Simpatica serves you on its terms. That means you eat what they make at fixed-menu dinners ($35 plus wine and gratuity) on Fridays and Saturdays. And you'd better get a reservation early, because they go fast. But Simpatica can get away with this heavy-handed approach because the food is just that good. And if you really feel stifled, Simpatica offers less planning and more choice at its Sunday brunch, which creatively reinvents classic combinations like chicken and waffles and biscuits and gravy. A recent Friday-night dinner began with a sure-handed take on a Spanish classic: gleaming mussels and chorizo fired in a wood oven—briny, salty, smoky and delicious. A lovely Caesar-like salad followed, combining romaine with artichoke hearts and a "creamy lemon dressing," its richness well balanced by the citrus. The main course was a combination incapable of failing—steak and bacon. Add local chanterelles and roasted tomatoes to the hanger steak and thick-cut smoky chunks and you get a very quiet dining room, everyone's focus narrowing to the next bite. Let them tell you what to eat. They're right.
Order this: Simpatica does the ordering, but it's in your interest to obey.
Best deal: $35 for four superb courses ain't bad.
I'll pass: A chocolate soufflé cake for dessert was solid, but who has room?