STAFF PICK: Ever since this cozy little bistro tucked at the back of the Rumrunner Wine & Cheese store opened about three years ago, it's grabbed the hearts -- and stomachs -- of a legion of return customers. With a rotating menu capitalizing on seasonal ingredients, The Dish is a restaurant you can visit repeatedly and never grow tired of. Thanks to its parent enterprise, there's a well-chosen wine list and plenty of knowledgeable input from the Rumrunner staff. In short, there's nothing to dislike...unless it's the problem of getting in the door on a Friday or Saturday night, when the place is often packed to capacity. Although the menu changes frequently, three items have remained a constant on our many visits, and we'd be remiss not to effuse: First are the amazing saffron mussels, enjoyed with a glass of wine as a first course or light, late-night meal. The golden broth is served steaming and emitting a sensuous aroma of wine, garlic, butter and seafood. The pink mussels are tender, never tough or gritty, and slide with ease onto a piece of the Dish's homemade-style bread. Next, we treasure the beauty of The Dish's simple salad, an emerald oasis of mixed greens lightly tossed in a tomato vinaigrette and accented with toasted, chili-dusted pumpkin seeds. It may be called simple because it doesn't sound like much, but we've yet to find a more satisfying salad anywhere. Lastly, we unfailingly conclude our meals with the ice-cream sandwich, another deceptively simple offering comprised of two dense, chewy chocolate wafers wrapped around one of a variety of featured flavors of homemade ice cream (by Eric's on Speedway). The whole is drizzled with a rich caramel glaze and topped with sliced strawberries. We could go on and on about the various entrees we've sampled (mountainous veal chops, salmon and blue crab in papillote, beef tenderloin with wild mushrooms and a cabernet reduction sauce, lamb chops crusted with coffee, pork chops crusted with cashews) but we'd never be able to stop. There's only one thing you need to know: go there.
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