Lucky Numbers

The best time to sample the Hue dishes at Le Bambou is during the weekend, after 2:00 p.m., when they serve a series of Hue dishes, including royal pancake, hot and spicy shrimp soup, hot and spicy Hue stew, and others (all cost $5.50). Rounding out my hit parade were a couple of "fresh rice cake" dishes (58 and 59) made by filling flat rice-paper noodles and steaming them until they are soft and yielding. They are delicate as clouds, paired with shredded mint and blanched bean sprouts, and dipped in the sweet vinegar sauce (nuoc nem) that accompanies most Vietnamese salads.

I didn't venture too far into the American half of the menu--which is available only until 2:00 p.m. But I was there one afternoon at 1:30 when they cut off the flow of roast beef, and one regular nearly caused her head to explode, so great was her outrage. I did try a patty melt ($5.50), which was very good. A chocolate malt ($2.80) was particularly creamy, and an appetizer plate of fried chicken and French fries (canh ga chien, $5.50) was all it should be.

Throw in some bowls of Jell-O ($1 for a small one, $1.25 for a large portion), a hot fudge sundae ($2.80), French toast, or a couple of grilled cheeses and you know what you've got? One of the only restaurants I know of where food-fearing kids and foodie parents can both dine happily, and cheaply. Somewhere among City Pages' public there's a barbecue- and Vietnamese-food-loving parent looking for somewhere to take a kid for weekend lunches, and Le Bambou is going to change their lives forever. If you're that person: your lucky numbers are 1, 45, 46, 53, 58, 59, and, on weekends, 66 through 70.

TABLEHOPPING:

NOT A NECTARINE: I was lounging around a bar one snowy evening a few weeks ago when several of my bosses suggested that what would be more interesting than ordinary columns would be answering reader mail. Of course, being no-good and lazy, I immediately saw the advantage of this approach: You, gentle reader, would be required to compose a portion of my column, for which you would receive no money. Nada. Not a nickel, not a nectarine.

Of course, it might be difficult for you to imagine how this might go. So I've provided some examples:

Q:Dear Dara: I was at Paddy O'Murphy's Irish Ire-stravaganza! with my three-legged girlfriend the other day, and let no one ever say she doesn't dance the prettiest jig in all the land, although some have pointed out quite rightly the trail she traces is somewhat circular. Now, my mother, known throughout suburban Cleveland for her acuity with needlepoint and steamfitting, my mother often said that fisheyes in your Guinness are like spit in the eye. And my beer did have fisheyes, those telltale pockmarks that signal the end of the keg. Should I have said something?

A: Probably.

Q: Dear Dara: I've long been a fan of the British dessert trifle and have long wondered: How did you get to be so smart?

A: Oh, pshaw, you shouldn't.

 

Send questions to Dara Moskowitz, Countess of Cornichons, City Pages, 401 N. Third St., Suite 550, Minneapolis, MN 55401, or to dmoskowitz@citypages.com.

 

DARA'S POSITION PAPER: Everyone seems to be weighing in on whether Minnesota grocery stores should be allowed to sell wine. But no one ever asks, "What does Dara think?" Well, Dara thinks the following: Hell yeah, grocery stores should sell wine! Why? Because it is a pain in the neck to go driving all over the place when you're trying to put dinner together.

But what about all the little vulnerable liquor stores? Let them sell groceries! Let them stay open as late as they want! Let them sell liquor on whatever day of the week they like--even Sundays! Free the liquor stores from the shackles of repression. I was in a liquor store once where they used to sell individual limes by the cash register, and I asked them where the limes were, and they said they had been forbidden to sell limes, under peril of losing their license, because limes were groceries. I ask you: Are we not men? If you prick us, do we not want some lime in our gin and tonics? And if you say to me, "What about the teenagers?" I will mock you. Look, teenagers don't need chardonnay to get their jollies. They've got a whole world of more attractive options, like beer, wine coolers, mouthwash, cough syrup, and putting their hands over their nose and spinning in circles. Trying to keep teenagers sober has nothing to do with cabernet sauvignon, gewürztraminer, or even zinfandel. Though it might have something to do with E&J Gallo's Wild Vines Blackberry Merlot, so feel free to ban that from grocery stores, liquor stores, opium dens, and the general discourse.

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