Menu Please: View 202 – All That Glitters is not Gold

Not everyone loved the old Hatch Cover Restaurant, but it held a warm place in Femme de Joie’s heart from many get-togethers with family and friends over the years. She loved the retro-70s vibe with the piped-in Pablo Cruise-y music, the cozy sofa nook in the lounge, that weird painting of the man in black heading down the stairs in the lighthouse, the cute waiters in Hawaiian shirts, even the cherry-scented liquid soap in the ladies’ room. The food wasn’t haute cuisine, to be sure, but it was competently prepared and great value for money. (There was a Chico branch of the Hatch Cover too, set so far back from the Esplanade that it was barely noticeable under the trees.) It just about broke M. de Joie’s  heart ten years ago when she drove past the old Hatch Cover and saw all that lovely wood from the interior broken and tossed into dumpsters like worn-out holey socks.  After a series of unfortunate and untoward events, the late Rivers opened and closed two years later; in 2012, Redding restaurant empresario Joe Wong opened View 202 on that spot.

Clearie’s, Moonstone Bistro, Nello’s Place, Cafe Paradisio, Market Street Steakhouse, Peter Chu’s, Gironda’s, and View 202, among others, all compete for the diner looking for that special occasion restaurant. What is that special something, that je ne sais quoi, that makes the consumer choose one place over another?  Is it the buzz, the bartender who knows your special drink, the dark corner where a discreet affair can be carried out, the salad dressing? With the demographics and population of Redding, a place like View 202 needs to set itself apart from the others, to court consumers seeking white-tablecloth occasion dining. But are they getting their money’s worth?

Femme de Joie enjoys a well-appointed restaurant interior as well as a kitschy one, but she can’t figure out what’s going on at View 202. It was as if three or four decorators were each given a section to work on – a white wall splashed with big blowsy flowers befitting a ladies’ tearoom; the patio’s mishmash of black wicker chairs, white plastic chairs, and red and purple sofas; an ultra-modern exterior; plain faux-granite tabletops, concrete floors, and Ikea-inspired hanging lights. It appears to have been inspired by Carnival Cruise Line ships, not to dis Carnival.

Ahi avocado burger and cup of Pismo Beach clam chowder, $15.00

When Femme de Joie orders a burger, she expects to get, you know, a burger. She would not have described this as a burger. Four thin slices of ahi – a meaty-textured fish – were seared rare and placed on a rather good brioche bun along with an extremely small fan of thin avocado slices.  The wasabi-lime slaw was overwhelmingly bitter;  a couple of black soy beans does not an aioli make. Other than the bitter slaw and the buttery brioche, this was one bland sandwich.

Femme de Joie doesn’t know what distinguishes Pismo Beach clam chowder from any other creamy clam chowder, though perhaps it was the lump of melted cheese she found glommed onto the bottom of the soup cup. The soup was on the thin side but the cheese was on the thick side, so it balanced out.

Cherry Tart, $5.00

On a visit for dinner, M. de Joie asked if she could sit and have a drink before dinner. The hostess offered her “the couch.” Where couch? Outside, inside? It turned out to be on the patio, as there were Happy Hour specials “on the couch,” though it wasn’t clear if those specials could be had not on the couch. The hostess seemed determined that the couch should be occupied.

Once M. de Joie had her Cherry Tart, described as a whiskey sour with fresh cherries (the Maraschino cherry didn’t qualify as fresh and there weren’t any other cherries in the glass), she became invisible for an hour. Other than one waitress asking if she would like to order a bar snack, M. de Joie was completely ignored. While Femme de Joie is of that age where she is passed over in favor of younger and hotter women, it seemed a bit remarkable how completely she was forgotten. Eventually she had to get up and go find the hostess to ask to be seated for dinner, who began preparing a place for her on the by-then chilly patio- which M. de Joie demurred in favor of a table indoors.

Warm bread came with herb olive oil made with celery, basil, parsley, and capers as described by the female waitstaff who filled water glasses- she said she made it. The oil was delicious, the bread average.

Maseca calamari, $13

Spicy Fresno chilies and the medium-hot sauce were the best things about this appetizer. While the breading was evenly cooked, the calamari strips were floppy, not crisp, and on the oily side.

