BEST RESTAURANT FOR APPETIZERS - 2001
Loring Pasta Bar
Appetizers? What a weird concept, when you think about it. They're the foods you eat, um...before you eat. That being the case, it would make the most sense for those tasty before-meal bits to be light and scarce in number. But too often, appetizer means a bottomless pile of chicken wings slathered in ranch dressing or a greasy pile of nachos topped with a mound of sour cream. Don't get us wrong--we love our grease. But when we're looking for a true appetizer we head for the new Loring Pasta Bar in Dinkytown. Opened in March after an interminable amount of construction, owner Jason McLean's new creation is every bit as enchanting and romantic as his other popular nightspot, the Loring Cafe & Bar. In fact, we'd even go so far as to say that we like this place more. It's less expensive, presumably to attract the college types nearby. And as far as food goes, everything we tasted was incredible, particularly the Loring's famous artichoke ramekin, served with hot slices of garlic bread for just $6.95. If you must have something fried, there's tender calamari with a spicy aioli dipping sauce for $6.95. Or be adventurous and attempt the edamame ($4.95), lightly steamed soybeans in the shell. Dip the whole thing in some tamari and then hold the salty shell to your lips while you pop each tiny green bean into your mouth. Absolutely fabulous!