Triangular pierogi stuffed with Yukon gold potatoes, leeks and goat cheese are curiously appealing and paired with a tangle of sautéed cabbage dosed with mustard oil. Lauren gets playful with Jidori chicken, which sports a pretzel stuffing. The boned bird is cut in medallions, the better to show off that bread stuffing. Pan-seared whitefish with brown butter is a good bet too, served with Brussels sprouts dressed up in a hazelnut vinaigrette.
There are occasional misses. Sonoma duck confit tacos with dried cherry mole sounds wonderful but comes off dull on the night I try them. And the grilled-cheese sandwich made with inch-thick slices of brioche is no improvement on the classic.
Come dessert, follow the crowd and have a Ding Dong. "House-made" makes all the difference. It's rich, dark and dense with a snowy heart of cream and a coating of high-quality bittersweet chocolate. There's a lovely blood-orange meringue pie to enjoy too. A flight of mini-cupcakes is pretty good, but the frosting is as tall as the cupcake. And while whoopie pie may be a fad, if the special pumpkin version sandwiching a thick wedge of cream cheese is any example, it's not going to be around long.