Steak frites, $19.00

When food processors became popular in the late 1970s, purees suddenly appeared on every plate. Purees of turnips and zucchini, carrot and beet, potatoes and apple. It was part of the nouvelle cuisine movement, which happily disappeared quickly as diners realized they didn’t particularly care for baby food on their plates.  Remember Nora Ephron’s great line, “Pesto is the quiche of the ’80’s”? Sous-vide appears to be the food processor of the 2010s. Sous-vide is translated as “under vacuum” but might be better described as “in a boiling bag.”  It’s the darling of certain modernist chefs but to Femme de Joie, it’s an annoying fad that will eventually wind up on garage sale tables alongside Bacon Bowl makers, Taco Salad Shell makers, and Salad Shooters.

So: The steak did not appear to be grilled; it appeared to be cooked sous-vide with grill marks added later. While sous-vide ensures an extremely tender steak, it also eliminates the flavorful crisp and seasoned browned exterior – the Maillard reaction.  The interior is one uniform color – here, pink (M. de Joie ordered it cooked rare) – and one uniform mouthfeel (soft). However, with the fatty, enveloping coat of butter – not just a melting pat, but a cold cream-like swath – any exterior browning was completely smothered. Limp shoestring potatoes were so salty with Parmesan and bacon that even a salty-food addict such as M. de Joie couldn’t get through them.  Described on the menu as “grilled bistro fillet, crispy pancetta and brown butter sauce atop a mountain of Parmesan shoestring fries,” this was a far cry from the simple and superb steak frites served in even the meanest French bistro.

Smoked corned beef sandwich with chopped starter salad, $13.00

House-smoked corned beef was smoky but also very dry and fibrous. Combined with bacon-braised sauerkraut and aged white cheddar, it made for an unpleasantly salty sandwich.  A very small chopped starter salad served in an even smaller bowl was awkward to stab with a fork but freshly made and crisp.

Side of macaroni and cheese, $6.00

M. de Joie liked the intense Cheddar taste of the macaroni and cheese; though it was a little watery when first served, the sauce thickened upon standing to cling to al dente pasta.

What to say about View 202? The view is nice from the patio. Waitstaff was mostly helpful and friendly (though it bugs M. de Joie when she asks a question and gets, “Uhhhh, I’m not really sure….” Just say you don’t know, then go find out). But the food misses the mark – so much and so often so that she felt it was a waste of good ingredients as well as overpriced for the end result.

Speaking of overpriced: an uninspired glass of Markham Sauvignon Blanc (year unknown; why isn’t the year on the wine list?) cost $9/ $32 for a bottle, yet BevMo sells it for $10.99. Alexander Valley’s Redemption Zinfandel was a much better wine but View 202 priced it the same as the Markham; Wine.com sells the 2012 for $12.99.  Even more shocking, $14 a glass for Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling, available at BevMo for $6.99 a bottle. If you want to bring your own wine, View 202 charges $18 corkage (compared to $12 at Nello’s Place and $15 at Clearie’s and Moonstone Bistro).  Femme de Joie has nothing against restaurants making a profit – that is why they’re in business – but she does object to blatant gouging.

Obviously Femme de Joie is missing whatever View 202’s fans see in it. She has no problem with spending money in high-end restaurants if the product is worth the price, but she doesn’t see that value at View 202. She might have a glass of iced tea on the patio, but she’ll eat elsewhere.

View 202, 202 Hemsted Drive, Redding, CA 96002. 530-226-8439. Serving lunch, dinner, and Sunday brunch. Open Monday through Thursday, 11:00 AM to 10:00 PM,  Friday and Saturday, 11:00 AM to midnight, Sunday 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM. Cash and cards. Parking lot. Vegetarian and vegan options. Full bar. Website at http://view202redding.com/
Femme de Joie’s first culinary masterpiece was at age 4, when she made the perfect fried bologna sandwich on white bread. Since then she has dined on horse Bourguignon in France, stir-fried eel in London, and mystery meat in her college cafeteria, but firmly draws the line at eating rattlesnake, peppermint and Hamburger Helper. She lives in Shasta County at her country estate, Butterscotch Acres West. She is nearly always hungry. Visit MenuPlease for more or send her an email at femmedejoiefood@yahoo.com.

