Part of me was surprised that on my second visit to Prix Fixe, a week after my first, every dish on the menu, save one item, was new. Many restaurants promise to change their menus frequently, yet few follow through so wholeheartedly. But this small, charming, date-destination of a restaurant is all about principles: The earnest waiter’s opening greeting included shout-outs to the CSA the restaurant subscribes to and the local artist whose photographs line the walls of the charming space. And the premise of the restaurant—three choices in each of three courses for $35, served at a leisurely pace from an open kitchen—comes across as a refreshing, clear vision of what neighborhood dining can be.
I would be lying, though, if I didn’t say I was not only surprised by the new menu but also relieved: I’d had two-thirds of the dishes on my first visit, and I wasn’t craving any of them again. Both the winter-vegetable stew (ladled both into and sort of around a pastry shell, the whole confounding thing topped off with a mound of parsley sprigs), and an overcooked fillet of whitefish with overcooked brussels sprouts, fell flat. Appetizers of potato soup—the highlight of which was crispy shallots on top—and risotto were well executed, but dull. The meal peaked with a hunk of blue cheese, one side of which is blow-torched. The visual result of this is a little crackly, caramelized edge; the trick is that it brings the whole hunk up in temperature in a way that coaxes maximum flavor out of the cheese.
Unfortunately, though the dishes changed for round two, the tenor didn’t: Mushroom ravioli packed impressive flavor into each pouch, but the consommé was oily and needed salt; the duck leg was crisp-skinned and tender, but the pasta carbonara was dry. And although I thought that only one dish—the blue cheese course—remained from the first menu, with the duck appeared those decimated brussels sprouts, a reminder that sometimes things can change but still be very much the same.
By Julia Kramer