The name isn't French or Italian, but a reference to the corrugated aluminum siding cladding the anonymous Eliot neighborhood storefront. Behind this glinting exterior is a plush lounge serving an ambitious collection of small plates of vaguely German influence. The verdict: charming but erratic. Service is earnest and friendly but hardly expert—on a recent visit, our waiter didn't know all the dishes on the menu. And Alu's dozen and a half plates are wildly inconsistent. At one end of the spectrum is the unlikely but lovely combination of Niçoise olives, shallots and tarragon in the endive salad. Likewise, the lamb rib chop, rubbed in rosemary and parsley, will have you sucking the bones for any stubborn morsels. But other flavors fall flat—or, in the case of the mustard sauce on the pork-and-veal skewer, knock you flat, overpowering all else on the plate. Still, with the right choices, there's plenty on offer for a fine meal, especially paired with one of Alu's affordable wine flights. Moreover, there are enough good ideas on the menu and good intentions in the staff to suggest Alu will only get better.

IDEAL MEAL: Belgian endive salad, ratatouille "Richard Olney," lamb rib chop.