A News Cafe, founded in Shasta County by Redding, CA journalist Doni Chamberlain, is the place for people craving local Northern California news, commentary, food, arts and entertainment. Views and opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of anewscafe.com

Femme de Joie
Femme de Joie's first culinary masterpiece was at age 4, when she made the perfect fried bologna sandwich on white bread. Since then she has dined on horse Bourguignon in France, stir-fried eel in London, and mystery meat in her college cafeteria, but firmly draws the line at eating rattlesnake, peppermint and Hamburger Helper. She lives in Shasta County at her country estate, Butterscotch Acres West. She is nearly always hungry. Visit MenuPlease for more or send her an email at femmedejoiefood@yahoo.com.
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37 Responses

  1. Avatar Ken Brown says:

    My wife and I ate there several times and enjoyed it but had an incident on Valentines Day (my wife’s birthday) 2014 and haven’t been back. I made a reservation a week in advance, as it was Valentines Day. When we arrived for the first seating they tried to put us in the bar, I said no I wanted a table by the window. They insisted they were all reserved. I said I reserved one a week ago and finally we got a seat across from the window. I asked again about a window seat and was told no. We overheard another couple with the same issue, when the man caused a scene, which I won’t do, they got a window table. We had our dinner and left, with the tables we were refused still vacant the whole time. We had been going there on a fairly regular basis, but have never been back.
    We also miss the Hatch Cover, we started going there when it opened in the 70’s and probably ate there a couple of times a month until it closed.

  2. Avatar EasternCounty says:

    All this time I thought the line was, “Pasta is the quiche of the ’80’s.”

    We haven’t been to 202, and after your review, I believe that trend will continue.

  3. Avatar CoachBob says:

    More to the point of this review, why would we expect anything less from View 202’s owner? He’s made his mark in the franchise business where he’s told exactly what to sell and how to cook it! Now he ventures into his “own design” and I think it falls flat. Not unexpected. Burger King and Maries. Shoulda stuck with it.

  4. Avatar CoachBob says:

    And, I forgot, I’ve had friends go there and come back wth horror stories. Slow service, waitress not knowing the menu, and Joe walking around the tables totally unconcerned with his surroundings. There, I’m done (and happier for it) 🙂

  5. Avatar CoachBob says:

    Sorry, I can’t resist. The more I sit here at this restaurant drinking my coffee the more I think of (sorry, regular readers, this will be the last). Going from burger joints to “high end wannabe’s” is akin (in construction) to being a painter (which I am) and spending your life doing tract-wham-bam homes and being asked to do a custom, very expensive house. Two completely different worlds. I don’t cook or run a restaurant, but I truly believe they are similar for comparison sake.
    I remember a job offer in the paper many years ago for a painter…”High end painter needed for custom home work….new tract construction painting does NOT qualify you for this position”! Boy oh boy, ain’t that the truth! (Peter Principle)

  6. Avatar Canda says:

    Femme de Jois, Your reviews are so fun to read. I love your humor as you give us your honest opinion of a restaurant. I would have to agree that the food at the View is over-priced and inconsistent. We’ve had dinner there a couple times, but haven’t been back in a couple years. That beautiful view is so tempting, I do enjoy a drink and appetizers on the patio, but that can be rather expensive as well. We seem to keep going back to CR Gibbs for special occasions. I feel like we get our money’s worth there, and the patio is great if weather allows. Thanks for another fun and informative review!

  7. A. Jacoby A. Jacoby says:

    Your review confirms my opinion to the nth degree! I’ve eaten there on several occassions and left with the same feeling.
    #1. the menu is a bait and switch. What arrives at the table most certainly does not live up to the hype on the menu.
    #2. It’s way overpriced for what you get. Maybe not for what’s described on the menu but for what arrives on the plate.
    What a shame to waste that lovely view on second rate offerings. It’s really the only place in Redding that makes an attempt to utilize our amazing setting. And, circle this date in red, here’s an occasion where I agree with CoachBob.

