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It was a work lunch, so I don’t have pictures.  A shame indeed, because I had one of the best meals in recent memory today at RN74.  You will just have to trust me on this one.

Planning work lunches is tricky: the restaurant needs to be “nice”, and it needs to have menu items my boss will order.  He is not a picky eater, per se, but he is a particular eater.  We have made the rounds of every place within a 10-block radius of the office that meet these criteria, and a few beyond.  (I remember distinctly, but not fondly, a 20-block hike in heels in pouring, cold rain for what was a delicious lunch, but ugh.  So not worth it.)  RN74 is new (well, 3 months old) and my colleague and I had Venue Choice Control because of our well-placed birthdays (it pays to be stubborn?), so our boss agreed to check it out.  I later got some brownie points when he realized a friend of his is an investor here.  Unintentional work lunch score!

The restaurant itself is nondescript from the outside, but almost cluttered when you walk in and first look around.  The interior is dark, with a large bar area in the middle and seating around the sides.  There is a cluster of lanterns that I didn’t “get” in terms of the space as a whole, but they were a conversation piece, for sure, and I did like them.  The walls are crowded with information about their extensive wine list, but the overall feel is warm and happy-busy; there was an impressive crowd even at 1pm.  There is a subtle but clear train/subway station theme that was clever without being cutesy.  The wait staff was dressed casually (we later discovered the “uniform” was a checked shirt in any color and jeans, intended to make you think “Seattle dress informal”.  I think that’s what she said…) and seemed laid-back.  Each person who came to the table was attentive but not overbearing, and our waitress Madeline was phenomenal: funny, helpful, just chatty and just funny enough.  I hope to see her there again.

Now for the food: we shared the maitake mushroom tempura and I would have been happy with just that.  Oh my, oh my.  It was light and still hot and mushroomy and crisp and delicious– I felt like I was eating perfect and very advanced popcorn.  My boss had a green salad with roasted chicken and proclaimed it delicious with no substitutions.  Win!  My colleague had fish and chips and said it was excellent; the portion-size was notably generous for lunchtime.  I had agnolotti with swiss chard, fresh ricotta and chanterelles, and if you haven’t figured it out by the fact I am writing paragraphs about this meal, I will say it again: it was delightful.  The pasta was correctly cooked and the seasoning was spot on.  The ricotta was creamy, the chard had that squeak to it that I love and the chanterelles were fresh and not overcooked, a great surprise.  I also tried a non-alcoholic (it was work lunch, remember?) drink with ginger beer, fresh peach and lemon.  If you know me, you will know how this drink made me smile.

So, run don’t walk to RN74!  A great new spot downtown, on 4th & Pike in the old Rite Aid space.  (How’s that for an upgrade?)  I am looking forward to going back, maybe with you?  Hint hint…

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