I’m not sure anybody learned very much about food writing at the Foodwriting Workshop I organized recently at Pagoda, but a grand time was had by all, and it gave me a good excuse to get enough people together so that we could order Pagoda’s 8-course banquet menu.
We ordered the least expensive version, eight courses for $99, with a menu that included seafood tofu soup, drunken chicken, ginger & scallion lobster, yinyang sole fish fillet, walnut jumbo shrimp, beef brisket hot pot, Jing dou pork chop, and Chinese broccoli with garlic. If you split the $99 tab eight ways, it’s cheaper than eating at the Olive Garden – and a whole lot tastier.
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Broders’ Pasta Bar doesn’t take reservations, and even if you call ahead, the wait can be pretty long (up to an hour and a half), especially at the peak of the dinner hour. The best way to beat the crowds is to dine later, when the dining room empties out, and Broders’ offers its $30 After 8 menu for two (available Sunday through Thursday).
The price includes a choice of salad for two, a bowl of warmed olives in oil with orange zest,bread basket, a choice of two pastas and a small carafe of red or white wine. There are about half a dozen pastas to choose from – generally, the less elaborate, lower-priced preparations on the dinner menu. We opted for the Caesar salad, the stringozzi alla Spoletina, a house-made fresh pasta (like fettucine), with a sauce of tomatoes and garlic; a simple spaghetti with salt, black pepper and Romano cheese, and a very drinkable rosso Toscano house red.
The dishes were all very simple, but the preparation was flawless; the olives were warmed to bring out their flavor; the Caesar dressed just right, the pastas perfectly al dente. We could have added a dessert, such as the bestia nera flourless chocolate cake, creme anglaise or the tiramisu (both $6.50), but the dinner felt complete just as it was.