  8. Avatar Barb says:

    I got engaged in a booth in this restaurant, it was “our” place for the whole time we were dating. Now that we have been married a bit, I find myself picking other restaurants for assorted reasons. Poor food and service being the main ones. Obnoxious nightclub atmosphere experiment being another. Being a semi regular prior, going at least a couple times a month I found myself ignored, sending food back which was just simply subpar. I don’t mind the pricing as long as the food makes me feel as if it earned the cost. Case in point: Clearies. Their bar bites are superb. Great Value and consistent quality. I even pay extra for the dry ice in the drink. Moonstone. Always always fresh and good. We gave up Gioranda’s for Nellos for the same reason. Cafe Paradiso is consistent and open late. Everyone has a niche. Peter Chu’s I prefer his lunch menu. Chu’s too I will hit anytime. As usual, you are on spot with your review!

  9. Avatar Gerry says:

    Right on! I only take people from out of town to this place or go by on a gorgeous evening for a cocktail.

  10. Femme de Joie Femme de Joie says:

    Dear Readers,

    Femme de Joie would like to offer a correction to one point made in the review.

    While it is true that BevMo sells a bottle of Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling for $6.99, it is the Chateau Ste. Michelle Eroica Riesling that is sold at View 202 for $14 per glass/ $52 per bottle. BevMo prices that particular wine (the 2012) at $17.99 through their membership discount. Not quite as appalling a markup.

    Thanks for reading,
    Femme de Joie

  11. Avatar EasternCounty says:

    We had lunch at 202 with some out-of-town friends. The only thing I remember about the meal was that the Brussels sprouts were nearly raw. I couldn’t even pierce them with the provided knife much less eat them. And I really like Brussels sprouts. It’s a shame that such a beautiful setting doesn’t have a great restaurant alongside.

  12. Avatar Curtis Chipley says:

    I thought I was the only person in Redding who did not enjoy my two visits to View 202, and who LOVED, LOVED, LOVED the Hatch Cover. That being said, our experience with the staff at View 202 was horrible. My wife and I went in after work, to have dinner. We were seated at that serpentine wall, where the tables are so close you are hitting elbows with the person next to you, even though the entire restaurant was empty, sans a few people in the bar. I ordered a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon, when the wait person brought the wine to the table it was clearly a Rose….. I politely told the wait person that the wine was not what I had ordered, to which she said this is OUR Cabernet….. I looked at her and said honey I have been drinking wine longer that you have been alive and this is NOT a Cabernet……. she continued to tell me that it was what View 202 offered. I asked to speak to the Manager…. he came to the table and when I told him what was happening, I was expecting a quick solution i.e. the right wine to be brought to me, he told me that the wait person said I ordered a Rose and that is what I got, I said no, he did get my right wine but was not happy about it. The start to a non descript evening, of over priced food, that was not even tasty. We paid our bill which was close to $100.00. I vowed never to go again…..However we had friends who wanted to met there for drinks…… so we agreed. We did have drinks on the patio, which is the best part of View 202…… but as the reviewer stated the price of a glass of wine is waaaay over priced….. I work at BevMo, and know what the cost of a bottle of wine is, and Restaurants get even a deeper discount on a bottle of wine. Also for me a corkage fee of up to $15.00 is acceptable, but if it goes over that price it is just price gouging….. I mean really? they are removing the cork….for heavens sake, come on now. I have not recommended View 202 to anyone, it is just not my cup of tea or glass of wine……there will be others who disagree with me and that is fine, this is just a recap of my experience with View 202, and I choose to not spend my money where I cannot even get a correct glass of wine….. I mean really Rose is pink, and Cabernet is a beautiful dark red color, just by that simple test they failed…… I love to go to a nice restaurant, and have a nice meal, enjoy a bottle of wine, but I do not like going, paying high prices and leaving feeling like I was just robbed……. just my humble opinion……

  13. Avatar Shasta Minded says:

    I have to agree with the others. The quality of the food and the service does not justify the price. The view is fabulous and one of our favorite places to take out-of-town guests to experience on a pretty, early-summer evening. To avoid disappointment, we limit ourselves to appetizers and beer at View 202 and find another restaurant for truly fine dining. I wish our town had more river-side dining and superb-view restaurants.

  14. Avatar KG says:

    We showed up for dinner one night and stood for fifteen minutes at the hostess stand, during which time other guests arrived, were recognized by the hostess, and were bumped ahead of us. We were never acknowledged at all. We left and won’t be back.

  15. A. Jacoby A. Jacoby says:

    Wouldn’t it be nice if one or two of those office buildings along that bluff had a nice lunch deli with view side patio dining available? Or even someplace along Park Marina.

