The Unusual Suspects

The uproar continues at DG's Metropolitan Deli & Grille, the forever-unfinished cafe in the former Munch-a-Bagel spot on Seventh Street near Camelback. After tinkering with the place for many months, revamping menus, renovating space and expanding, the owners finally introduced their concept in October. By December, the restaurant was closed temporarily for further renovations. Now, the corporation has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, providing protection from its creditors while it reorganizes.

It's still business as unusual, though, with DG's continuing to serve its eclectic breakfast, lunch and dinner menu. And for all the starts and stutters, it's hard not to root for the funky feeding hole. Where else can we get such schizophrenic choices -- a blend of sub sandwiches, American comfort food, Asian-influenced plates and upscale continental items? The mix includes pizza steaks, ham-salad sandwiches, beef stroganoff, Thai shrimp salad, kettle-fried turkey and Cajun-rubbed Pacific swordfish. Surprisingly, the kitchen is largely successful with almost everything it sends out.

DG's has great potential for a one-of-a-kind neighborhood place, and is such a welcome relief from the sea of chains flooding the Valley. It would be a shame to see it sink.

The Winter of My Content: Most local resorts welcome the change in seasons with a change in menus. Usually, they're pretty predictable -- the cold months bring brown foods (squash, pumpkin, beans, game meat), with an emphasis on sturdy (hearty stews, hefty casseroles, bone-in roasts). Typically, we can expect a contemporary American emphasis, with maybe some generic Mediterranean accents sprinkled in.

At T. Cook's, however, chef Derek Morgan is showing that he has a few surprises under his toque, introducing a winter menu that deserves special attention. Inspired by a recent tour of Spain, Morgan presents flavors representative of Madrid, Barcelona, Seville and San Sebastian. He's also moved toward more authentic Mediterranean dishes, drawing from Italy and France.

It's worth a special visit to sample Spanish stars like Chilean sea bass with wild mushroom bacon pie and Brussels sprouts; French fantasies like beef tenderloin with celery root gratin and Roquefort; or Italian inspirations like osso buco with thyme-scented white beans, gremolata and black truffle veal jus.

Check out the killer desserts, too, created by executive pastry chef Pierino Jermonti, fresh from a trip to Italy. Crema fritta arrabiata is stunning, a deep-fried custard with spiced polenta, squash blossoms and ricotta.


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