Service With A Furrowed Brow

There is only one dessert listed on the menu, "fried banana" ($2.50), so we had to try it. They weren't kidding about the fried part, though I would advise making the "banana" plural. With a thick batter on top and a most generous drizzling of honey and chopped peanuts, this is surely one of the most delicious and gratifying things you can pop into your mouth. If I ever had a wish to quickly put on 10 pounds, I'd feast on this for a couple of days.

Checks arrive adorned with orange slices carved into swans (or maybe they were snails), and fortune cookies, all of our leftover food neatly bundled up into separate containers. For the price, Bangkok House is a great deal. It will just take some sleuthing to figure out which dishes to head toward, and how to not feel guilty that the staff is bending so far over backwards for little old you.


A reminder to tenors (especially those who do things at the last minute) that Murray's is holding "The Best 'Irish' Tenor Contest" on Monday, March 10, the proceeds of which will be donated to the Children's Program of Northern Ireland. The rules are easy: you don't have to be Irish, but you do need to render an Irish tune. The program begins at 7:30 p.m. sharp; any tenor wishing to compete should call Linda Lindquist at 333-2507. If you can't shake that Irish out of you, come back the following week, for on March 17, Murray's will be up to their four-leaf clovers in Irish beer specials, corned beef, cabbage, and Irish stew. Murray's is located at 26 S. Sixth St., Mpls.... Speaking of goodwill, Kozlak's Royal Oak Restaurant is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a benefit for Kids' Cafes drop-off centers in Minneapolis and St. Louis Park, where children can receive a hot meal after school. During March, 10 percent of sales from their deluxe Salmon Royal Oak entrées will be donated to this valuable resource. Royal Oak also kicks up its heels with a weekly drawing at their notable New Orleans's Brunch throughout 1997 for restaurant gift certificates. The Grand Prize is a week's stay at the Ritz Carlton in Naples, Florida. You can find Kozlak's at 4785 Hodgson Road, Shoreview; 484-8484.

HEE-HAW: Lacking excitement? Well, the Wild Wild Western Chef Showdown probably won't provide much blood sport (unless someone nicks himself with a paring knife), but it should be fun anyway. Sponsored by Best Foods through its Western Salad Dressing brand on March 10 at the Mall of America, this is your chance to see brawny chefs from all over the Midwest, including Minneapolis's own Chef Aaron Neururer from Market Bar-B-Que, do fancy things with salad dressing. Recipes will be judged on taste, originality, ease of preparation, creativity, presentation and practicality by a panel of judges that includes the newly crowned Miss Rodeo, Donna Stricklen. For you old ranch hands, the Wild Wild Western consumer contest begins on March 3. Call 1-800-417-6325 to receive contest information and/or prize-winning recipes.

THE ROAD AHEAD: According to "Foodcast," Kraft Creative Kitchens' food trends report, "Generation X is steadily shaping and redefining the notion of 'American' food for generations to come." But don't panic; their research also breaks the startling news that "America's love affair with pasta and other Italian foods remains strong." To confuse you even more about The Future as told by Kraft products, here's their recommended recipe for Mexican Chicken Pizza (bonus points for a recipe that begins its instruction with "spray"):

* 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts,
cut into cubes

* 1 1/2 cups salsa

* 1 (12 inch) Italian bread shell

* 1/2 cup red pepper strips

* 1 tsp. chopped cilantro

* 1 pkg. (8 oz.) Kraft Pizza Natural Shredded Low-Moisture Cheese

* Mozzarella and Cheddar cheeses

Spray large skillet with no-stick cooking spray. Add chicken; cook on medium heat until chicken is cooked through. Stir in salsa; cook on low heat for five minutes.

Spoon chicken mixture over pizza crust; sprinkle with red pepper and cilantro. Top with cheese.

Bake at 400 F for 10 to 15 minutes or until cheese is melted.

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