  16. Avatar name says:

    Great review!

    It is a shame that they wasted the best dining view in the area by providing mediocre service and overpriced food. Redding is probably one of just a few cities where they can get away with that and still stay in business…

  17. Avatar Doreen O. says:

    Wow, now my hubby and I won’t feel like quite such an anomaly for our mixed experiences at View 202. Invariably, one of us will really enjoy the dinner and the other will barely finish his or her meal. I still shake my head when I think of being seated in one of those elevated ‘serpentine’ seats when I ambulate with a leg brace and two canes. I felt incarcerated all evening as I was scared I would fall trying to get out to go to the restroom. And, yes, you can forgive an imperfect meal if the price isn’t quite so high……..

  18. Avatar pmarshall says:

    Well after all that, we won’t venture out to that restaurant. I too, loved the Hatch Cover. It is a shame to ruin the beautiful view with mediocre food and poor service. It is so difficult to find a really great restaurant in Redding. We found such restaurants in Sonoma County. Someone needs to check them out and try to see what makes them “tick”; I’m certain we can do better in Redding.

  19. Avatar Honey Guyon says:

    WOW! My husband and I must be freakey eaters.
    We LOVE 202. the bread is nothing short of magical.
    The dip for the bread is good enough to drink. We always
    order seconds on bread and dip.

    We always order the same meals. I am a fan of small
    meals so I order Thai beef. this is an appetizer. It is a shredded beef,
    well seasoned and roasted soft with a very spicy
    sweet-hot sauce for dipping. it comes with butter
    lettuce to wrap it in, like a taco.

    Mike gets the salmon, with garlic mashed potatoes.

    We have enjoyed it every time.

  20. Let’s face it there’s not a decent restaurant this town – I never even want to eat out anymore – one disappointment after another – don’t mind paying for a good meal but still waiting for one I feel was worth what I paid!

    doni – I really think you need to open a restaurant – I’ll be first in line! LOL

    • Oh, Jackie, you flatter me, but let me refer you to my column that tells why I am not a cater.

      Also, I have interviewed too many chefs with new restaurants, only to hear later when the restaurant crashes and burns (no surprise, no chef wants hype for that event). I know better than to open a restaurant. It’s a skill set I lack. (Besides, Andrea Charroin has promised me that if I ever opened a restaurant she’d come and slap me up side the head … in love, of course. I believe her. )

  21. Avatar Shannon says:

    I was not a fan in the early days, but they have gotten much better in the last year. The short rib tacos and blue cheese Polenta bites with a glass of wine and that View make me a happy girl. I have also enjoyed the salads and filet. Scallops were just okay. Brunch is great. I am happy to see the use of lots of local ingredients as of late. But I would not be opposed to Moonstone Bistro taking over that location!

  22. Avatar david kerr says:

    Portion sizes are too large. Prices are too high. A salad and dessert is all I need with these portion sizes.

    The more they increase the portion sizes and the higher the prices, the less I enjoy it.

    • Avatar Frank says:

      Honestly… I understand complaining about prices being too high, but who complains about portion sizes being too large? That seems a little strange. I’ve complained about small portion sizes, never large.

      • Avatar Tom B says:

        Bigger portions means more food, costs more. Smaller portions that I won’t take home but will satisfy should cost less and save the restaurant, hopefully passing the savings on.

        Less waste is always good

  23. Avatar Carla Clark says:

    We have been several times and have always enjoyed ourselves. The deck with the view is lovely and we’ve had some very good meals there. I tend to like appetizers better than main courses, so often I have appetizers for dinner, and there is a good array to choose from. All in all, we like View 202 and will go definitely go back.

  24. Steve T. Steve T. says:

    After avoiding View 202 for more than a year, my wife and I decided recently to give it another try, just to for the pleasure of having drinks and an appetizer on the patio. I don’t mind paying a bit extra for a beer and a mixed drink in exchange for the view. What I do mind is awful food and service. Fried appetizers are never my favorite, but the strips of calamari were so soggy with oil that they were limp as wet dishrags, the breading falling off in globs. It was inedible.

