Slipping through the velvet curtains draping the entryway at Bar Divani always is a thrill, something new to try, a reason to revisit, often the best place to be in when downtown.
As Bar Divani prepares to celebrate its sixth anniversary next month, co-owners Dennis Moosbrugger and Rimple Nayyar have ushered in a trendier, swankier feel. Moosbrugger's wife, Melonie Rogers, a designer at Think Design, renovated the space with painted mirrors, lush panels, upright suede and leather furniture, window table booths, new light coverings and a fresh paint job.
My husband, Rich, and I, looked forward to sharing the fine show with my dad, James Beeler, visiting from Scottsdale, Ariz.
Taking advantage of the happy hour menu with greatly reduced pricing of many small plates, sushi maki rolls and flat breads -- to counter the economic downturn -- we found it was a delicious way to shave a few dollars off the bill.
Chef Craig Oland's food is worth getting out of the house for -- it is beautifully executed and exquisitely presented, a culinary quilt of the best regional flavors and products he can get.
Suddenly, we were craving pan-seared scallops ($6 happy hour; regularly $12) crowning a ragout of cannellini beans, bacon, apples and celery, then kissed with chili oil. The full-slab (unsliced) bacon cut into big chunks when preparing the dish, delivered an unbeatable pork flavor that bundled everything up in deliciousness.
With the pan-seared scallops, we created wine-and-dine thrills of small plates with one entree tossed in for good measure.
The pommes frites ($2.50 happy hour; $5 regular) brought out Idaho potatoes cut into matchsticks and fried until glistening with flavor, then tossed with truffle oil, Parmesan cheese and freshly cracked peppers. It was fun to dip into the lemon aioli. We can't say enough about true Parmigiano-Reggiano with its sharp, complex, fruity/nutty taste. There's no substitute for the real McCoy, though Grana Padano is close....