Dear Diary:

Saturday, March 29
Tin Shed Garden Cafe
1438 NE Alberta St., 288-6966

Miss Dish has been a fan of this lovely breakfast haunt since the get-go. She loves the dimple-cute staff, the hunker-down-and-squeeze-on-some-sunscreen dining patio, the creamy potato cakes that come with your eggs. Still, something troubles her about the food here--something that keeps the Shed from being Miss D.'s top brunch spot--and it has to do with the prep. If you order an omelette with, say, mushrooms, as she did on this occasion, the fungi come in large chunks that, by virtue of their size, can't get cooked enough. My dining companion got the ham omelette, and the pieces of meat were unwieldy as well. Perhaps this is the Shed's version of homestyle--with large, ragged bits in the food, you know it's house-made. But it doesn't work. Please go to Uwajimaya and get the $20 mandoline that helps you knock off rice-paper-thin wisps of veggies in no time. Thanks!


Saturday, April 5
Tuk Tuk Thai
4239 NE Fremont St., 282-0456

This is a new Thai place that took over the spot where an old pho place used to be on Fremont. They've done a nice remodel--lime and mango hues brighten up the place, Happy People pastel paintings line the wall--and you get a sense of a serious commitment to offer above-par Thai. Miss D. tried the ubiquitous tom kha soup and found it creamier than most, with a nice lemongrass kick and overflowing with chicken. Tuk Tuk pitched lemongrass chicken as one of its specialties, and she found it high-quality but a little ho-hum--strips of white meat with a serviceable peanut sauce. Still, she likes the place and would go back.


Friday, April 18
Shanghai Tunnel
211 SW Ankeny St., 220-4001

When some friends suggested dinner at what Miss Dish usually considers a sideburns-and-faux-trucker-hat bar, she was surprised but intrigued. Soon she was bitch-smacked by her astounding ignorance: This place has better-than-average cheap eats. Miss D. and friend shared a bowl of tom kha soup (OK, so she likes the stuff), and it came in a big bowl loaded up with veggies in a zingy coconut broth. Her pal got the Damien--thin strips of Korean-style barbecue beef with a sake and sweet-chili glaze ($7)--and she got the Goa ($8), a huge bowl of a creamy East Indian curry with prawns and veggies over rice. While the place commits the too-much-carrot sin, overall it serves yummy grub in overgrown portions. Plus, the underground bar blares Journey and serves Chimay beer. Nice.


Wednesday, April 30
O, Cielo!
911 SW 10th Ave., 222-5004
Miss Dish can spot this cute li'l Italian deli from her office window. She stares at it so much that sometimes she forgets it's there--kind of like the Buffy screen-saver she's had on her computer for four years. Then she got hooked on the lentils. You can get lentils in a spicy tomato sauce for $2.50 for a cup, $4.50 for a bowl, and it's outrageously good in a subtle, this-is-healthy-for-my-lower-GI-tract kind of way. The lentils are never mushy, and the sauce is never too spicy; it gently buzzes your tastebuds. Comes with a garlicky bruschetta round, and it's vegan to boot. A rainy-day must-have!