Flamant turns to more casual dining

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At Flamant, what has changed is that the menu has gone from mixed plates to a handful of salads, charcuterie boards, appetizers, sides, sandwiches and simple snacks. The beverage program has expanded to include inexpensive glasses of wine (for as low as $7), half-price bottles on Wednesday nights, and an assortment of Belgian and local beers on tap.

During two visits in late February, my dining companions and I shared several dishes that were as pleasing to the palate as they were to the eye. A beet and blue cheese salad featured a classic combination of endive, walnuts, green apple and blue cheese. The sweetness of the beets, together with the bitterness of the endive, the smoothness of the cheese and the crunch of the nuts all went together deliciously. The winter citrus salad with blood orange and grapefruit supremes, pickled cucumbers and onions tossed in a nest of frisee was nice and balanced and made good use of seasonal ingredients in the dead of winter when it can be hard to be inspired by what is available.

In the appetizer section, we enjoyed the ‘crab rolls’, served with a gin dip, essentially a cocktail sauce with a splash of gin to add floral flavor. The more stick-shaped rolls were delicately fried and a great appetizer to whet the appetite. We were reluctant to order the crispy Brussels sprouts and squash, only because we were tired of those ubiquitous starters, but this riff – mixed with bacon jam, aioli, pine nuts and sage – was delicious and distinct. In fact, there are little teasing touches throughout the menu that prevent a sense of sameness even when ordering something that’s served in every restaurant in town. The chicken liver mousse is brightened up with a dab of onion honey, for example; the pâté is boosted by black garlic mustard; and the “Royal” burger, a house-made chuck and minced brisket patty, is drizzled with gin dip and onion jam and topped with raclette and arugula.

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