Name game

By BRIAN DUFF  |  November 7, 2007

Some categories are misleading, like “small plates” that offer enough for a meal. A salmon casserole has great gastro-pub potential, though it was not as successful as the crepe. The huge glop of mashed potato on top gave it more of the look of shepherd’s pie. A softer touch was on display in the braised duck leg with risotto and greens. Risotto can get heavy and gloppy, but each grain in the bowl had an al dente dignity of its own. Using a cider braise lent the tender duck a refreshing sweetness and a hint of fermented acidity.

Two ice creams nicely displayed the extremes of their genus. The familiar flavor of rich chocolate had a thick, puddingish, almost cake-like quality. In another scoop a more traditional texture carried off the unexpected combination of zucchini and toasted walnut.

I was glad to see the fatty, bumpy, tender skin left on my duck. Skin more than anything else defined the original separation of amphibians like frogs and reptiles like turtles. Reptiles, with their thick, tough skin and hard-shelled eggs, first claimed a foothold for animals on dry land. Frogs, with tender skin in continual need of moisture, and their wet, delicate eggs, still have one foot tethered to the wet old world. In this way the Frog and Turtle is more frog than turtle, since despite its Westbrook location and gastro pub designation it has maintained some of Uffa!’s delicate charms.

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