly the scene was illuminated, until finally the harsh truth dawned: this tropical terrace, which should have been so sybaritic, was lit by that high-security urban talisman known as the sodium vapor lamp.

Museum, 1512 W. Alabama, 524-7676.

tuna steak sandwich, $6.95; Southwestern Caesar salad $4.95; stuffed grilled chicken breast $10.95; blueberry-apple crumble, $6.00.

« Previous Page
My Voice Nation Help
Sort: Newest | Oldest