  25. Avatar KarenC says:

    We have never had a really great meal at View 202. Our last experience was enough to keep me away forever. It was our 50th wedding anniversary. We were 16 in total, some coming from as far away as Ohio. Others from Sacramento and Roseville. My husband and I went to View 202 three months ahead of time, sat down with the lead event planner. We were to be seated outside, within a special area set aside for all of us with couches, chairs, tables, whatever we needed. I called back twice to make sure all was still OK. On the day of our party, we arrived on time, and were directed to a table in the center of room. I said, “No, we are to be seated outside per our plans and instructions.” We were told it was not going to happen because the fans were all broken! What!

    We were so disappointed that no one called us in advance, to let us know of the changes, it was also embarrassing. Everyone was looking forward to al fresco dining and a great view of the river and mountains from outside. The food was lack luster all the way around. There was a lot of confusion by the person taking the orders. He only took two orders at a time, saying he could not handle 16 orders at once.
    We have never gone back and will not. It is a shame that the best spot on the river for dining is one of the most undesirable. By this time, they should have a great chef in there, and someone who knows how to run a restaurant that could very well be a destination point.

    Someone mentioned the Thai Salad in another post. That was the last dish I ate there when my husband and I went for lunch together. I thought, how can I go wrong with a salad. It was so bland and unappetizing. I do better at home. It was about that time that I had read that a new chef was taking over, and he touted that he had new and fresh ideas. A few comments on Yelp were favorable, so because of that and the location we chose it as our venue for our wedding anniversary.

    • That story wins the sad prize. I am so, so sorry. 🙁 What a horrible thing to happen to you on such an important day.

      • Avatar Ronda says:

        A VIEW can only do so much…..It is a shame that all of the comments/reviews are exactly what myself and my friends have experienced. A dear friend made reservations in advance, to celebrate her 65th Birthday out on the patio.(20 people) Apparently the staff was not prepared to handle two parties on the same evening . The service was horrendous. Marginal food and drinks. The Bartender was distraught, but very sweet! Dining should be the FULL experience. We should all be made to feel that we are special. Nello’s is the ONE place that has been consistent over the years, with their service, food and wine selections. Great staff! It would be wonderful to be able to refer people to enjoy the VIEW….However, it obviously needs a COMPLETE MAKEOVER, all the way around.

  26. Wow-how terrible to have that happen on your Anniversary -I would be livid – talk about “no class’in letting you know -even getting it free would have NOT been good enough for me. So sorry that happened to you and how embarrassing in front of your guests! no excuse for that for sure.

  27. Avatar Barbara Stone says:

    Thankyou! I love spending money on a really good meal with a really great wine…View 202 just doesn’t do it for me. The wine list was unimpressive, as was the meal. I will say, though, that I attended a baby shower there when it first opened and that meal, along with the appetizers, was delicious! Everything cooked to perfection and flavorful. But the couple of times my husband and I ate dinner there since….again, not impressed.

  28. I feel the same way if the food and service I am spending my money on is good – I love it – but I refuse to spend money on sub par service and food which seems to be the norm in this town.

  29. Avatar EasternCounty says:

    It’s no wonder cookie-cutter restaurants — Red Lobster and Olive Garden come to mind — are so popular because the fare may not be haute cuisine, but it’s predictable, and the staff really seem glad to serve. Marie Callendar’s is the exception. I ordered Pasta Alfredo there, and it was just pasta with white sauce. There was not a hint of Parmesan in it. That was years ago, and we haven’t been back. Perhaps Mr. Wong has difficulty finding chefs who know something about cooking.

  30. Avatar KarenC says:

    Jackie, in your earlier post you mentioned you never want to eat out anymore. The same with us. We keep trying, but come home disappointed. When we eat out, I expect just as good as I can do at home.

    I wish the local places would buy local, we have such an abundance of locally grown food here in the area. I buy lovely eggs (with bright gold yolks) fabulous lettuces of all types, carrots, beets, all sorts of squashes (many heirlooms) local sausages that are outstanding, breads, lamb, beef, olives and olive oils, asparagus, broccoli, leeks,onions, garlic, and so much more.

    Oh, and when the tomatoes arrive….it is glorious! Heirlooms of all types, so many colors to make your salad beautiful and taste so delicious. How I would love for a restaurant to serve fresh, locally grown tomatoes in their salads, or just make a huge heirloom tomato plate with a great vinaigrette. I could eat that for dinner.
    Even simple food can be excellent!