228-4565, 930 NW 23rd

The one good thing about Northwest Trendy Third is that it's home to so many small businesses--People churning their dreams into profitable retail stores or restaurants, while satisfying the ever-increasing yuppie-demand. Chez Celeste is seemingly the perfect fit, with its French/ Mediterranean cuisine; it should satisfy a niche that 23rd has been without. The operative word, however, is "should."

A visit there starts off well enough; the menu is pared down, yet intriguing, with simple dishes like homemade tuna salad, pesto linguini, and grilled swordfish. On the first round, my chatty co-worker and I thought the Seafood Fettuccine to be a keeper, with rich chunked salmon, mussels, and prawns in a light oil sauce spiked with enough garlic to keep your breath stinking all week.

However, despite our initial pleasure, we soon discovered that Chez Celeste falls short in the details. We ordered the Steak au Poivre medium-rare, and it came on a thick baguette, slathered generously in a tangy bleu cheese sauce, but it was cooked... horrors!! Well done?? A genuine disaster to any blood luster's dinner. The pre-entrèe Salade Maison was well dressed and greeny, but where were the pine nuts they promised? And to make matters worse, the Seafood Fet. lacked the stated sun-dried tomatoes. Most mistakes would be forgivable if they were isolated incidents (barring the catastrophic fuck up with the potentially superb steak dish) but all together they proved too giant an oversight to overlook.

Chez Celeste is in no way doomed to failure. Their food is unique and reasonably priced. The solution, of course, is blatantly obvious: Make what's on the menu, cook food how it's ordered, enjoy satisfied customers, make lots of money. Voila.