Hail Goodfellow's, Well Met

What we did order kept us from wondering about anything else. The seven- spice seared scallop cocktail ($8.50), which arrived in a long black-stemmed cocktail glass, was a layered, spicy affair, the scallops and fresh basil leaves run through by black glass swizzle sticks in the good company of grilled yam triangles in a pineapple-cashew salsa. We also tried the bay seasoned blue crab cakes with ancho chili sauce and apple-jícama slaw ($10.50), another artfully presented and magnificent dish, the green apple slaw nestled in a purple cabbage leaf and seasoned with fresh mint leaves, the crab cakes lightly dusted with chili powder. When the waiter asked to clear our appetizer plates, it was only out of a slight sense of decorum that I didn't let him know that I had been planning to scrape away every last bit of pineapple and overlooked cashew.

I hadn't long to begrudge those bits, as dinner arrived shortly thereafter. The red chili seared pork tenderloin I ordered was fall-apart delicious, sided with a wild rice stir fry, thick with sesame seeds, snow peas, bok choy, red pepper, and carrots, and drizzled with a tangerine curry sauce. For art and refreshments' sake, the plate was garnished from point to point with grapefruit slices and adorned with a thinner-than-paper wafer, so thin it melted when touching the curry sauce. The dish was excellent and inventive without being annoying ($20). My friend enjoyed a plate of potato-wrapped Star Prairie brook trout, a sculpture with lightly fried, lemony green beans, lightly fried trout in a thin golden potato wrapping and accented with smoked shrimp, and dusted with spices and blue potato crisps ($20). It too was wonderful beyond belief.

After dinner, we quietly lingered over wine, quiet because the neighboring conversations between the wildly gesticulating bigwig types and their nervous, napkin-wringing companions seemed part of what Goodfellow's is all about; you don't hear people talking multimillion (and that's multi with a capital M) dollar movie deals at Denny's. We were too happily sated to want dessert, though a small part of me wishes I had saved room for the warm apple crisp with sour cream ice cream ($6.25). Anyway, our check came with a bit of almond-flavored chocolate, delicious, naturally (though I couldn't help but notice that the movie moguls got truffles...).

Our dinner, at $80 with wine and appetizers, excluding tip, seems a bargain compared with other, less fine restaurants that charge similarly, or more. The expertise and quality that one finds here is worth the price, especially if you just go once and live a while on the memory.

TABLEHOPPING

BLARNEY IN BRIEF WILL CAUSE YOU NO GRIEF: Time is closing in on your luck. In case it's been a while since you last frequented a liquor store or bar, here's the dirt: Guinness and Harp are conducting a "Win Your Own Pub in Ireland Contest," the third such contest in as many years. From thousands of entries, one U.S. resident, 21 and over, lucky slob, will be handed the keys to the Seanachaoi Pub in the town of Killaloe, situated on the banks of the River Shannon. The winner must convince judges in 50 words or less, finishing the phrase "Guinness is" in a manner that captures the stout's very essence. Last year's winners, Frank and June from Florida, say they just can't get enough of that Irish countryside. Says Frank, "When June and I won the Kilgoban, we began a whole new unexpected career. We have become completely involved in the day-to-day operation of the pub and greatly enjoy the impact it has had on our lives." Entries will be judged based upon appeal, clarity, originality, and relevance to the product. Entry forms are available where Guinness and Harp are sold, or mail your essay on an 8 1/2-inch by 11-inch piece of paper to: Guinness "Win Your Own Pub in Ireland Contest," PMI Station, P.O. Box 3585, Southbury, CT, 06488-3585. All entries must be received by March 31. For more information, call 1-800-ITS MY PUB.

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