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No Horsing Around

Equestria Restaurant and Lounge offers elegance in a stable atmosphere.

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A meal at Equestria Restaurant and Lounge is a Triple Crown experience, though one that comes with a Triple Crown tab. So is it worth it? Let's just say the fare wins over the fee by a nose.

But enough with the puns and on with the review

Equestria is located at 3165 Forest Hill-Irene in Germantown and has less a decor than it does a setting -- that of elegantly rustic stables. When we arrived, we were greeted and seated promptly. We had several questions about the menu that our waiter could not answer, and to his credit, he requested assistance from a more experienced waiter, and the chef graciously left her kitchen to explain several menu selections to us.

To begin, we chose shrimp and crab cakes served with a corn relish and black bean/serrano pepper (a hot green chile) sauce. The combination of flavors exploded on the tongue with flares of sweet and sour. We also tried the jumbo shrimp cocktail, which was served in a large martini glass, and the Tennessee oysters, which were pecan-crusted, deep-fried, and doused in a tangy rémoulade sauce. Our party inhaled those.

Salad selections included the Equestria salad -- mesclun mixed greens, Mandarin orange slices, pine nuts, bacon, and a blood-orange vinaigrette. The vinaigrette was crimson-colored and sweet with a taste of raspberry. The tomato-mozzarella stack proved that layers of marinated mozzarella, ripe tomatoes, fresh basil and a light pesto vinaigrette served in a timely fashion can truly keep their goodness. (It doesn't hurt that the herbs are grown in the garden behind the restaurant.) But the smoked-trout salad was the ultimate mix of greens and treats -- Romaine lettuce, greens, roma tomatoes, Mandarin orange slices, pine nuts, and purple basil topped with chilled smoked trout. A barely needed sun-dried tomato vinaigrette came on the side. The succulent pink flesh of the trout had been perfectly smoked. Extraordinary.

For an entrée, one of our party ordered the linguine Portofino -- tossed linguine, mushrooms, and sautéed shrimp and lobster in a sherry cream sauce that turned out to be a real lightweight. In direct contrast, Polynesian halibut -- a golden brown, lightly coconut-encrusted piece of white fish served with a pineapple and red chile salsa and rice. This dish, with its yellow and reds, was not only attractive, it was delicious with its melt-in-your-mouth fish, sweet coconut, and tart salsa.

The roasted rack of lamb was encrusted with a white-wine-based Dijon mustard and herbed breading and finished with a brown mint demi-glace. The lamb, cut from the rib section into chops, was tender and flavorful, but the brown demi-glace was heavier and had a stronger mint essence than the menu described. Another entrée we liked: the 14-ounce rib-eye steak and broiled lobster tail. The rib-eye was prepared to order, the lobster tail generous and broiled to perfection. No argument here.

From the dessert menu: The blue-ribbon banana cream pie -- rich, creamy custard with fresh bananas folded in and a touch of ground cinnamon, all presented in a graham cracker crust -- was a true winner. Next up was the tiramisu, described as an Italian cheesecake, with ladyfingers soaked in coffee and Marsala, layered with mascarpone cheese and chocolate, and topped with cocoa powder. Tiramisu is a particular weakness of mine though this version was too soggy and not the rich dessert I'm used to.

Appetizers and salads at Equestria range from $8 to $16, entrées from $18 to $40. Equestria is open for dinner Monday through Saturday, 5-10 p.m. Reservations, though not required, are suggested. 869- 2663. n

food notes

by Hannah Walton

Hattley's Homemade

"Everyone loves ice cream, and I figure there are not that many other local places selling it," says Hattley's Garage co-owner Carol Osborne.

At least not like this. For the last two weeks, Hattley's has been serving up tea- and coffee-flavored homemade ice cream. There's Mean Mocha, Chocolate Moroccan Mint, Camomile Lemon, Orange Chai, and Ginger Peach.

This cool line is courtesy of Osborne's partner, Michele Warren, a regular culinary busy-body. From the sandwiches to the beverages, Warren is forever combining flavors and experimenting.

Warren is now working on an Earl Grey flavor, as well as ice- cream sandwiches.

Hattley's Garage at 1761 Madison is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday.

Grisanti On Wheels

With something like 1,000 family-based restaurants in town, what's left for a Grisanti to do?

Take it on the road, of course.

Alex and Judd Grisanti have left Ronnie Grisanti & Sons Restaurant to run the recently opened Grisanti's Catering Company.

"We do it all," says Judd Grisanti. "We're different from other catering companies because we come to you."

Executive chef David Cleveland, along with Alex and Judd, design the menu to fit each client's needs. The team of chefs work in the kitchen of Ronnie Grisanti & Sons during the day to prepare the food for the events.

Grisanti's Catering Company works luncheons, parties, weddings, etc., starting with hors d'oeuvres and ending with dessert. When catering at a client's home, the chef comes with his own pots and pans and an adequate staff, all of whom are professional chefs.

"We bring needed staff from the bartenders to the dishwashers," Judd says. "We like to leave the kitchen just like we found it."

The Grisantis started off doing events with only a day's notice, but now they've half of December already booked.

"This has been incredibly overwhelming and exciting all at the same time," says Judd.

For more information, call 323-8000.

Witty Work

Mother of Mother Witt, deejay of WRBO-FM 103.5, said to father of Mother Witt: "Is that a possum?" Father said, "Possibly" - - hence the dish, "Possibly Possum."

"Possibly Possum" is no ordinary recipe. None of the recipes Mother Witt broadcasts twice daily, at 6:35 a.m. and 8:10 p.m., on the station is. The only requirement is that the recipes are easy to follow and have few ingredients.

Witt, who says she rarely cooks these days, learned from her mother and grandmother, who were in the catering business.

"My mother and grandmother were fine cooks," Witt says. "My grandmother was known for her wedding cakes."

For her broadcasts, Witt uses recipes from her listeners, old cookbooks, her family, and, of course, her own collection. Some of the recipes, she says, are just from the simple days when she was a kid. One example is the homemade Popsicle: pour Kool-Aid in an ice-cube tray, insert Popsicle sticks, and freeze.

"The recipes get crazier," Witt says. "Such as today's 'Atomic Kool-Aid' recipe where you mix Kool-Aid with orange juice and Kahlua."

"It's so fun, and the feedback I get is so positive," says Witt.

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