River Reverie

On that score: The grilled-chicken Caesar salad ($7.95) that witnessed my journey to the dawn of the Reagan era, though topped with a decent chicken breast (tender, char-grilled, and served still-hot), featured goopy, thickener-filled dressing, silver-dollar-size croutons topped with melted snakes of cheese, and repellent refrigerator-mushy slices of roma tomatoes. (Why does a Caesar salad need tomatoes at all, never mind spoiled tomatoes?) And the Caesar was far superior to the Mandarin salad ($7.95), which had oranges, bacon, almonds, and a sickly-sweet dressing, or the Braeburn apple and butternut squash salad ($7.25), which I wouldn't even mention in polite company. It arrived without any dressing whatsoever, and the nice candied walnuts couldn't hide the old-tasting gold beets and squash.

I didn't fare any better with the cooked dishes. An appetizer of walleye fingers ($6.95) was nearly tasteless. A barbecued-duck quesadilla ($6.50) had a reasonably tasty filling sequestered in tortillas the texture of paper plates left out in the rain. The chicken with puff pastry ($8.95) tasted like a TV dinner. The menu's priciest item, the almond-crusted walleye ($12.95), was greasy, but came with some good mashed potatoes. The next time I'm at the River Room--and there most assuredly will be a next time, because the enchanting decor and easygoing staff make me want to move in and stay indefinitely--I'll just stick to the sweet, creamy wild rice soup ($3.50) or a burger with fries ($6.75) and ice cream.

Actually, let me revise that. The next time I'm at the River Room, I think I'll just double-fist ice-cream drinks and drink-drinks, in the hope that more secrets of childhood will be revealed. I hadn't thought about It's a Living since fifth grade, when I transformed myself into a math-team nerd and whiled away the next couple of years with a lot of boys who were forever breaking their eyeglasses. Which restaurant will reveal what the rocket kids watched on television? Stay tuned.

Diana Watters



THE PIZZA CONNECTION: You know that oft-touted stock-market-hemline correlation according to which stock prices are supposed to soar when miniskirts rise, and bull markets follow hemlines below the knee?

Well, McSweeney's (www.mcsweeneys.net), the Internet magazine brought to you by the previous editor of now-defunct hipster mag Might, has come up with a much eerier, more contemporary way of correlating the uncorrelatable: Domino's Pizza consumption. Somehow they got Domino's PR people to provide sales figures for key dates in recent history. Their findings? On the day Augusto Pinochet was arrested in London, Americans felt "conflicted as Spain imposed its law, perhaps not quite legally, upon the deposed dictator from Santiago. While we gave the matter some thought on October 17, we phoned Domino's--and sales shot up 5.8 percent over those of a typical Saturday." The 60 Minutes broadcast of Dr. Kevorkian's assisted suicide got people hungry--sales up 6 percent! When Frank Sinatra died, pizza sales zoomed up 12.1 percent! Thinking that anybody's tragedy is Domino's triumph? Not necessarily. Consider the poetic justice evident in the fact that when abortion provider Barnett Slepian was murdered in his home in Buffalo, Domino's--which is owned by pro-life funder Tom Monaghan--saw a 3.2 percent slump compared with ordinary Fridays.

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