I can understand the "meat/poultry" menu grouping, but what's the common denominator of "fish/pasta?" Are they both yin? Is that why the kitchen put too much yang into the salmon ($25), an overcooked section of fillet with too much salt in its own crust and in the underlying "hash" of crabmeat and sweet potatoes? They did better on crab cakes ($22), which combine several kinds of crab with minimum filler, a sauce with enough mustard to pass for New Orleans remoulade, and good, creamy cole slaw.
But the most successful entrée was the skirt steak ($24) with "homemade" skin-on French fries. This is proudly sourced from Brandt Farm, whose Web site pronounces their beef both 100 percent natural and "corn-fed 365 days a year." It's very tasty, regardless of one's definition of natural.
Home is not such a good place for barbecue, judging by the House Smoked St. Louis Ribs ($19), which are clearly pre-cooked — no red ring, limited smoke flavor, a surprising amount of fat (poaching gets rid of some of that), and falling-off-the-bone texture. There is a bit of crust, and the separate sauce is technically impressive — it tastes like a sweet beer without any suggestion of uncooked alcohol.
None of these platters have much in the way of side dishes, so you may want broccolini ($6), still crunchy in garlic and oil, or house-made baked beans ($6), great when you get a bit of the smoked slab bacon and cafeteria-sweet when you don't. I can't endorse the Plymouth succotash ($6), made from butter beans, sweet corn, and potatoes.
Post 390 is supposed to be a tavern, and features some very enticing beers, from a dozen taps and searched-out bottles. I grabbed a bottle of Unibroue Maudite ($7.50), a strong, bittersweet, spicy, Belgian-style ale from Quebec. Good old Guinness ($6.50) was bitter and light by comparison, but a clean draught with a velvet-soft head. A glass of 2007 Laetitia pinot noir ($12/glass; $48/bottle), was light at the price, but had a sweet nose that complemented a lot of food. Decaf ($3), decaf cappuccino ($4.50), and real cappuccino ($4.50) were all excellent.
Post 390 has a dessert idea sure to be imitated, the $3 "sliver of dark chocolate cake" for "when a taste is just enough." Our sliver was rich enough for two. If you need more volume, the chocolate layer cake ($7) is quite good, though the carrot cake ($6.50) is the star of the cake shelf, with more intense spice and citrus flavors than the usual. Lemon-meringue pie ($7) was nice and sour, but I wasn't in love with the thick crust.
Service is very good at Post 390, which also gets points for using a full spectrum of minority waiters, not always the case downtown. The atmosphere is perhaps the big draw; everyone wants to be eating where everyone else is. It's loud more from people than from background music or design flaws. Tall windows are offset by relatively low and non-reflective ceilings.
Post 390 is intended to be the perfect place to grab a bite, or to linger for more bites. It can be, if you choose those bites carefully.
Robert Nadeau can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.